I do see some RARE colorcast Twilight situations now and again. This is real color I swear. The red light making it to the clouds above totally saturated the snow below with the same color. Like a projector screen reflecting the red to my camera. I am very accurate in my highlight colors and this is as I remember the scene vividly. This is actually the West view/back show with the eventual sunrise 20 minutes later than this capture.
I have one other similarly colorcast dominated image with a more yellow color. It was too a morning early Civil twilight even . I have just finished it’s image which is waiting in the wings to post here in a few days perhaps. The yellow colorcast image was a different twilight entirely. I’ve experienced only a few occasions of this kind of lighting in several decades of watching sunrises/sunsets. . It takes a very specific series of conditions to make this kind of twilight illumination. Catching and reproducing color accurately in my images is what I try to do. If it weren’t this way and it was a normal twilight, I would have removed this color from the image (which I could easily do). But this was the scene as I experienced it. Dramatic as heck to be honest.
Being there with a camera is the hard part in mid-winter. This particular occurrence happened in December 2018. I kept the camera busy that morning lol. 📸📸
The Journey we are on is varied in the paths we take. Many roads traveled and many not. Some choices were made to get where we are. Many were correct in the decision. Others might have been best remembered as a detour along the way.
As travelers, often we must choose between two bad choices others times the choice seems clear. I’m my journey, I have seen the best laid plans fail, and the least anticipated outcomes prevail against all logic. I’ve learned not to swim upstream. I try to float with the current that tows us all along with it’s inexorable pull.
Time and space occupy my thoughts some of the time. Oh not outer space but inner space. For I feel our understanding of what is “without” will be found from “within”. Much of what I observe externally conforms to my beliefs on how the mechanics of the universe I learned from my teachers. Their thoughts gathered from their professors and handed down thusly. The understanding of generations of observers of the natural world painstakingly and sometimes erroneously recited. There is a loss of information in the game of telephone.
The one truism I have learned during my many steps. Things are the way they are, not the way you are told or what you think. I always re-evaluate and modify my path to conform to the values that I have accepted over those miles. Just like taking a path down an untraveled snowy two track off into the distance. One must choose ones’ path carefully.
Boy is there a lot going on here. This was a dramatic morning to a student of clouds. The Kelvin-Heimholtz type Wave Cloud patterns on the top dark band is not a terribly common cloud phenomena. Differences in air density moving past one another making waves… Add to that the spread across the sky crepuscular rays during twilight. I probably have 4 other images in 30 years of photography. Twilight Crepuscular rays hard to find in my experience.
I was looking madly for a foreground object(s). Ones I could use on a mostly treeless parallel ridge between me and the show. The main sunrise still 10 minutes away. I move pretty quickly from place to place if it’s possible. Mid-winter presents it’s challenges to my access or more importantly egress from some of my ridge top photographic locations. I had to drive about a mile in variously deep snow to get this angle on the tree lined ridge over 2 miles distant from my position. There is a large deep drainage between that ridge and myself as well. Can’t get there from here lolol.
The yellow to orange to red Alpenglow gradients is typical morning midwinter. The longer traveled red rays illuminating the cloud deck from below. The Yellow / Orange part of the image is mostly Alpenglow. Alpenglow is exquisite here in the winter. Every twilight has some if the sun is not occluded by clouds. . There is usually ice in the atmosphere in the borderlands even mid summer sometimes. I’ve seen Alpenglow every month of the year.
This sunburst coming just over the edge of the far ridge is one of the most prodigious I’ve had come out of this camera. Part of it was there was a LOT of fog in the air for this. Primarily these sun star are diffraction artifacts inside the lens of the camera. They are either attractive to you or not I have found. I personally like them.
Are these rays there in the real world? Yes they are a result of light passing through a very small aperture. Light diffracts off the edge of the opening which you are seeing here. The same thing probably happens to your own eye but you’d be blinded if you tried so you turn away lolol. No one can look into a scene like this for very long twice. No human eye could do more than glance past this. Then you’d still be seeing spots. When the diffractions stars are BIG, it’s really bright. Also the F-stop is turned up to give me a small aperture. Cuts off light too … Wide focal fields with high F-stops lets me properly focus the grass at my feet AND the hillside.
This was taken a day before we got a pretty good snow. IT’s a LOT harder to get around up on the high ridges now. We’ve been in the deep freeze for a while with mid-February weather spitting a few inches every other day at us. No huge storms YET this winter, I hope we get snow spread out in smaller dumps rather than huge punctuated events with named winter storms.
As Canada Geese migrate, they make nightly stops here on open water which was getting rarer as the season went along. Migration consists of these big birds moving from where there were born, to warmer areas, then back to their birth place.
These geese are amazing birds with up to a 75 inch wingspan weighing between 5 and 15 pounds. Now a 15 pound bird is a LOT of bird. Big Males are nothing to mess with if they are being territorial and habituated to humans in city parks etc. They never stick around up here to give me a hard time so far. They will violently attack any creature that is a perceived threat to their goslings including humans.
The Canada Goose is literally the largest goose in the world. Having said that, there is a subspecies of canada goose that is the smallest goose species in the world as well. The oldest captive goose lived 40 year with 30 years being common in captivity. 10-25 in the wild is typical. They mate for life but if one mate is lost, they will take another.
True Story here on ranch…
I have some experience with geese chasing me. Never fought one. I did however have a confrontation with (captured them by hand) a wild 30 pound bird or 2 before (turkey) that was in our log house under construction at the time with no windows in the building yet. A flock of 1/2 dozen turkeys were inside. Not wanting to clean up the mess, it was my job to get them out…. I went in with safety glasses, a light jacket and gloves. I have determined that turkeys while flying through missing windows do well. Not so much flying out the same windows blanks in a log wall. (to the light). I had to catch each one of the birds Stuck on running around the room from me rather than trying to leave via the window. Dinosaurs all. Just no tail and teeth.
Getting to a favorite overlook for catching a Twilight Moment in the Backcountry in the Wyoming/Montana Borderlands is an exercise in driving remote two track roads in the dark dark lol. I might take 10 or 20 minutes to get into position for a shot like this pre-sunrise usually in late Nautical Twilight where stars are visible early on.
Eastern Skies almost always have better twilight shows than western skies as there is usually more ice in the atmosphere by my observations. Others may disagree.🤣This is in mid Civil Twilight which starts 28 (ish) minutes before actual sunrise. Nautical Twilight just ended and Astronomic Twilight (when the stars just disappear) has been over for a 1/2 hour. IT takes about an hour for the sun to rise. The horizon is actually falling away from covering the sun for the night. Remember it’s not the sun that’s moving. I remind you that it is the earth that is rotating. The horizon is literally falling when you look to the east about 4-6 inches during the time it takes a rifle bullet to reach 1000 yards out.
This Backcountry show starts in pitch black as deep as the North Atlantic Ocean (according to NOAA). Little dribs of color pushing through the dark. . As time progresses, the “volume” of the color wheel is turned up. Such Sky Shows are a pleasure to watch from beginning to end and I have done many many hundreds in totality. I’m pretty sure time isn’t taken off your lifeline for time spent watching sunrises and sunsets.
This is a 1 second time exposure as it is. No wind, dead calm or the pine needles would be a blur.
The commonality we all have with roads leading off into the distance brings back memories of “going over the pass”. Every time I crest a hill I never know what I’m going to see.
Taken early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. . I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy cloud gradient already on a remote high ridge. A fully involved sky is a treasure but this morning was a treasure chest with all the rare colorcast it led to later in the sky show.
Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.
Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you usually have to gain altitude to do so. Much easier on the roadways than back on the snowy ridges. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. Everything else is lower in this area. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country. This was a stressless busy morning for sure.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
Traveling the high ridges one tends to get tunnel vision. You look where your going not necessarily where you’ve been. Occasionally, I will stop and just take a photo of where I just traveled from. It’s a long way back that way…
Snow diamonds falling in the crisp mountain air here is startling to see live and fairly hard to capture adequately digitally. Seeing them on the ground is about the only way to see them. The intensity of the sun detracts from the intensity of the reflections off those hexagonal ice plates. Those fall like parachutes often out of almost clear skies when the moisture is wrung out of the air mass by the cooling. The plates I’ve seen falling like feathers before with blue skies around. They lay flat and act like mirrors on the otherwise crusted snow pack.
I’m pretty sure if I got a flat tire up here that AAA would show up like Bill Murray in “Ground Hog Day” with a jack. Maybe not…. 70 miles to the nearest 4 way stop light…. Fortunately I have really good tires now and really don’t expect to pop a tire any more. Having said that driving long distances in areas where there aren’t many people traveling by is potentially wrought with hazard.
If you don’t have the ability to get yourself out of trouble, best not go there. At any one time I could pull over and set up camp right here, I wouldn’t like it but I’d survive lolol. A minus 10 rated bag at minus 10 is still not enough in my experience lol. I also carry a radio (2) and spare batteries lolol. It does get back to the base from about anywhere I drive up here.
Just NEVER leave your vehicle if you get stuck in the middle of nowhere in winter. Start yanking insulation out of your seats to keep warm with if you have to. Always have survival gear suitable to your environment.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
As I am variously locked out of the backcountry by snow amounts and drifting, I tend to drive the backroads on mornings that are likely to light up. I saw the perspective, skidded to a stop, reversed and set up. I was trying to get that sunpillar centered within the visual tunnel created by the tractor tire. That tire is a “marker” as in, “drive 2 miles past the tractor tire” kind of directions. Some rancher planted this because it was easier than burying it completely. Fill up the inside with dirt and you stop the mosquito trap. It turned into a handy marker.
If I see an old “No Hunting” sign, I’ll stop just for that. Add a Tractor tire to that scene and you definitely got my attention. They on cue a sun pillar lined up precisely with the row of telephone poles running off in the distance. I don’t make this stuff up, I just capture the photons from it. Mother nature and ranchers got together here conspiring to make this composition. Neither party knew what they were ultimately up to I would speculate 😜😜👀📸
Sun Pillars are the result of falling hexagonal plates of ice all oriented flat as that is how they free fall. Like little parachutes they orient and reflect light off the gathering sunrise. The cumulative effect reflects light while the surrounding moisture absorbs it. Sun pillars can form above or below the sun itself. Here the sun is JUST below/behind the horizon. I don’t see a genuine purple sky too much but this one was real. Note no Purple snow.
Alpenglow such as this occurs when there is a LOT of ice in the atmosphere mostly during winter. . I’ve also seen smoke do this kind of scene in the summer. Here on the high ridges of the borderlands, I get to look at parallel ridge tops like this 40 miles away to the east.
After passing through a gauntlet of filters in the atmosphere, crimson/orange/yellow are the survivor hues. Absorbed/blocked/refracted away are the shorter wavelengths of color. Can’t trap them in my photon capture boxes (cameras) if they don’t make it to me. Passing that gauntlet to blues/greens and indigos consists not only of hundreds of miles of low angle atmosphere plus all the dust and the dirt suspended within.
The sun isn’t actually occupying the line of site where it appears to be here. Because of atmospheric “lensing”, the sun is actually still completely below your eye to the horizons line of sight. It just looks like it’s up. This accounts for several minutes of differences from rise/set charts versus the observed sunrise with the day always being longer due to lensing. The atmosphere literally bends it’s light around the curvature of the earth thus the “lens” part of atmospheric lens. This courtesy of inversions and thermal-clines. The path this light took was at least 300 miles of low angle air. The higher I go topographically, the longer the light I gets path. The redder the alpenglow.
The Lone Tree sees a sunset and a sunrise each day. Sometimes clouds trap all the light, the actors of the stage show have no spot to perform in. Sometimes dramatic plays happen overhead taking over an hour from start to finish. I have a tough job watching entire sunsets and sunrises as they mutate from second to second. I might take 800 photos of a particular sunrise as this. 3 or 4 images from the twilight will be finished. More images from after sunrise of this morning with different frames were equally as dramatic.
Skies as above are rare but the high ridges I work have their share. Dozens of decades under the trees “belt” , it’s perspective far exceeds our own limited memory of our travels. The complexity of our thought the tree can not conceive, but the perspective it has is beyond our comprehension.
Being a tree it has ultimately a figurative and literal connection to the land lol. I would like to think it is deeper than that. Much more connectivity between living things and the environment than we give them credit for occurs I feel. Even disconnected to nature by nurture human/me, can feel things happening an orderly manner here in the highlands. It’s probably my own psyche settling into the cycles, the yearly natural event of this place in space and time.
A tripod can come in handy in this lower light civil twilight sky. Long exposures are hard to do without them….
This capture was a scene that we as humans could not have looked into. Our eyes have MUCH more dynamic range than the best cameras. It was so bright it would blind you in short order. The camera however has the ability to shut off light significantly. By properly adjusting your 3 setting options in Manual Mode you can see images like this much more than I used to think.
Years ago I used to think this color in clouds was a rare phenomena. Now I know that I just never saw it because I never looked into the brightness. I believe that iridescent clouds as a phenomena is not that uncommon. We just can’t normally see it for all the glare plus our defensive glance away.
This was indeed a very bright scene. Again I emphasize if I don’t have color and detail in the shadows, the camera couldn’t see it. This is because of the cameras inability to see a great dynamic range as our eyes do. I’ll give the camera credit for the ability to look into the furnace like this. This was a perfect sky for this kind of light sculpting.
The wetlands here are holding this ice in reserve. As it warms in the spring, the water trapped with in will start working it’s way down the Mississippi River. The catfish and what ever else that is living under the foot thick ice here waits for the melt. Everything is on hold till green season.
Sometimes I make my way up to the high ridges and get totally overcast skies. I never know what I’m going to see until I get up there. I do have a camera looking at the eastern sky that I can not see from my homesteads location. We are down below the lip a 400 foot high ridgeline that runs for many miles. (Ridge 1 as I named it). There are 4 other significant ridges in my world all to the east of me. These I work photographically as I’m able to access them. Parallel Ridges are WONDERFUL sources of landscapes to capture otherwise known as a target rich environment.
This image was one of those heavy alpenglow AND foggy morning. This is creating what I call a bow wave from the sun in the floating atmospheric ice. It appears that the sun is sitting in a slingshot and is ready to take off up into the sky….oh wait, that is where it’s going Frozen Ice fog floating in the air is always interesting to see what effects it will have on the sunrise.
I don’t always go out for a sunrise, but when I do, I prefer something to filter the brightness of our furnace a tad. This was still very bright, rediculously so indeed.
Disclaimer: Don’t point a DSLR camera or a smaller (17mm) sensor camera at the sun unless you want to either blind yourself, or burn a hole on your cameras’ sensor chip.
A wonderful veiled sun rising with the branches of a ridge lined pine providing the close part of the Close / Far perspective here.
Topographically, I’m working just over the lip of this ridge but a bit back. (hundred yards). Opportunities like this after photographing that sun coming up over a ridge 20 miles out are important parts of the timeline. I move quickly to transition to working a closer ridge several hundred yards out as the horizon drops away from the suns face. A sunrise is a busy period of moving from place to place to take advantage of the terrain. It is very important to know WHERE to be and WHEN to move to the next shot.
I work “Parallel” ridges because I’m very mobile to look for interesting leading lines and angles. Byworking that shadow line I am able to do shots like this with a long telephoto. Click and move as I get a photo. Keeping busy to use the little timeline I had left in this capture.
The glare from the sun is quite a hard thing to deal with. I am literally looking into the sun with this camera. You’ve GOT to turn your camera to HIGH F-stop, LOW ISO and your shutter speed is used to balance the equation. With a telephoto like this I’ll be running f-64. You adjust either with a neutral density filter in front of your lens, or higher shutter speeds. Many consumer cameras don’t have 1/8000th shutter like the higher end models do to compensate . So faster shutter speed to reduce light into the camera may not be as much of an option depending on your equipment.
This view from the Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming to the Southeast across northern Crook County Wyoming. I’m actually standing in Campbell County with the camera. The sky was fully involved in a wonderful twilight sky snow.
Well you know those distant Mountains as Devils Tower (left) and the three Missouri Buttes (right). 4 ancient volcanos throats exposed by erosion remain elevated over the surrounding debris plains. The volcanos fed by these conduits didn’t erupt all at the same time precisely but were in the same general geologic time frame of a few million years. They are certainly all related and in the same volcanic “field”. Devils tower is 35 miles out from this spot…
Eruptions supplied by these pipes which occurred far above on ground that is no longer up there. Erosion removed a LOT of material that used to be above the Tower and the buttes. Deeply buried these rocks were originally. The harder rock making up the Eventually the pressure in the original volcanic system dropped to the point where it was not pushing magma up the pipes. Insulated by the surrounding rock, the magma froze slowly in place. Because of that insulation and the slow cooling, the rock (Phonolitic Porphyry) was able to “crystallize” and freeze into columns. Known for it’s columns, the Devil’s Tower has it’s status as our nations first national monument. The Missouri buttes only have SOME columns. Not as many or as well formed. So they are not considered monument worth lolol.
Location: Near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Textures in Twilight and sidelight. Using the headlights / LED lightbar of my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV from the side on the fence. The textures and shadow details would have remained muted without the extra light. A nice coating of first hoar frost then everything got coated in snow from a blow. Click!
This posted in late-January, we have had a marked lack of snow since about early November. Right now it’s ice season. I was in Gillette last night walking across a parking lot and I’d say it was actually an ice rink. Everything was wet during the day and within minutes of sunset, it turned to ice. I don’t get into town very much thankfully. We actually don’t have that problem living with gravel. The closest asphalt is 15 miles from this location.
This location is about 2 miles from the nearest gravel road. Only two track trails covered in bumpy ice are access routes to the backcountry. There is usually no easy way up on the ridges this time of year typically. Right now if it’s not muddy, I can zip right up to the high country. Usually I’m plowing paths just to get on top. If I don’t mind the bumps, I’m good to go 🙂 If this mid-winter drought keeps up, we will be short going into the year as we get MOST of our moisture from the winter snows. Those snows are what fills up the lakes and ponds on the ranch.
The drums beating in the distant past as the northern most Mayan Pyramid is back lit during the summer solstice. Crowds gather at it’s base in anticipation of the sunrise of the longest day of the year. The humidity mid summer was oppressive in the heat even up here half way between the Equator to the North Pole. Insects buzz around and things that slither in the night are awake. Mountain Lions call in the night. . Whole house holds emptied predawn for the sky spectacle around the main structure of the community. Heavy vegetation lines all roads leading to the pyramid. But no electric lights means it’s dark till sunrise.
Starting 1800 BC and Lasting to 900AD, the Mayan Empire had the largest most sophisticated culture in South America. This image COULD be the last northern most outpost up on what is now the Wyoming/Montana border. The Mayan certainly would have liked to built Pyramids on 45th parallel….. 🤔🤔. They might have to dress a little more warmly however. I’m thinking a whole new wardrobe up here lolol.
Back to my normal programming. 😜😜😜
This of course is a very dark image because it was a very bright scene. There was enough difference in illumination though that it was impossible to pick up detail in the shadows. Exposing the highlights properly is the main thing I try to accomplish. Deal with the shadows later… I prefer silhouettes than to have too force detail out of the dark in the digital arena. It was a striking scene to see live.
*Oh, this is a sedimentary rock Butte made of sandstone by mother nature. The hard caprock let it resist erosion. It is not a pyramid.
It’s about 20 minutes of traveling 2 track trails to get to this location I call sunrise ridge, I set up there high above the valley just over that lip waiting for that mornings stage show. This opening act was pretty much put on for my benefit alone. Mother nature takes care of me if I tread lightly but often I have discovered. There is something about paying dues, going out to chase the light regularly will pay off sooner or later. This winter I’ve been working on a lot of my older photographs. I haven’t gone out for “common” skies of late. Worse, the mid-late January Thaw we just went through has softened the back country soil considerably. The top 4 inches of topsoil are pure soup with some grass roots mixed in at the moment lol . Right now I leave deep foot prints just walking in the backcountry.
We actually need a freeze and a series of five or six 4 inch snows over a month to entice me to go out at the moment. I’m working Wyotana roads when ever I get away from the ranch of course. This winter will be one of getting the rest of my portfolio finished and on the web. I’m mixing and matching new and previous images all winter so bear with me.
I might have to reduce the total number of images I produce a day from 6 to 5 shortly. I’ll loose the last post of the day at 9PM and move the 6pm to 7 pm. Producing 6 finished print a day is a serious amount of work. I’ve done that every day since Sept 21. I don’t have enough time to get everything else done 😔
Living up on a high ridge allows for local streams / drainage incise (cut down) and make deep gullies. This dam was built some time in the last 100 years. I have heard no oral history of it’s timeline. This is on State Land adjacent to my ranch. A pretty good sized lake sits just above this first ridge. The lake pictured here is a wet area below that lake. Soaking water through the sands leaking onto this ground. The water level in the ground is high here. Traveling through this backcountry is a challenge to say the least ….
Mitten Butte, the pyramidal shaped butte sitting right frame . It is not a volcano though we have some volcanic necks in this country (Devil’s tower and Missouri Buttes). Formed because of a resistant to erosion cap rock protects all the rocks under it. There is about 400 feet between this drainage low area to the tip of that hill. 40 stories of topographic relief here. Following this deep gully up stream is indeed an interesting 4 wheel drive as that country is BIG back there. Lots of ups and downs and few straight paths. You have to drive the “topo lines” a lot of the time and go way around things. It’s 10 miles to the nearest ranch in that direction. This is very much hard to travel across this scar in the hillside.
I often drive up into remote topographic cul-de-sacs. I’ll start out, go into an area to travel through, but the ground is such that “you can’t get there from here”. lolol.
Morning Alpenglow Rockypoint Wyoming (side show of twilight just before sunrise left of frame)
Rockypoint Wyoming is a good 12 mile drive over good gravel roads from my residence. That takes me about 18 minutes from my driveway it drive below the speed limit. I have found that I’m a rediculously careful driver. The police driving course I took and subsequent on the street work, watching speeders and turn signal stops all day,. I was also an EMT for 17 years. Saw a lot of the result of bad triving. Sometime Days at a time in a small town in Ohio lol. I digress…
So I’m driving by this intersection, I see, and locked up the “antilock” brakes. With less than ideal traction, there was a spasmodic response of deceleration. The car slowed jerking to a stop. I backed up, rolled the window down to verify what I was seeing. It was pretty cold at the time and setting up a tripod is of course the came.
I carry my cameras in a modified beverage crate with plush sheepskin over it. I take a box of 5 or 6 cameras out each time I’m working a sunrise / sunset.
Having that crate seat belted in as well as any baby. Each camera has it’s own lens set up for different situations of course. I avoid having to deal with changing lenses to get just the right optic to bare. Changing lenses is very easy but it introduces dust into your camera when you are working in an already dusty environment. I’d rather change lenses in my house next to a HEPA filter.
Location: Rockypoint Wyoming, about 10 miles south of Montana in Crook County Wyoming by a few feet, Campbell county behind me.
The trip to get this (and other) images from this time line was memorable to me. I left the house around 6am well over an hour before sunrise. It had snowed 6 inches flat with zero wind. Yes I said, zero wind. It was a Sunday morning so traffic was non-existent on the backcountry road dozens of miles from the nearest highway. Every path was trackless until I drove that way. The back of the Jeep covered by 1/2 inch of hard snow crust from the drive in the powder. The tail lights visible as neon through the white translucent shroud. Everything was bathed in an icy blue/cyan cast over the snow. A pastel pink soaked the sky.
From my perspective I was alone without another living human for miles in all direction. The sky opened up for me at sunrise.
Worried I was the cloud cover would not relent it’s hold on the light passing through. Clouds ultimately are gate keepers of my work either allowing me to chase light or keeping me cloistered behind my computer lol. Fortunately, snow depth wasn’t a problem as it was flat. Sub-zero snow is very dry and powdery. It was like driving through flour. Mid-winter snow storms can be cold lolol.
Old Wooden Tower AERMotor Windmill heads were an expensive investment to the rancher back in the 30’s. A wooden tower was the cheap way to go. Wood does decay over 50 – 100 years out here. Lack of much rain is the reason. We are considered semi arid here, almost desert. There are NOT many left standing.
Location: somewhere near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).
With Up hill Perspectives pointing into the sun out there, I’m never lacking a subject in this area lol. Lots of snags (fallen trees) around the highland backcountry ranch land I work are about. They provide cover for smaller creatures as rabbits, mice etc. Some are big enough to provide rain cover under them. All sizes and shapes, ages and orientations are there for me to play with.
Only 3 settings to adjust in Manual Mode… F-stop, ISO and Shutter speed. Here is F-stop.
Close / Far work is good if you can get it 👀😜 Remember that depth of focus means the ability to have the close object in focus AND have the background in focus. The Manual Mode setting you use to be able to do this is F-Stop (aperture size). Large Fstop numbers are a small pin hole in your lens and gives you DEEEEEEP fields of focus. Small Fstop numbers would have blurred anything past the grass with a narrow depth of focus.
Being a double edged sword, F-stop will simultaneously shut off light as you turn up the numbers setting higher. A higher F-stop number = A smaller hole in your lens gives you good focus but steals light. A larger hole in your lens lets in a lot of light but you have no dept of focus. F-stop is the hard one to understand. Now all you have to do is figure out how to adjust the f-stop in Manual mode in your individual camera. It’s usually a thumb adjustment.
Looking west During Sunrise instead of at the “main show”. I look over my left shoulder, the “Pink Belt of Venu”s variety of Alpenglow DOMINATES the back show.
I wonder why they call those mountains the “Red Hills” ? 🤔🤔 Humm…
The Science of this.
The Light Version:
The Pink Alpenglow known as “The Belt of Venus” is literally the back screen of live real IMAX theatre screen I live surround by. Only the longer more penetrative red/pink rays of light make it through all the atmosphere to the relatively light grey / opaque atmospheric ice present. Here the BOV is working it’s way down’ on the Red Hills. The ice refracts and reflects even more red back to my fancy photon capture boxes. The red rocks on the hills are also adding to the effect of just the debris apron up of the Mountain. It is exposed to the sun over the shadow of the horizon behind me as the red light moves down the peaks. Technically the sun has risen for some places and not for others. I am standing in deep shadow as is the 40 mile wide valley in front of me.
Between me and that ridge is the Little Powder River Valley with the Montana/Wyoming border somewhere in there. That little 6 foot wide river removed all the sediment between where I stand and those mountains all by itself. No kidding. I wonder how long that took a spring flood and yearly freeze thaw cycles to break up the bedrock so the river can haul sand/silt/clay most of the time? Geologic time is a difficult concept to grasp.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Both Wyoming and Montana are in this image. Looking West.
Driving out to remote backcountry ridges up here in the borderlands is often the best part of the day. I’m taking roads with no other traffic to go to smaller two track trails with less traffic. 😜👀 Then I usually have to climb up on a ridge to get a view of the horizon . I live in a world of parallel ridges. Deep dissected gullies divide the high ground into distinct highways around the area. You generally try to travel the topographic lines around a hill side. Going into the valley and back up isn’t necessarily an option in this steep country. That far ridge sits 200 feet above the bottom of the gully between us. There is an old saying up in this country of: “you can’t get there from here”.
Now “You can’t get here from there” is a ubiquitous saying around Wyoming. Most places settlements / communities have only one way in and at most 2. The roads around here are always iffy. While that ridge is a few miles out, it would take me 30 minutes to get on it because of the above statement.
This morning was a fully involved Civil Twilight Sky. I saw this forming up really early and bolted for the backcountry. Took me about 20 minutes to get to this point. I worked the whole morning as it was a magnificent sunrise. I don’t see many this involved.
As I drive down the county red gravel road, I look to my left. Traveled a bit further to pull over safely. The paucity of traffic up here makes me drive even more carefully as I pull over at the strangest times. In the last 2 years I believe I’ve met less than 10 different cars / trucks out on the backroads working sunset/sunrises in this backcountry. . This image on “Section 36” taken 2 miles south of the Wyoming / Montana border . This is nothing like AREA 51 just so you know… . Section 36 in any particular township is the “school” section. That square mile reserved by the govt for the gov’t to be used for a school building.
This is a “School Section” mostly state owned ground 660 acres in size. It is leased to a neighboring ranch to me. A square Mile of State ground. Private ground past on the far Ridge. The pyramidal hill on the right skyline is “Mitten Butte”. Back in the 1950’s, the view the Parks Road /Trail Creek One room School House had. No neighbors then either. Only two signs of that old building… Some concrete foundations remain over a bank where they. Secondarily an old oil burning furnace about 3x3x5 feet still sits on the prairie marking the site where most of the local ranch kids learned the basics. It was a mile plus walk from our homestead where quite a few of the local kids came from to school.
The sub-zero morning I took this out on a flat covered by geothermal steam. The Hoar frost covered ANYTHING that was exposed to the wind. Freezing fog grew monster ice feathers off every surface that disrupted smooth air flow. Long shadows and red light dominate this scene …
Here on the Montana/Wyoming border, the snow is usually as deep as the backcountry is big. Just a few plowed paths are about to provide access to the high ground. The wind here moves a lot of snow from ridges to the surrounding slopes so if your on the ridge, DON’T get off the ridge. You loose the traction of “position” off the top. The snow on the flats is unpredictable.
Given the opportunity, I will set up for a Close/Far perspective capture when ever a fence “of interest” is around. This was a sunrise session that started in early twilight and worked for several hours. It’s not every day I see this kind of hoar frost plus red morning light. It does happen but not necessarily every year up here. The highest ridges are 4000 feet in elevation. This is around 3700 feet. Thus creating a fantastic environment for hoar frost growth to prodigious proportions.
Woven Wire Fence: When you absolutely don’t want smaller livestock going from pasture to pasture. It makes a wonderful nucleation spot for ice crystals to grow from. The low angle light was still awesome. Working backcountry has it’s little areas of zen. We just have to slow down and see them. Capture their photons. The ironically, hurry on to the next little spot of zen lololol. Such is the life of “working” a scene with cameras…. 📸🤔
Satire: Did I mention this is Satire but just to begin…. My father told me many times that “things are as they are, not as they seem, or you are told.”
You know we have a young sun. Young men often have trouble with their complexion. I heard the sun has some spots on it’s face. So, how do you expect the sun to get the spots off it’s face. Here Sol is going through the local “tree wash” before it rises up. Best be clean and shiny…. Best way it has found to get the spots off it’s face here during the solar minimum. I see the sun do this almost every morning. It takes a lot of work to keep your face under control as a youngster. . But there is a time and place for every photo and this moment in space and time is forever frozen. Caught him washing his spots I did ! 😜😜🤔📸📸
Back to my normal programming:
If you didn’t know, we are currently at the low period of the sunspot cycle. Every 9 to 14 years with a mean of 11 years, the sun goes from High to Low numbers of sunspots and back again. We’ve been watching this cycle repeat 25 times since it was first recorded in the early 1700’s. Men watching the sun with pinhole cameras could see them back in the day lol.
As I type this, there were 2 little sunspots just appearing on the suns disk. The first in months. Low sunspot numbers in the past has been affiliated with long periods of cold (Maunder Minimum is a phrase you should google). Suffice to say the sun behaves cyclically. It might not be good to get cold as famine is associated with cold times. As a GeoBiologist (literally) some of the most biologically active times on earth historically have been warm ones. Turning up and down the furnace as well as distance from that furnace is a BIG driver of the various climates earth has (Earth does not have a climate BTW. It has ALL climates on it)
I’m all about highlights. These dark brown/red seeded plants past the yucca were a projection screen for the sunlight just creeping over the hill top. Working backcountry ridge tops for perspective gives you interesting diversions from the normal. I put myself into the mind of a mouse and use the light from their hiding places in my photon capture boxes (cameras). I usually leave a few foreground objects out of focus to get the feeling of closeness. (It was)..
Using a Yucca sun filter, a Spike blocking the sphere of the sun proper from our view. This is yet another in a long line of “Close / Far” perspectives I have finished in the last couple of years.
Buying lenses Musings:
Close far perspectives require interestingly, a close focus capability along with higher fstop capability if possible. Most folks when buying lenses look at the focal length as everyone wants a long lens. God knows bigger is better right? 🤔😜. You actually CAN do this from a 400mm telephoto if you set it up right. The closest my 100-400mm Sony/zeiss telephoto will focus is 15 feet. So much for things in the way lolol. The 10mm Voightlander lens on a Sony Alpha 7R2 back I used here will focus down to 10 inches and do so under high fstop for a very deep focal field indeed.📷📷📸
The particular lenses I use isn’t important and isn’t my point. When your buying a low fstop lens is nice but I like lenses with HIGH fstop potential for close/far since higher fstops give you a thicker field of focus. Close to infinity is the game here. Evaluate perspective lense about how close they can focus. “Macro” lenses focus very close. But they MIGHT not focus close AND far at the same time. High stops with close focus is a very good thing in a lens used for this kind of image. Hope this helps if your buying gear.
Watching over the Deer Herd (Natural Spirit in the Sky). This is NOT art and is Natural as I photographed it. It’s a total anthropomorphic illusion totally done by mother nature. Border Magic occurs..
I love it when an old man in the clouds is overlooking a herd of mule deer up here in the borderlands. Wouldn’t be the first time (chuckles) Spirits in the sky, particular when they are natural will ALWAYS get my attention. Click !. It lasted about a minute then morphed into something not so anthropomorphic lolol.
Heavily Veiled this sunrise was. I was a few hundred yards out. I’ve been able to drive in among this group but I was on another mission that morning. The Light was my target, not deer closeups in low light… The deer herd is one that frequents this hay field for the Alfalfa that grows there. Water is nearby/running. Isolated and peaceful up there. It’s a wonderful place. The trick is to get the local deer herd familiar with your presence. They don’t see a lot of cars/rigs there. So me driving up and moving VERY slowly across a field stop and go. Acting like I’m grazing, eventually wins them over. In 20 minutes I could have been inside the herd like I was just another cow on the prairie.
This was captured mid spring 2019 and I just found the image buried in an”Images to finish” folder. Sitting nested with 1000’s of untouched images that I pulled for eventual evaluation over the last year or so. Somehow this one got past me for 8 months before I re-discovered the capture a week ago. The main problem with having literally years of work already “in the can” is that sooner or later one has to finish those images lolol. I’m stoic about it. My OCD will get them all done over time. Problem is I keep going out and capturing more each day mostly lolol.
The morning was cold but we are having a lack of snow at the moment. That could change by the time this posts lolol. At any rate, here the rear view mirror is reflecting the sunrise side of the sky and the main frame shows the Belt of Venus, the pink variety of Alpenglow.
A Backcountry drive in the borderlands:
Backcountry Gravel Roads this time of year are easy driving without snow depth. There are thousands of miles ofI took this back when I still had my Jeep Grand Cherokee which was limited in it’s off road activities mid-late winter. I’d go off on two trail tracks with my new rig to work at the moment but working roads has it’s advantages. You get to use the road itself as a leading line for the eye. It invokes memories of similar drives you have done. Or better gives you insight to a world you haven’t experienced. The high Wyotana skies are vibrant with pink to orange to yellow hues most mornings not overcast entirely. Some mornings as this a saturated with the hues.
The Orange sunrise behind is covered in other photos from this drive but the perspective that the rear view mirror gives you is worth the effort.
Quick Photographic thought.
Have fun with your high fstop when you try this as there are 3 layers of close/far focus issues plus it’s low light so your sucking wind for light to start with. Shutter speed has to be long to compensate, . Hard NOT to over expose the moon and see anything else in the frame. Your riding a knife edge on these.