“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.
Here I caught Jean Doe (cousin of Jane Doe but misspelled… same letters…) with a game trail camera. Nice notched ear. You see, this was taken with a 360 degree camera that swivels internally toward movement. From detection to first click is about 2 seconds. Just enough time for a curious doe to look at the source of the whir with the corresponding click. The candid nature of the captures more than make up for the image issues from the Game Camera.
Now standard as a game trail camera capture, it’s an edgy image. . It’s a little overexposed in the sky, some movement blur on her face. None the less, I thought this was a REALLY good Game trail acquisition. Strictly an automatic camera capture too. It’s all about how you plant them and where.
It’s probably only going to be an 18 x 18 final though. Maybe smaller. But I’m loving the look of Jean’s innocent curiosity taking over. She is not perceiving a threat here. I just think she doesn’t understand how that “stump” (camo’d camera) moved and made a sound. Magic is high technology that is not understood. They get used to cars driving by but audible noise from a human contrivance is definitely interesting it seems. Her magic for the moment suffice to say. I constantly am amazed around here by unique scene appearing seeming at another’s will. Certainly I don’t do magic. I do sure as heck try to record it when it happens in front of my gear……
Boy the Land of the Rising Sun has nothing on this country. (Except Deep Sea Food lol) . Those swanky Japanese Maples are perhaps more photogenic than the backcountry Jack Pines seen here. But not much. Old growth and 60 feet tall survivors of the “big fire” back in the 1930’s. Here they bask in the colorcast smoke filtered light. The smoke from the fire all over the west. The sun size show the crushing of perspective by this long lens. Those trees are a mile distant.
These survivors dominate the ridge on the Wyoming / Montana border. This ground was more like the ridge behind them 100 years ago. No low branches is an adaptation to range fires. Those trees that loose their lower branches to heat from earlier fires do better the next time around. This growth habit is not reflected in the young progeny around the old still standing soldiers.
Living Hundreds of years on this ridge, the family here is tightly knit. I would imagine they are all related closely from a single pioneering ancestor. No doubt from way back in local early post glacial history. These pine trees of course release their seeds by way of cones falling scattered around their base. Those cones only open in response to a grass fire that is not too big, not too small. When the fire burns past, you get a generation of young pine trees that sprout up afterwards. Unless the fire is too hot. Fed by a century or more long build up of fuel in the grass. Old logs, branches and layers of pine cones.
Facts are that regular fires are GOOD for the ecosystem by regularly cleaning up the forest litter. Preventing HOT uncontrolled fires is a good idea across the board. Those fires burn the seeds they release and set the trunks of the old grown on fire destroying them in the process. Regular small fires help, large hot burns not so much. I’ve fought a few fires during my two decades on ranch. I don’t like fighting back in the woods too much. Not that I like fighting fires at all lol. Controlled burns are a GOOD thing. It spreads out the work over decades safely instead of all at once where you just loose things. This is not new knowledge. Common sense.
Random things happen all the time. Who would have thought I’d come upon two yearlings (1.5 year old buck anyway) playing hide and seek in the woods. They both carefully backed in behind the old pine to hide from me… Not seeing each other figured they were safe… What happened after this I leave to your imagination but I suspect someone or both got a startle when they bumped. I know but I’m not telling 🙂 I unfortunately did not get much more on camera as they weren’t cooperating with my mental wishes.
Back to my normal programming.
Well the twilight was spectacular anyway as par for the course of late. Magnificent skies are the rule rather than the exception when wispy clouds are overhead and there is a lot of smoke in the air. Long traveled sunshine colored the clouds with only the finest of displays that night.
Finding two deer on a ridge in front of the show was cool. Having them pose for me, priceless. The two caught in my cameras stare were frozen in time. Click. Who can argue with photographic evidence of hide and seek play lolol.
At first I had an imaginary shark hunting the water in the distant. The waves covering all but the dorsal fin. No wait… perhaps it’s a sail boat at a good breeze in high seas. The crest of the wave hiding the hull of the sailing ship. The illusion of waves swelling in the open ocean is unmistakable. I’m often taken by flights of fancy. The freedom to search for what could be is sometimes more compelling that for what is. On that segue…
I watched this moon descend into the cloud bank on the right 15 minutes earlier. Wrote it off for the session. I figured it would be obscured. From that point on, it was just until I looked back to the horizon. Looking the other way… Preoccupied I was working the sunrise on the dawn side of the sky. I was aware (back of my mind) when the moon was setting. Having done this a few times I finally did glance around at the other horizon JUST in case. I was surprised when I looked up to see this vision. The clouds had moved to the right leaving a window to the really low moon.
Now this was taken with a huge long lens. These totally screws with your perspective. Zooming up on the relatively small mountains, makes the moon looks big. That ridge is 40 miles distant. The place I set up for this backshow of the sunrise that morning was high enough to give me views both ways. Around 4000 feet which is high ridge country in this corner of Wyoming.
Here the BigHorn Mountains are surrounded by an odd color to cover a landscape. It was really that color lol. I saw this developing the other night. I’ve been on a mission to catch the orange light behind the BigHorn Mountains. I haven’t seen a weather window open to the BigHorns for over a month. Smoke, haze, soot and other forest fire products were blocking the view. The sun was hiding far to the right off frame. This was a night when the side shows were WAY more photogenic that the glare of the sun. The odd lighting resultant from the filtering of the light by the smoke.
The 130 miles distant 13,000 foot high mountain range was shrouded in this Orange (ish) colorcast. It was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape. As the sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds, the scene disappeared. Too dark to capture.
I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The distant range is always playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have very few Long Distance captures from this month on the ranch. Those few will slowly work their way into my work flow here. The black ridge at the in front of the BigHorns is 40 miles out from this high resolution camera.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.
The Forest Fires to our west (this publishes 10 days after I wrote it), contribute many things to our environment. The clearing of the overgrowth in healthy ecosystems is certainly positive. When the fires become an issue is when poor conservation (at best) combines with drought to set up a tinderbox. That becomes a negative. Then we build our houses in the trees. A failure to have a firebreak in your landscape is what burns structures. If you live in a fire area, you have to build for a fire area.
The dry year has this lake about as low as it gets. I have seen it about a foot lower but it’s artesian source replenishes it about as fast as evaporation. Normally it is topped off by a storm or two causing surface run off over a few thousand acres. It can get very full very fast. I have a post I placing a game camera a foot above the spill ways lips elevation. Those images will occur late next spring. I hope to have ducks next to the game trail cameras lol.
As a composition: I placed the sun behind the tree for two reasons. One the thing was still too bright to do this properly. It’s hard to get those details in the shadows with a super bright sun glaring at you. Two the water wouldn’t reflect the exposed sun…wrong angle lolol. Give it a few weeks and it will move far enough south (left frame) that it will reflect clear of the trees. Angles change over the year and to follow them is to give yourself possibilities with that photon capture box. Knowing when things align up lets you be there.
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…
If you stay under a large Mesocyclone long enough, your going to see some interesting things. This bolt was just ahead of a large rain shaft as the storm moved right to left. The dog leg in the precipitation shaft show a pretty huge change of direction. Winds can do very unusual things around these monster clouds. The light environment was basically pitch black post sunset but the flash bulb was adequate to the chore. I have to use a 25 second time exposure to do this kind of work. Wind is never an asset in that work. 🙂
The reason I like this is you can see the point of impact. It hit what I call “ridge 2” about 3 miles to my south of my position. I’m sure it hit a tree seeing the sparks. Fortunately it did rain which would put out any grass fires. I have seen trees burn for days internally after a strike. I have put out several of them. You could pour 1000 gallons of water on a burning tree and not put it out. It usually is nessary to tear it up to really put out an internally burning Pine tree. Most of the time the lighting runs down the outer bark blowing away chunks of the tree in the process. I see a LOT of lightning scars on the old growth timber along the ridge lines. Most trees survive the strikes. Some certainly don’t….
A second Landscape Perspective this morning. I figure I’m a landscape photographer, I better post a good landscape every now and then lol. This Close / Far capture of the old growth trees about a mile distant, the far ridge at 10 miles with the sun a mere 8 light minutes distant (93 Million Miles).
I LOVE salmon / peach colored skies. In this case it was the smoke between me and the orange source giving what would normally be orange a decidedly grey colorcast. The dirty smoke contrasting the layers of landscape in this multiple ridge environment. I’m standing on ridge one, the sun rises over ridge 5. That’s the first ridge to my east all the way to the last I can see. That last ridge is my effective horizon. I’m not aware of any place high enough for me to see over it short of climbing the big horns. It stands about 200 feet higher than the hill I am on. I have to climb over that ridge to see over it unfortunately. I don’t miss but about 2 minutes of initial sunrise from this position.
Remember when your teacher said you’d use geometry in your lives? I actually do to a degree (pun intended). I have to imagine how this stuff works before I can decide the concept is correct.
Good Morning… Taken from a high point overlooking the Montana/Wyoming border into the furthest north drainage in Wyoming. The telephoto camera sees a ridge 60 miles to the south. At the left end of that ridge stands a hidden in the mist Gillette Wyoming. Around 20+ thousand people live there. The actual population depends on the time of year certainly. The boom or bust of the local economy there depends on oil, gas and coal. The blue collar guys working the hydrocarbons and the white collars that manage it all live here. Lots of people drive through there on the way to Yellowstone every year. It is the first bigger town in Wyoming on the east side.
At night I can see any clouds over them from all the sodium lights. With time it golden light pollution will turn blue as the switch to LED is underway. That is a lot of ground in between. The road distance is 70 miles but it’s 60 as the crow flies. I’ve taken photos of fireworks from up at this location during a Gillette Wyoming sky show. They would look like a dim dot on this scale of magnification. I can zoom up to show clusters of shells going off but not much detail. It’s a long way to Gillette. Took a two day trip with a buck wagon with a team. I’m sure the local pioneers enjoyed the overnight between here and there. They were tougher back then.
Whats the difference between deer nuts and beer nuts
Beer nuts are $1.50 a lb. And deer nuts are under a buck. (Top Hat crash Thump Thump…)
Sorry about that. I was so sure this post would be the butt of many jokes, I figured I’d pre-empt you lol. I’ve seen a lot of good photos of buck faces, I haven’t seen too many good images of Buck Butts. This game Trail Camera caught this young buck with velvet on it’s growing antlers. He was on his way to meet that gal sunbathing in the grass down range.
This image was late spring. My delay on Game Trail Camera captures can be considerable. Might be 6 months at times over the winter. First of all it’s been months since I’ve serviced this particular automatic camera. It sits down in the wonderful grassy wash deeply hidden from the outside world. This drainage is a world unto itself of old cottonwoods and cedars. Grasses up to your waist with a notable lack of noxious weeds. Something that contaminates from the outside those weeds like Canadian Thistle whose seeds blow in with the wind.
The soil/ground here is undisturbed by human machinations. Maybe a fence post hole or two along it’s course. Unchanged by European Man is this ground. As a pre-historic note… I point out that there is a documented “Clovis Man” 10,000 year old archeological site 10 miles from this spot. I’m thinking those same paleo-lithic types walked this valley. Just a tad bit before I did.
The Mule Deer as a species survived the extinction of the Megafauna. The Clovis Man culture disappeared into the mists of North America as the Glaciers Melted / Ablated away. The deer aren’t telling the story. They sure seem to have a genetic memory. That to be fearful of two legged creatures…. humm.
So I’m collecting game trail camera chips, replacing batteries on 29 planted cameras out on the ranchlands. I have a habit of placing a good camera on fence braces which stick up above the wire being the highest things around. Then I take into account the amount of bird poop on the post. I have my own scale for such things as I have many more fence braces than cameras lol. Most big birds flare out to burn off speed just before they land so aim lower than the top of the post. I split the difference and give myself a “halfie where the image is 1/2 horizon, 1/2 grass. (shaking head side to side).
This has to be the single best game trail camera photo I’ve collected in years of images from my network. The Prairie Falcon volunteered for this one. An event like this is strictly random on the birds part. Setting the camera up just right is about the only control I have over the daytime operation of these things. I had 780 images on this particular chip. I pulled a few Pronghorn images, I was just about done with the batch, this popped up. My eye’s popped out and I started laughing. In the scheme of things, I will be hard pressed to get luckier than this. The Raptor was captured landing August 28th at 4 pm by the automatic Game Trail Camera.
Now if you say this looks pretty good for a game trail camera. It took me an hour in the digital dark room to clean up most of the problems affiliated with such cameras. They make a very messy, noisy, artifact covered image to my standards. Now this is an 18×18 inch file after I finished with it. :).
Everyone needs some purple in their life at least once a week. Here’s my contribution to that fix…..
This summer, the flowers about had a rough time here at the homestead. Normally I have thousands to choose from. The hot dry weather is not a favorite of anything trying to grow. We do water flowering plants around the place fortunately. Unfortunately the early July hail storm mostly broke plants. Even big planted pots were beat to chunks of plastic leaving a mound of dirt with stripped stalks on them. All but a few of hard fought for flower pots were generally destroyed in the swath of that storm.
Add to that fun, the grasshoppers this year have been horrible. Worse, I recently photographed a Mormon Cricket (theirrrrr back!) A few of our planting have survived the summer to fight another day. This is a shot of a recovered survivor of the night after the hail storm. This flower was just about the “last man standing” here on the ranch. After 1/2 an hour of hail, most plants were shreds of leaves in a pile of ice laying on the ground. This one was in the shade of a tree trunk at it’s base.
Taken at night in very dark conditions with an LED ring around the lens. 100 mm macro.
I see the light. Light has a tendency to travel in a straight line unless acted upon. Usually this is by passing through a change in media such as air to water. This refracts the light. As I was carefully wandering in the twilight dusk along a high ridge. I was scanning for imaginary faces in the silhouette. (This image having many for you Pareidoliacs out there).
Having huge deep boulders on the skyline usually makes anthropomorphic imaginings easy. This scene froze me in my tracks. The spot of orange light in the black on the low right is actually showing THROUGH the boulder field. Talk about a gauntlet/light filter lol. I’m not used to seeing straight lines through rocks. My geologic background caused OCD kicks in lolol.
I was walking around with the wrong camera upon first happenstance to see this. “Clever Girl” was up the hill about 4 stories. Climbed up and traded cameras, climbed back down. (Got to stay in shape to do this stuff). I figured I was never going to find the exact same place in 3-D space again. I went back to roughly the same spot with this lens, found the “zone” and clicked. It was visible in a little window about 2 feet by 2 feet. Move outside that box and I couldn’t see it.
It’s an obvious metaphor. Simply put: “Seeing the light is looking at JUST the right angle at the right time. “
It was pitch black out around 11PM this stormy night of worrying about range fires. I usually end up going “up the hill” after lightning storms with a quality “FLIR” (look it up if you don’t know) to look around for heat signatures in the distance. I find stomping a fire out when it’s 10 feet across is much easier than 3500 acres. Loosing a little sleep and running around the ranch at night is a small price to pay. If I hear thunder, I am up before it fades from the distance.
So I tend to stick around watching such events, nothing better to do…. Might as well set a quality camera on a tripod. Placed under my front porch roof where I can go inside and be close by. I have a tendency to try not to let quality gear get wet. Conditions have been known to change rapidly during these weather events.
The leaves are blurred on the close tree left frame. They were rustling in the breeze which in time lapse photography means blur. The 25 second time exposure is pointed down my driveway to the main gate entrance. That log gate is a 120 yards from the camera. The ridge right in front of the bolt is 550 yards out. The bolt certainly hit the next ridge over which is right at 1000 yards or 3/4 of a mile. I was running the camera at this point. FLASH….. 1, 2, 3, 4 ….. Booom… After regaining my eyesight, thought it might be a good idea for me to go inside and let a lightning trigger run the camera on automatic lolol.
The big white diamond on the lower left is a reflection off of 8 solar panels on a solar tracker. There are more panels you just can see the corner of in yellow sodium light next to it ground mounted. I’m thinking I got a little battery power from this lightning bolt
Location: The Homestead at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
The First Quarter Moon has risen 1/2 an hour too early to be in the optimal position for me here. It’s still mostly a rule of thirds composition lol. This was taken in mid Civil Twilight. Roughly 15 minutes after scheduled sunset. There were additionally a host of storms behind me to my west. I was in a dark environment looking at a 30K foot high+ projector screen. That reflecting the “Belt of Venus” color gradient back to my photon capture boxes.
The Mammatus usually means a collapsing storm but they can be affiliated with serious weather. Being under this monster would have been less than desirable unless you get lucky to get just rain. It does happen. I might be hyper-sensitive to hail after watching chickens egg sized hard ice fall with all other sizes below for 1/2 an hour this July. These guys ruin insurance agents profit/loss ratios in the summer. They can certainly cause massive damage in their wake. That storm has as much energy as a small atomic weapon wound up in it’s rotation. There is a LOT of mass there too remember. I wonder how many gallons of water is suspended up there … humm.
A generic thunderstorm cloud contains enough water drops to fill up a 275 million gallon container. That’s around 2.3 billion pounds of water. Alternately = 1.1 million tons of water. Assuming a thunderstorm produced one inch of rain over one square mile. This would be 17.4 million gallons of water . Weighing 143 million pounds. Amounting to around 72,000 tons). Heavier than air all of it. Lots of energy to keep it all suspended up there eh?
Those with Pareidolia (seeing faces in random scenes / patterns ish), will have a big smile from this one. I saw this cloud band and moved a mile to line this up just with this saddle lol. The outcome was as expected. The big smile above has a guys face on the right side too. It reminds me of the T-shirt “Forrest Gump” gave to the guy while running. He got splattered with Shi* running and wiped off with a t-shirt handing it to the soon to be seller of the “Shi* Happens” emoticon eventually lol. Epic movie…
The weather system that donated this to me was quite a doozy. This was early in that timeline and we were this dark around 6pm. Well before sunset. Having said that it was dark as heck where I was. A big down draft and associated hail shaft was incoming. I was trying to get out of the way. Pausing a few seconds to line this up and take the image, I moved out. “Clever Girl” purrs when the turbo’s kick in. 45 mph speed limit on the backcountry gravel. You definitely take your life in your hands exceeding the speed limit much up here. I’ve seen Deer and Pronghorn appear out of nowhere right in front of your rig. Never had a speeding ticket or a moving violation in my life. But I’ve smacked into few animals against my will.
So the storm chased me for a change and eventually caught me on the edge of the hail shaft. I was definitely dumped on by marble sized hail shortly after this capture. Probably 2 inches of rain resulting in all the drainages to earn their ephemeral ranking.
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.
The Amount of Smoke in the air should not be underestimated here. When I get stepped gradients around the sun, there is literally a visual tunnel / window your looking at suspended in the sky. LOTS of Smoke… This is the scene exactly as I saw it. The colors are spot on. It shows the prodigious accumulated plume from of hundreds of forest fires to our west all the way to the Pacific Coast. The southwest/west is in a Mega-drought of sorts and has been for two decades. Megadroughts happen, and have happened several times in the past. This all before man became responsible for climate.
Researchers in the “southwest” compared soil moisture records from 2000-2019 to other historic drought events from the past 1,200 years. They found that the current period is worse than all but one of five megadroughts identified in the record. I haven’t read this study personally but this is from the abstract.
The paper, presented in the journal “Science” reveals the south-western US has been suffering from a 20-year “megadrought” – a period of very severe aridity that is starving rivers, stoking fires, emptying reservoirs and constraining water supplies to the municipalities of the region. Explosive Population growth and river diversion for agriculture as well as human use certainly looks to be a future problem. Millions depend on rainfall in the South Western United States.
Way up in northeastern Wyoming, our ranch is mid-continent 100 miles from the geographic center of North America. None the less the Drought monitor map has tongues reaching right up from the Southwest to this corner of Wyoming. We are definitely “enjoying” a serious lack of precipitation. Unless a Mesocyclone or two happened to run directly over you this summer. You’ve had a rough year growing grass. (our main crop).
This is the third image in this Huge Storms Time line that I’ve published. Several double bolt shots were taken of this storm. What really stands out on my 27 inch computer screen….. That loop of clouds on the far left side of the frame stands out big time to me. It is a perfect chain hook for this storm. I’d say the bottom of this huge slowly spinning stop is 15 miles across and the top was 40 or 50 miles across. Still small at this capture, 2 hours later it ran over the Devil’s Tower area. I have images of Hail Slathering the Tower from the hail coming off the back of this storm. The separate shafts off the right side of the storm consists of mostly hail surrounded by rain.
You want to avoid the back of these storms as getting under one will get you slathered in hail. Hail can be 5 inches or so. That would be a bad thing. In 2008 we had some soft ball hail cause 150 grand of damage on our place. This year 1/2 hour of chickens egg sized ice with a few bigger did over 1/4 million in damage. Next year we will be replacing 47000 thousand square feet of roofing. That is our ranch headquarters just this side of the north part of the storm by about 15 miles. It went past us and left us untouched but we got little rain. We need the rain but not the hail. Picky, picky, picky…..
The Smoke images keep coming up to bat. I get up hours before sunrise as I don’t need a lot of sleep. I typically nap most days to catch up. It’s what you have to do photographically working both sunrise and sunset in the summer. So with all the smoke from western forest fires I was assured colorful horizon crossings. I still walk out a few times before I head out to check the sunrise lighting. The hail storm in July KILLED my sunrise camera which see’s the eastern horizon. I can’t see the horizon from my homestead. So it’s a lot of instinct on whether to go out for several hours or not. If I go out in the morning, I’m making use of what light is worthy of your time and mine.
So the smoke is a very effective light filter here letting in this peach flavored light during a cloud banded sunrise. I pay very close attention to the scene as I take it to reproduce it effectively. The landscape detail was recovered in the digital darkroom as as a matter or course, I expose only the highlights correctly. Usually that leaves a very dark or silhouette landscape. This halfie (rare for me) was such a good landscape ladder that I thought it warranted a little extra room. Thusly framed the composition accordingly. Most of my compositions are in the camera. Rarely do I crop to any significant degree in the digital darkroom.
There are more smokey sunrise images in my “to finish folder”. Perhaps a dozen I really like. The will slowly mingle into my workflow as I get to them.
I was tickled when I got this. I’ve been planting Game Trail Cameras on certain Posts up high topographically. I figured that sooner or later I’d get a raptor of somekind dropping by for a visit. Bingo lolol.
This Prairie Falcon is about crow sized. That constitutes a largish bird for the Falcons. They do have about a 3 foot wing span if that gives you any indication of their power. Falco mexicanus is it’s scientific name and weighs not quite 2 pound. That’s a pile of guided missile with beaks and claws. Love the cheek patches. I’m not sure what he was dancing to but I’ve heard the fence wire make music before.
The trick here is to place the camera to catch the bird in focus. The lighting and his timing were totally random of course. Once I place a camera, it is autonomous in it’s actions for the next 1/2 year or so. Most game cameras don’t focus well up close and personal. Nor am I typically forunately enough to capture the bird totally in frame AND in focus. There was only one frame of this animal.
ALL of the game trail camera image I’ve dealt with have major problems for me to deal with. Most issue are related to the way they process files and the fact that they are less than a 200 dollar automatic camera. For some reason they don’t produce the image quality of a five thousand dollar camera rig. This one came out amazing to me. Got REALLY lucky with the lighting.
It had just hailed about an inch of marble sized ice stones from the sky. Heavy rain accompanied the hail shafts. This is a remote meadow near the Montana / Wyoming border. A series of large storms moved through the area. It’s the heaviest rain I’ve personally been in all year. I’m sure it dumped 2 inches of water plus the hail. ALL the local stream were running which is a rare event. I don’t think this particular drenching under this Mesocyclone was particularly unusual but for the drenching. I’ve seen 4 inches and hour before and this one only gave us a couple of inches in the 1/2 hour it lasted.
So all this hail ice is laying covering the surface of the ground up the hill. The sun hits it, evaporation and sublimation (google the latter) occurs and a cloud of cold saturated air off the ice flows down hill like so much water. It ran in rivers from every hill to every adjacent low area in this valley. This is the fog lake resultant in a wide low pasture being fed by dozens of smaller fog rivulets. The low angle lighting adding to the frames unusual nature. Oh yeah, there’s a rainbow up there too lol.
Boy I was traveling and I sure didn’t want to get under that. It’s hard to predict the motion of something like this and drive at the same time. You have to stop. Which is where it overtook me. It’s about 7 miles away from me at this point and heading right my way. I weathered the storm behind a stand of large well needled pine trees. Trees are of course a dangerous place to be during lightning but this really wasn’t an electrical storm. I was on rubber tires so I wasn’t too worried about ground currents in the truck. It was definitely a hail storm and that was a VERY heavy shaft of rain/hail. I call that a “Water DUMP” .
When streams run up here high on the ridges, there is going to be high water down drainage for sure. All this surface area really adds to the number of gallons concentrated in the valleys. Some canyons off this ridge are a hundred feet deep cut into the Cretaceous Sandstones underlaying my parking place. I saw more running water after this passed than I’ve seen in years. The hail was small marble sized fortunately but we got a bit of it. There are many more (many) more photos from this weather event’s timeline.
The events in the aftermath of this were VERY interesting to me. I saw some phenomena I haven’t seen in decades. Click, Click, Click, Click …. So many choices, so little time ….
Milling about, generally moving a bit to the north, the group was grazing a little. generally they were uneasy but I don’t think it was me they were upset about. I find that groups of these guys are the definition of jumpy lol. This perspective is through a long lens camera sideways. I’m well outside their “line in the sand” that get’s them nervous. I was stopped, engine off. Watching them for about 5 minutes at this point. It was more like they were waiting for something to happen. Maybe me moving on… hard to know.
That last ridge is known as “The Red Hills”. This was taken a few weeks ago as this posts. Still at the very beginning of some lighter smokey days. It got WAY worse later the next day. The normally crystal clear view to the “Red Hill’ turned to haze by the massive fires out west.
Visibility was 10 miles tonight as I worked the smokey sunset again driving ridges in the backcountry. It’s getting close to dense fog kind of visual occlusion as I type this. The air is just plain unhealthy. I’m not sure if “Clever Girl” even likes it. Might have to change the air filter sooner driving around in this forest fire soup. The sun disappeared tonight long before it hit the horizon. The surface smoke totally obscuring the solar disk. It was last seen around “Sneaky Pete” tonight.
Another name is “Crown” Sky. This is the second image I’ve posted from this timeline. This is the widest lens I have. The top of the frame is past straight up (over 90 degrees tall). These “Crepuscular Rays are actually over my head from the horizon. This is a first for me. I’ve never seen one this big before. It literally covered 1/2 of the sky. I figure this is about 1/4th of the sky as it continued over head quite a way.
Unfortunately there were no “Anticrepuscular” rays on the other side of the sky associated with this or I would have done the whole sky as a mosaic dome with 5 or 6 images from this lens. Still this was an awe inspiring display to witness. It lasted a good 1/2 hour too so it’s not like I don’t have options regarding image choices lol. Several hundred clicks were heard in proximity to this event from my place.
The different images each reflect the constantly changing dance of clouds blocking the rays. It’s not rays lighting up the sky, it’s shadows not lighting up part of the sky you note as distinctive. Without the shadow of the cloud tops, you would be looking at a uniformly illuminated smoke screen. That acting like a projector screen from that bright bulb. Otherwise, everything would be lit up . This is all about shadows of that big cloud above the sun.
Old “Sneaky Pete” here has met his match. The environment is even kicking his butt. The air is thicker up here, it’s hard to breath, the sky is under a perma-eclipse. Asthmatics need not apply for a ranching job surrounded by a sea of grass/sage with smoke filling the air. Not an eclipse of the sun by the moon but by Forest Fires. If you’ve missed this enjoyment consider yourself healthier. Visibility was about 8 miles this morning at times. It comes and goes.
I don’t even remember a stretch this long (2 weeks) when I had a “normal” sunset to watch. These images will stretch out over the fall as I have dozens to finish from the startling skies. The very unexpected physics is welcome from a photographic standpoint. I have to clean my lenses more often that is for sure. I find my eye’s are more sensitive than my nose or lungs. It’s hard to take photos of what you can’t see. I found that out taking photos of Comet Neowise. Photography by instinct.
This was actually QUITE a dark Scene. Everything was indeed brown or a shade of red. I’ve seen VERY interesting shadow effects from this that I will work into my publishing schedule. There is SO much red light proportionally that it is actually hard to take a “normal” photo until about mid day. More than a few miles of atmosphere will completely block out the sun. I’ve seen it set into the smoke not the horizon 1/2 a dozen times already.
This is the pullback and image number 2 from this timeline. That is the original and official “pin hole camera”. We have a silhouette here of a local mountain top from another nearby peak. I was walking along the ridge to take maximum advantage of the Pareidolia I suffer from. There are at least two “easter island” faces in the silhouette. Suddenly as I’m walking along…..
I freeze. I really didn’t have the right camera with me, so after a trip to my truck. Consisting a few hundred feet of climbing, I figured I’d never find the window again. I couldn’t see it projecting a dot in the shadow on the landscape. The sky was too “lit up” throwing very bright diffuse light making that impossible. (What a sky).
It turns out that the “window” to this pinhole was about 2 feet by 2 feet at this distance (about 300 yards). I just by happenstance walked with my head at the right level. I’m amused by simple things these days.
I find looking at the world with the amazement of a child has done well for me over the decades. I attempt to view perspectives like a mouse and lighting as a youngin’. Try to moderate those with a dose of awareness though lol. Even though I’ve photographed thousands of sunsets/sunrises, each one is a new experience. Each different than any before. The spiffs of being a landscape photographer. 😎
Abundant Pronghorn live on the western plains. One of their major wildlife refuges is the Thunderbasin National Grasslands. Made up of several blocks of land just to our south, the Grasslands are huge. All these animals migrated from the federal land refuge in the spring to pasture on the surrounding privately owned ranchlands. Summer pastures versus winter pastures. These animals have been doing this for the last 10,000 years at least.
This late in the summer, they are starting to group / bunch up. Earlier in the year the does break off to give birth. The males get in small groups. The males will slowly get control over the loose females in their area. Then the serious stuff begins. I count 3 bucks in this group.
The rut is coming very soon and may be happening to one degree or another at the moment. I’m not sure what the rough environment this year had on their activities but I usually get close to rutting activity. Trail Cameras do work for me 24/7 and I get a lot of opportunity to see Pronghorn in and around the ranch. I see some groups two times a day. Depending on how they are feeling, occasionally I get lucky and can move in close. When the groups are this big though, they get collectively and synergistically jumpy. Life in an ocean of grass.