“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.
The Smoke Pall has shown a short fall of solar renewables to keep up with demand under the significantly lower light levels. ALL the ranchers under this smoke that rely on solar wells to water stock are scrambling if they use solar… (When you have to chain a 12 foot long 6 inch diameter pipe tied to a well casing down to keep it from moving in the wind). There might be some wind loading on this infrastructure lol…
Many ranchers have to put generators on their wells now to pump enough water to keep all the cattle well watered. The average cow drinks 30 gallons a day on a nice day. Hot days…. 50 or more :)… That adds up in a herd with say 400 head drinking 30 gallons each. That’s 12000 gallons they need on an easy day ….. A garden hose at 5 gallons a minute, 300 gallons an hour is only 7200 gallons a day with 24 hour sun………. Hard for any ranches solar well working a it’s highest efficiency to do that much…. This one does 5 gallons a minute in full sun. Maybe 10 hours a day in the summer……
Ranchers aren’t the only one to notice this shortfall I assure you. ANY solar array installed on homes, businesses, and utility based are having performance issues lately due to the western forest fires. This is perhaps biggest problem with solar is that the sun doesn’t always shine and it’s really expensive to store the power (plus inefficient).
Apparently Tesla has recently sold some BIG batteries to England that some hoopla was made that power can be stored then used in peak demand times. I don’t know the specifics but that had to be expensive and will need to be replaced in 10 – 20 years. I read where some body in Tennessee has figured out how to crack ethanol from water using an exotic copper catalyst plus CO2 driven by electricity If that comes to fruition, electrolysis using spare electricity from renewables will change the game. Just burn the generated ethanol to run a generator then…. In the mean time, any scheme to substitute renewables will run into this problem with regional brown outs or rolling blackouts.
Having some background in this…. I have run 18- 200 watt solar panels net metered to the utility since 2005 . Individual solar set ups since 1995. ). I did all the engineering /wiring / installation of the systems. We even had 5 electrical engineers from the power company there for the initial connect. All watching the meter run backwards going ooo and ahhh. We were first to hook up feeding back to the utility in this region according to them in 2005. They were excited.
I was even a member of the Wyoming Wind Power working group upon it’s inception for about a year of monthly meetings in Casper. All of us were “pioneers” doing this. That group was more interested in the big projects unfortunately so I left. I was more interested in what ranchers could do…. Wind, just another renewable that doesn’t work all the time. Interesting hobby if you have the spare money to put into a project that will never pay for itself. The solar well now…. that’s another story since running electricity to this particular spot would be several hundred thousands of dollars. It has paid for itself many times. Solar running a house…. not so much.
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.
There are some technical hurdles necessary to capture something like this lol. First, you have to wait for the sun, done with it’s day, to start rolling down the hill to catch it “thunking” over the boulders for those last few “steps”. The Smoke has to be thick in the air filtering out all but the yellow through red wavelengths. The Black is for free.
You see, this is what actually happens over the horizon. I bet you thought the sun falls below the horizon to fly clear around the earth for it’s morning appointment with dawn. In reality as I show here, the sun disappears only to take the steps instead of slowly floating around the globe. Remember it has to be all the way on the other side of the planet in the morning and the stairs through the center must be the fastest way. Don’t go around, go through must be the plan…
IT takes a LONG lens to reach “over the horizon”…… (snickering). (drats…. my emoticons aren’t working at the moment on this program).
SO at any rate, no is the time to return to my normal programming lolol.
As I type this a 45 mph wind from the Northwest is bringing DENSE smoke down from a fire up in Montana 80 miles away. The air quality went from good to terrible in 30 minutes. It has stayed poor or worse since the start. We are under a Red Flag warning. No sparks needless to say. Humidity out currently say 18 percent….. Wow. (Note: this was written a week before it publishes).
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.
The horizon is a ridge 40 miles out. Those bumps are full grown pine trees making the saw teeth on the horizon. The perspective is deceiving. The area of the sky covered in this image is about the size of a postage stamp at arms length. Telescopic lenses literally give you a front row seat by crushing distance and thusly perspective you perceive. Such large celestial objects are possible. The relative apparent sizes mess with you… This actually makes the trees look HUGE relative as the sun. 863,000 miles across for that sphere, 50 feet for the tree. Based on that comparison, the sun must only be a few thousand feet tall. (shaking head side to side)…. Early Scientists/observers had it rough. They came up with the “Flat Earth” theories….
All the smoke in the atmosphere these days is good only for photography. Giving me crimson, yellow and black as my entire color pallet to capture. Three color, color schemes are fairly hard to find in nature typically. You have to narrow your search with the telephoto. There was a MUCH bigger sunset on going all around this close up. Many more colors started to appear. But when looking directly into the furnace, you only capture what light makes it to the camera. The smoke stopping ALL colors but Red/Yellow =Orange from making it to my photon traps. I can only record what is sent my way after all . I’m pretty sure that the time spent watching backcountry sunsets is not taken off your life’s timeline by the powers that be. It’s all free time….
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).
I have accumulated a series of right turn signs photobombing objects near, far behind or on them I’m trying to take a photo of. The series name came from the Orangutan star in the early 1980’s Clint Eastwood Movie “Any Which Way You Can”. Having lived in Jackson Hole for the Decade of the 90’s, it was a classic to watch locally and see the familiar sites. The Great ape when told to “Right Turn Clyde”, would throw his hand out to the right, usually into somebodies jaw. That person typically needed a good punch in the story.
The lighting was silly hard to do this with. It took a tripod to get enough depth of focus to capture this. Telephoto of course from some distance back. It’s the only way to do this. The settings are highly variable depending on how much light you have. The more the better. There wasn’t much here to collect in my photon capture boxes.
As a photorealist, I reproduce images dark if it was dark out. That sun was as dim as a candle in the window across the street. IT was in the process of being snuffed out like that candle by the cloud bank behind the Pall of Smoke. Neutral grey light background and just a bit of light from my truck on the sign. Those surfaces are holographic at times. Messes with your camera big time lol.
This is the Sun…not the Moon. During the forest fire smoke Month of August 2020, I had “SOME” opportunity to play with the subdued / occluded sun under otherwise clear skies. Of course the smoke moderated the intensity of the light. That REALLY helped with the technical issues of taking a blurred windmill against a still very bright object. It’s easier to do with lens filters on the camera (Neutral Density) but I don’t use anything in front of my lenses 99.9 percent of the time. This is raw in the camera stuff.
There is a lens artifact in the sail of the windmill pointing from the sun to towards the center of the spinning dish. I left it in the image as I liked it lol. Lens artifacts are a result of light bouncing around inside the lens. Usually a lot of light. I’ve fought them before being too intense glaring out the whole image. The subdued sun makes all this possible.
The lighting through this smoke pall reminds me seriously of the total eclipse a few years back. I watched that total eclipse in Douglas Wyoming. There was an odd shading at first followed by a progressive “dusky” feeling. Life under this pall beside the breathing issues, is very similar to that odd eclipselighting both in illumination value and overall feeling.
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.
My sense of Proportion mixing with the admiration of the cowboys that built all of the 30 miles of fence on and surrounding our ranch. Pastures being shaped by topography as often as by choice. I wonder how many fence builders / fixers that have passed this way before. Dozens of good (and bad) hands over the years I suspect. I’m just the latest to stretch, patch and otherwise tend to the pasture borders.
Rotating pastures is good husbandry of the land. One big pasture is inefficient as cattle center around the water. Ranchers have found over the years that open range just doesn’t work. Rotating keeps any particular area from being overgrazed (assuming you have any grass at all un-like this year). Fences make ranches work. They also make work for ranchers lol.
The smoke Pall covering the valley distant spans the 40 mile distance to the “Red Hills”. The last ghostly ridge is what you can see of that range.
The one good thing about a Smokey Atmosphere is the effect it has on the incoming light. Mostly it just absorbs all the shorter wavelengths such as Indigo, Blue and Green. That makes orange and red disproportionately abundant (otherwise known as “ColorCast”). When you have a LOT of Red, Orange and Yellow light, everything takes on a strange “Golden Color” thus the “Golden Hour”.
The air was quite unhealthy. Similar to smoking outside except one can’t get fresh air between puffs. There are a variety of health effects with a new study indicating even “Gut” health is related to air quality of all things. The SUN (not the moon) was setting into the Pall… Close/Far Perspective with Smoke Filter… Not a condensation cloud in the sky, this is ALL ground level smoke.
There are hundreds of fires burning in the west. Many in California but every western state has something burning. Most are lightning related other might be a bit more suspicious. None the less the smoke has spread far and wide to the point where my copy of “Weatherwall™” shows me where it is the thickest. Some of the applications out there now will actually have a choice to select where the fires are. The map is covered…😔
I have only had to fight one fire this year so far fortunately. I understand the forecast is for cold weather. This is a good thing lowering the fire danger considerably. Last night was a .2 rain here with a hard rain surrounding us. There isn’t much grass to burn in this area due to drought and grasshoppers eating what’s left. Basically it doesn’t pay to run the tractor and other equipment to harvest hay. It’s very desert like this year. We normally get 14 inches a year mostly in the spring. This year the spring did not deliver AND the last two months have been VERY HOT and DRY as this narrative is written.
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. 😎
Of course this is very dark. It looked like a refrigerator bulb across the yard. ONLY the red through yellow wavelengths were making it. Not many of those either. This reminded me of the Eclipse we witnessed down at Douglas Wyoming a few years back. The way the subdued lighting had everything awake but on hold. Almost like a pause before the curtain opens for the screen play to follow.
We’ve had smoke for two weeks now and I’ve worked every terminator crossing (look that up if you don’t know it) during that interval. Except this AM as I type this. A small cloud system came in and blocked my eastern view with nothing but a gray slate screen. Sort of like the internet was down in the denial. I was so used to getting up and about, shock to my system…. The nights are very short in the summer. It’s a good thing I don’t need much more than 4 hours of sleep. (as long as I get a nap during the day lol).
I’ve spent a good deal of time doing photography these days. This intense a smoke pall for so long is fortunately a rare event this severe. This plume(s) is equal or in excess of any I’ve experienced in my 20 years living in Wyotana. It’s been an interesting “disaster” year all around now with twin hurricanes landfalling on the Gulf Coast. I did some post-graduate marine biology teaching down at the Gulf Coast Marine Lab in Ocean Springs Mississippi. Those guy are getting clobbered as I type this. (Shaking head side to side).
First of all, this is the SUN, not the MOON. (Weird eh? ) Zooming in on Terrestrial objects in front of Celestial objects is often wrought with technical issues. Damn the torpedos, it’s the composition I was after of course. Dark Scene…..
The sun always moves to the right the same time it’s being covered by the horizon. That shift right has not much to do with the suns motion. After all the sun doesn’t actually set. The earth spins so the horizon is actually rising to cover out window to the furnace. The movement precludes LONG time exposures to get the landscape.
This is an odd perspective produced from me as the tree was really too close, the ridge still too close. Fortunately the sun is mid-field that is perfectly in focus. It is after all the point (huge) of interest here lol. The rest of the image is just a place holder for the odd scene’s relative position. It gives the viewer a frame of reference.
Sure is a deep brown sky though. It is essentially acting as a N50 neutral density filter lol. This was actually VERY LOW light as in camera shake and the leaves rustling in the breeze were a thing. When the sun is a little more bright than a candle at 100 yards, it’s like taking a photo of the moon literally. In fact the sun here was darker by a significant factor than the setting moon.
I get a few “Cathedral” Skies every year. This happened a week before this is published. Assuming you haven’t just returned from two weeks of Spelunking deep under a rock somewhere, we are living under a Pall of Smoke from western fires. Most of the west is enjoying unhealthy air qualities, and high temperatures. Low humidities, dry lightning strikes and a drought year long term continue to press the US.
This was not a short sky show either. 1/2 an hour… forever for me. I went into a how often do I see such a thing and started really accumulating clicks at a serious pace. The image changed by the minute with the rays changing / morphing as the clouds moved. The “Crepuscular” rays slicing through the heavy smoke above highlighting it with white unfiltered light above. Red Light traveling through miles of atmosphere making a shaft spreading below the sun.
Taken with one of my widest lenses. A 12 mm full frame Sony G series. The resultant image is well over 90 degrees wide and very tall. This is a major contender for the Largest Crepuscular display I’ve personally ever seen in my travels. It was a very unusual meteorlogic situation. Certainly an irreproducible set of circumstances. I’ll never get another chance like this in my lifetime I suspect. I took several hundred images on several cameras. There are many variations on this theme. Some are amazing like this one.
This is the way my camera recorded this trip up to ridge one this AM. I was interrupted at the first ridge by a herd of Pronghorn feeding there. That took a few minutes but they were patient with me and no matter how strange the lighting, I’ll photograph Pronghorn up close. No indication they were here in this capture. Up the hill I headed.
This was my establishment shot for just starting to take images that morning. I was late getting up the hill this morning so the sun had some time to rise above the ridge top. I have been working both sunrise and sunset photographically for the last week (14 in a row). It’s starting to wear and tear but one has to work when there is light. Well I would indicate that this is a very one subject but very interesting light environment. As long as the smoke pall is over us, I will be working these sunrises and sunsets.
This is what I saw through the camera lens. I can adjust the exposure but this is no “filter” photography as it were. I couldn’t actually look at this so who is to say it’s not what was actually there. The human eye wouldn’t like looking at even that heavily smoke filtered sun for long. It’s not good for you.
I’m looking at the cloud cover this evening on “Weather Wall”™. It shows the smoke pall very well. Might be clearing for this sunset. Planing where to go is a good thing.
I see this Antique Deering Seeder almost every day as it is located on a ridge with a view. Better I have all weather access to this spot. The Sunset that night was accented by the continuing fires west of us. We’ve only had one fire on ranch this year so far. That’s pretty good (knock on wood and where is that salt). This is the beginning of many smokey sunsets (since that is what is currently the rage around here). The air quality is considered “unhealthy” to endure by the powers that be. I am fortunately in an air conditioned truck except when I drive around with cameras sticking out my window. That might be hazardous duty of some sort. ☹️
The seeder has has this amazing view point for decades. Perhaps dating back to very early in the 20’s or so. I suspect it’s horse drawn nature was necessary early on. Gasoline would have been difficult and expensive to obtain. Horses thrive on the available fuel. There is a significant suspicion that much of the grass in our larger fields are resultant from the activities of this fellow. Clearing the sage brush must have been exciting lolol. Fires I’m sure played a significant role there along with a plow later. Then enters the realm of this Cadillac of Grass Planters of it’s day. Changing our environment for the “better”. Boy are there lots of varieties of grass up here now. 😜
Having unhealthy levels of forest fire smoke in the air isn’t a good thing generally. EXCEPT for the effect it has on light. I have been working every sunset and sunrise with a “box-o-cameras” since the smoke pall started a week ago. Taken 6 days ago.. (my current click to publish interval) This is one of the first of the SMOKEY timeline to make it’s way to your computer via a whole host of intermediate steps lol. I’d take a photo of a non-smokey sky but I’ve seen things this week that are new to me. That’s saying something as I do this a bit lolol. This is very hard core pollution by mother nature.
The stand of old growth trees remembers the smell in the air from fires to the west. During the 1930’s, this stand survived the “Fire that burned till the snows fell” up in this country. All around this area lie old snags that have not decayed in the intervening 90 years. The area between there and where I stand used to all be heavy pine forested before that fire. Remnants of trunks are everywhere. One has to be careful driving off trail here (private land all). Your likely to take out suspension driving in high grass. A low stump can make you walk miles back to the house lolol. (well there is the radio)…
The old growth trees all have lost their bottom branches. It’s hard to burn those upper branches with such a long trunk above the grass fires.
I really didn’t like going out into this. It’s nothing I haven’t been exposed to much worse fighting fires but…. That ridge is 40 miles out visible last night. The visibility this AM (7 days ago when this posts) was less than 3 miles. 10 times this bad. The sun literally set in just a few minutes as the pall ascended to cover it’s face.
This has been a very dry year west of here. As bad as it is up here, it’s worse over by Sheridan and surrounding areas. Of course we are not nearly as bad as the poster child of rough years… California. Gotta love 100 degrees and rolling brown outs. This image represents a Wyoming/Montana Brown out so to speak. The grass here now is considered “hour fuel”. Hour fuels are combustibles that can be soaking wet but within an hour will readily ignite. Red Flag warnings are wide spread through out the south west. They occasionally work their way up into this country too.
We had lightning later around midnight that day. Fortunately it rained well enough to keep any lightning strike from taking off. Of course struck trees can smolder for days…. I go up on ridges often this time of year. Looking for that tell tale smoke plume. I’m carrying 50 gallons of water on “Clever Girl” and a portable water filled back pack. It does a good job on small hot spots. IF you can knock something out quickly, it’s better than letting it get big I assure you lolol. I’m not a tough as I used to be though but I’m often looking. Being there is everything.
This is from the early July fire. Just got to this. The crews that fought our range fire each took on a little part of the blaze. The 20 mph winds didn’t help this job. We emptied our 1000 gallon tank three times during this blaze. Here it is all over but the busy work. We and others just managed to keep this fire out of the trees just over this hill. There are 30 acres of nice north slope pine over that hill top. This tree was slightly singed by the heat. The fire was out above ground but was smoldering /very hot under the pine needles at the base of these trees. We responded to the scene within 15 minutes of me seeing it. I automatically go up on the ridges after a lightning strike.
We had to pull about 300 feet of hose to get back into those trees. The ranch uses a 5 Ton M813 truck with 6 wheel drive, a big old diesel, 10 speeds, transfer case and the works lol. I’m the driver. No air conditioning as I like to know what the crew is doing in the back is experiencing as far as heat and smoke. I could drive through places that those guys on the back might not like too much with the windows up lol. I’m a good driver on air suspension seats which help my bad neck. I wear a brace driving that big boy. It’s a tad accurate in reproducing the uneven ground under the the wheels (It’s bumpy). 54 inch high radials too lolol. One of these days I’ll post a photo of the source of this water stream lol.
So you want to go fight a fire eh? It’s not a Disney™ ride. I believe that I have never been more covered in dirt, sweat and soot more than by fighting a good grass fire. Just recently I took two very newbie guys out to fight our recent on ranch fire a few weeks ago as this posts. Trial by fire. They had no idea but hung in there….
I have been totally soaked, over heated and generally bounced to death. Driving a 1000 gallons of water in a 37000 pound 6 wheel drive truck to the scene is usually bumpy across the backcountry trails. Some of the toughest jobs on the planet is the professional smoke jumper game. The “hot spotters” are an amazing group of people. Olympic Athletes with a purpose all. The crews that come into clean up a fire area are careful, hard working and generally in a great attitude about what they do. God bless all first responders.
I don’t think the fire crews are generally worried about changing the way they work to suit the new “norms”. On the fire line, there are a few more considerations that somehow seem more immediate of a concern. You suck a lot of smoke if you dive in front of a grass fire with a big truck full of spraying water. I have found that behind the flame front it’s WAY too hot with the ground radiating heat as well as the flame. In front of the flame, you don’t want your truck or your pump to stop working. I have driven straight into an advancing flame front numerous times. I’ve also seen them so tall that I didn’t go through it.
Grass fires are a way of life up here on the grassy prairie Wyotana area. Sparsely populated with miles between ranches, a grass fire can go un-noticed until it’s almost out of control. A fast local response saves the gov’t thousands of dollars in pay and travel time. We do our best along with most of our neighbors that can. The same is true across the west.
This looks bad at first glance. One sees smoke rising from a structure. Trust me the century old house of the Historic Parks Ranch stands un-affected by the blaze 50 miles distant. That is just a REALLY big fire. Burning Hot in the drought ravaged Wyotana area to our west. This fire was just past the Powder River drainage on the Crow Reservation I believe. Perspectives, curved tree line, crepuscular rays and smoke plumes. PLUS an old ranch homestead with some blue sky peaking through. Very hard core, real world Wyotana in action.📷
I find that Really big fire plumes make interesting illusionary additions to background architectural constructs with in telephoto photography. Crushing distances like 50 miles versus a few hundred yards together is what telephotos do best. Add smoke, a sunset to an amazing old building well preserved and you have quite a composition in and of itself lol. I don’t get really big smoke plumes exactly in front of sunsets too often. I worked this over about 10 miles of north south backroads in both Montana and Wyoming. Those hills in the distance right are in Montana. I’m standing in Wyoming.
The most local actual newspaper from the small town Broadus Montana claimed June was the Driest on Record. I may have mis-read that. It’s durn dry here with July a bit better with all the water we got from that 30 minute long hail storm throwing up to 3 inch stones at us. Pool Table Ball sized stuff. This ranch avoided that hail storm, it went Just next door hitting us.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
In this high country, a spring fed pond is a rare thing. To find one with a reasonable view of almost straight west is a tall request. Not quite as tall as the smoke plume from this fire. My personal estimate is that thing is 40-50 miles straight west. I’m also thinking it is miles wide at this point. I had just spied it 5 hours before when a neighbor called me as to “what was burning on my side of the hill and where was it.
Spending the next 5 minutes to go up to a high ridge it was instantly obvious mid day. Fast forward to the “golden hour” and driving to a spot where I have a huge smoke filter to photographically work the sunset with. I called back the neighbor to let him know. Short discussion I had to zip off to intersect some other trucks headed this way. All of the ranchers in this region are on a hair trigger about responding to a spark. There is no worse feeling than watching a dry thunderstorm travel over an area only to see a smoke plume.
That fire is located pretty close to the Crow Reservation very near the border so your looking across from Wyoming to Montana here. We were covered by a pall of smoke all afternoon today (as I type this a week ago). I’ve had 2 sunsets to work from this fire so far. I bet it’s going to burn awhile as that is mountain goat country.