A close / far perspective is never very far from my mind when working the backcountry. I often go places on ranch that I haven’t been for years. Sometimes that pays off in unusual ways. I really don’t find a lot of Pronghorn Skulls here. They are particularly rare here (anyway) with the horn sheaths still attached. Those fall off very easily as they are shed each year. To find a pretty well preserved skull already cleaned by the local insects…. it was a good morning lolol. I have a suspicion that when I get just the right place, I’m going to have this out at 100 yards with a HUGE sun between it’s horns due to the perspective. Stay tuned, it is riding in the back seat of “Clever Girl” until I find just the right composition for it.
I had been driving hills of late often going into 4 wheel low. The Raptor doesn’t have much trouble with the terrain. It takes me where I ask it too regardless of the smoke conditions. It seems to be able to breath just fine with it’s twin turbos lol. . Me I don’t like the air much, a little asthmatic from it, a slight cough. HEPA filter in the dash of the Truck AND in my living room at the moment. I keep the windows closed and limit my on foot time during this “inconvenience”. I normally drive TO the ridge and walk around. These smokey days, I’m driving all over the ridge and walking very little. Seems the smart thing to do. I’m also not putting my Mastiffs in their kennel. They hang out next to the HEPA and air conditioning vent.
The weather was calm with a just a slight acid tinge of forest fire smoke in the air. Conditions have improved ever so slightly with the passage of a front. The ridge 10 miles away (furthest) being partially obscured by it’s light filtering/scattering properties. The terrible smoke on the west coast is being blown east to west concentrating it over the major west coast cities. This weather system is sparing us the worst effects of the conflagration on the coast. Soon upper level air will bring smoke from Washington and Oregon that will blanket most of Montana. I will probably get some of that in this next week with more yellow suns and crimson clouds to come in the near future. (This posts about 10 days out from the photos capture. ).
The layers of ridges in this country make for substantial “landscape ladders” for Close / far perspectives. The first ridge is a mile away from me. The next ridge is 5 miles. The cloud bank 20 and the sun…93,000,000. By Definition this is a close/far perspective. The cattle in the foreground hidden until you read this lolol.
This is a typical backcountry Wyotana morning these days. Orange lighting, deep smoke filled valleys. As I type this the air quality is dang good but there is smoke HIGH in the atmosphere over us. The sun this morning was described to my by a friend as “it looks broken”. Here the sun looks to be sliding down hill on the cloud to me. The layers of this landscape creating this visual ladder that I’m always looking for in my work.
Smoke “filters” from forest fires to reduce the light coming from our furnace make for interesting photographic opportunities. This added a sun rising a minute before the actual sunrise time. You will find sunrise time is not a fixed time. Depending on the atmospheric conditions prevalent at any particular terminator crossing, you might get a sunrise where the sun is actually below the horizon appear as if in a mirage. Perhaps a minute or two earlier than the scheduled time. I personally have never seen it rise later. Topography and the distance to your horizon may make a slight difference is rise / set times.
This phenomena is termed “Atmospheric Lensing”. This is a physics of light discussion generally at grade school level. Most have not heard of this. Here the sun is not actually up. Bent around the globe light can be. This by the refractions caused by the differing densities of the atmosphere covering the planet in the thin blanket. As the horizon drops, the sun eventually catches up to it’s actual position well above the horizon. Not here though. This image bent considerably by natural forces. The sun’s outline heavily distorted. I’ve seen a variety of different manifestations of this distortion. This was a pretty cool one. Looks like a chubby Teen Age Ninja Turtle in orange to me lol.
IT was extraordinarily still. 20 minutes after sunrise. A perfect mirror in the stock pond. Cattle herds have been watering here for over 100 years for a timeline. Yet longer ago, the Sands of the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance formations providing the water that fills the small glass smooth earthen berm’d tank. This water body looks much larger than it appears here. The perspective of the very wide lens messing with us. More of a puddle than a pond. None the less, a provider of a perfect double image for me to capture during this rare (long term) smoke pall moderated sunrise. This is probably the only good effect from too hot a burning forests x 100 … massively cool photographic environments….
Even though the sun appears higher in the sky, it is quite dark under the thick plume from western fires. The forest releasing all sorts of combustion gasses and soot. This isn’t as bad as all the man made structures burning. All those plastic fumes are mixed in with the forest by products as well. This is an unparalleled event as I see and understand the enormity of these combined fires. The hugely damaging “Bobcat fire” alone plus 27 other blazes in California alone are adding to the flavor (literally you can taste this stuff) of the air.
I’ve seen a lot of smoke before from fires but I haven’t smelled the fires as much as this year. Nor have any previous year I’ve experienced in my 30 years living in Wyoming been this thick with mixed haze. As a geologist I will tell you that this isn’t 1 / 100,000 of how an exploding Yellowstone would effect the sky.. That would be pitch black raining ash. That was climate change if you don’t think it has changed before lolol.
Boy has this been a long stretch of Smoke Pall Sunrise events. I keep telling myself it’s a once in a lifetime situation. This tends to make me pay attention to the smoke conditions and sunrise times. I don’t always get to see the sun crack the horizon. This is the first light from the actual sun to reach my camera that morning. I knew about where it was going to rise (the notch on the ridge just left/below where it is now). I was there on time but not a photon made it through the smoke gauntlet to my capture boxes. NADA, nothing. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky above or anywhere on the satellite map. The low smoke on the ground completely occluding the window to our furnace for a good 20 minutes.
The ambient light on the landscape came from the sky above. It was illuminated through clearer air up high and more like a white ceiling than a blue sky in this pall. Chasing color in this lighting is perhaps a waste of time but I am digging the dozens of different colors of green and red displayed here. The fall is well upon the grasses. Brown season started early summer this year. Trees have not lost their leaves yet in this country which missed the earliest freeze by 1000 feet in elevation. (we are higher here so when the cold settles in the valleys freezing everything, not so much here ).
During the Fall Equinox (on Sept 22nd during 2020) Smoke Pall over the skies from the fires to the west.
Around the Equinox, the east / west trending fences have a tendency to fall into order with the universe. For all intents and purposes, this fence line is directly on the Montana / Wyoming border . Montana on the left and Wyoming on the right. Looking East at Sunrise. Ive done many fence perspectives straight on with the fencline. Getting above it so far was an act of crushing perspective with a long lens from a far away hill. Looking over this west slope of a local divide between upper drainage courses.
Many of my photo’s have parts of both states in them. Either a Wyoming ground with Montana Sky or visa-versa. Here the sun looks over all that ground. It is having a great deal of trouble getting it’s light to the ground. The Pall of Smoke this particular day (this has set in for a few months I’m thinking ) was different than each day before it. The strange “filtered light” feeling reminds me of watching a total solar eclipse.
You might note the “Hump Gate” mid-fence. It’s a Cattle gate I designed to put on the ground without having to dig a hole under it. Cattle don’t cross it but ATV’s zip right over it. Idle minds are problematic in my world lol.
You might have seen small drops of water on grass, plants and trees shining like pearls in the early hours of morning. Often misinterpreted as rain left on the grass but not so much. For those of you that are learning this stuff…
Dew drops are formed due to condensation of water vapors. Air around us contains water vapors which we call moisture or humidity. Hot air contains more moisture versus cold air. At night when the relatively warm / humid air comes into contact with colder surfaces, water vapor present condenses on the cold surface in the form of droplets. These tiny drops of water are of course called dew drops.
The dew formation is enhanced when the sky is clear and reduced when it is cloudy. When the sky is clear and the trees and plants are cooler at nights, there is more evaporation of water and hence more dew formation. But when it is cloudy, trees and plants do not get cool in the night. This results in less dew formation. As the sun raises high in the sky, these dew drops evaporate into air directly.
It seems to me… We really don’t have an excess of dewey mornings here on the MT/WY border. Maybe we have more but I’m not seeing. This is after all a very dry environment. Frost is a similar phenomena but below 32 degrees.
The cowboys have been awake for 50 minutes . Takes time to get geared up/. Grab some breakfast from the hen house… Then there is tack on the horses to apply. A few big Black Angus Bulls strayed from the local herd managed to successfully negotiate the fencing separating 2 herds. The separate owners would prefer not to mix cattle if possible lolol. The cow hands will go separate the bulls. Horses work best moving Bulls. Trust me on this… I’ve done it both with horses and with ATV’s. Not even close the two experiences are lol. One is comfortable, the other is stupid lol.
Even the best of fences, while keeping good neighbors, is but an inconvenience to a Big Angus Bull with love on his mind. Operations generally try to keep Bulls Pinned and landlocked with another pasture between them and the next herd. Even 5 wire barbed wire can be easily over come by nearly a ton of BIG willed fellow. Thick skinned they are. Not many made into couches due to that tendency to scar themselves up a tad in the spring.
Bull Fences must be well built. Any structure that you intend to work any significant number of “head” over the years has to be a long term engineering project. Well built and heavy. Iron is best of course. There are MANY sucker rod and drill stem pipe fences built/welded together up here in Oil field country. They are permanent additions to any cattle operation.
Less longevity built in, this particular Wood Plank Fence is quite old, still willing to hold back the cattle pressure from the other side. We are just an inch of precipitation yearly from being called a desert… as such wood lasts a LONG time. Many decades of life.
Getting the opportunity to image skies like we have been experiencing of late is once in a lifetime (I hope). I’ve lived in Wyoming for 30 years (10 in Jackson Hole and 20 here in eastern Wyotana. ). I’ve seen wildfire skies from smoke palls before. Never even close to the severity put on display for so many. If you have been living under a rock (not a bad idea these days) of late and haven’t experienced these… don’t. You won’t like it.
There is a very odd feeling associated with living under the plume from major fires up wind for weeks at a time. Having experienced the 2017 total solar eclipse, I have a basis by which to compare. The feeling of the sun dimming is perceptable under both phenomena. As a friend said, “it is like the sun is broken”. Nothing is getting the energy it prefers so even the few plants that are actively growing aren’t storing the sugars they need for the winter. All of the west is under this pall variously through out the last month. Weeks at a time.
The closer you get to the west coast, the worse it gets. There is so much smoke, you can see it from space easily as it whiffs around the globe with the prevailing winds. In a few weeks it will come back around at us from the west again. This will effectively block sunlight and lower the amount of solar radiation we will receive. There are complex relationships involved with local temperatures. I believe the Pall will lower regional temperatures than they would have been without the smoke (duh). Anytime you reflect energy away from the surface, you loose temperature as the sun is the furnace here. Might just be a very cool winter as a result of all this soot in the air. The west coast just put a bit of particulates and CO2 into the air. Forest Management is a good investment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Good Morning… Right at the crack of dawn, all the colors of this land are popping. From the grey of the Bentonitic soil under a thin coating of grass in front. To the unique blue of the sage brush 50 yards out. Sage being one of the most important keys I use to match camera color values versus reality. I pay very close attention to the hues of the grass in a particular light. Getting colors as rich as this is a matter of timing. As the horizon falls away enough to expose the sun (we’re the ones that are spinning remember), the light was perfect. A reasonably balance of the rainbow was just starting to appear. I find in Twilight captures, there is perfect time for this. A few minutes on either side and the light is gone or not there yet.
Knowing when to leave a scene is a developed skill. I could click away at this sky but it’s going to wash out in seconds from the fully engaged glare of our sun. This is the time when I turn around to check out the back show in the skies over my shoulder here. This was a complex weather system involving some sporty weather the evening before. It’s usually a good bet the next morning after storms move though.
Sometimes it takes me a while to get to some of these backcountry locations I shoot mornings from. I can’t see the eastern horizon from my homestead so travel is always involved. Sunsets are way easier lol. I can work from my porch sometimes, driveway others lol. This was about a mile east but 400 feet higher than my driveway. The ridges here are all more or less parallel to one another in this upper drainage. Having said that we are at 4000 feet roughly which is LOW in Wyotana. The LOWEST spot in Wyoming is 3099 feet not far from here. The LOWEST topography in Montana is 1820 feet. 🤔
Some of the coolest pink lighting the next morning after the same color pink moon 7. The same conditions filtering the light occurred in the same air mass as the night before for. I noted the unusual pink color in a recent post with that colored moon rising. Next morning, there it was again. This is not the first time I’ve seen the same atmospheric conditions cause similar photographs from evening to the next morning. This pink that is literally touching the horizon closely matches the color of moon in that timeline the previous night. I will never forget that color. Surprised me it did lol.
To facilitate a long dark drive up on the ridges to get a good view of the east horizon, I have to prepare and travel early. I generally do not work perfectly clear sky sunrises but I can see colors like this very early. The recent hail storm messed up my sunrise camera beyond repair. It totally destroyed it’s protective housing. Then it got flooded. . A replacement for it and a few others is yet to be ordered. I now have some insurance money to replace that tool in my tool chest. It enables me to see over “Ridge One” before sunrise and get a better idea on whether to go our or now. It’s a fairly high priority item for me to work on after all the damage as I used to use it literally every morning.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana) (The left side of the photo is Montana, the right side is Wyoming).
So I wake up the other morning and much to my surprise, was a local pyramidal hillock that was blowing it’s top. The steam was rising, the cauldron boiling. I anticipate pyroclastic flows, lahars, glowing red hot clouds and other volcanic manifestations similar to what buried Pompeii. Ash should start falling any moment. Maybe “Sneaky Pete” the windmill will save the day and blow the ash away…
Back to my normal programming: OK, this is NOT a volcano. It takes a properly positioned camera lol. Those are normal clouds up in the sky. Yellowstone is not blowing up. The Devil’s Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck field about 50 miles to my southeast has not reactivated. No, the Laramide Orogeny has not started back up just yet.
That Butte (called Turtle Butte), is made of layers of river sands stacked on top of one another. The volcanic shape is a result of a hard cap rock which resisted erosion better than every thing else between it and myself. All that rock has been removed by erosion. It is a erosive remnant of all the material that used to surround the hill. Hundreds of feet if not thousands of feet (depending on your location) of sediment has been removed around here. Remember Devils Tower? That used to be a mile or so deep. Now it sticks up 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. That river system essentially removed enough material to expose the harder tower. Same process here except just the top of the hill is harder rock.
Finding windows through vegetation is a matter of either finding them randomly or making them for use later. This tree I cleared out some limbs months ago to make a slot just for this week. Fitting the sun into the slot is a whole different matter. First of all as the sun is rising it moves to the right. As it moves to the right, I have to move to the left. Tripods don’t work for this. Handheld will work just fine.
Topography is my master. To align such a vision, I have to be at just a certain x, y, z coordinate at a certain time. The earth has to cooperate with me to give me a place to stand. I have maybe a minute to work scenes like this as the earth will drop away and the sun would be hidden by the horizon. If the ground I’m on climbs, the sun would have to climb out of the bushes it’s resting on. It’s already climbing for the day. Here I caught it being lazy resting before the arduous climb to the it’s zenith that day.
That morning was cool for a early august sunrise. Some morning are in the low 50’s up this high. Nothing like the days I lived in Jackson at 6200 feet where we actually could routinely get some snow in the summer. Not so much down here at 4000 feet in Wyotana.
(Maybe a little silly satire). We are pretty green up here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. I believe there are 24 big solar panels up and running things like water wells up here. Wind generators 2. Underground and above ground green house. Big windmills 2.
I can only align this the 28th of July and May 15 when the sun rises in a certain position. Otherwise the spacing is all off and nothing is aligned throwing off my OCD (I have it bad) Compositional requirements all amok. There is no alternative to turning the camera mostly off to light pointing a telephoto into the sun. (NO DSLR’s). The background ALWAYS goes to some shade of burnt umber and the sun goes yellow. I must point out that with a telephoto a close / far perspective like this with 4 layers of objects.
“Sneaky Pete” the windmill is 200 yards out. The smaller wind electric generator is 100 yards out. The Hand water pump about 120 yards along with the vent pipe the sun is sitting on. Re: vent pipe, I seriously overbuild my infrastructure up on ranch to support the mass of celestial objects as the sun. Bought that pipe years ago. My comment is they don’t make things like they used to. 😜 📷
I have a habit of catching both the sun and moon being lazy sitting down on the job like this. For all I know the sun is management (sitting around) and the other guys are out there pumping water… Oh wait, that is sort of how business works isn’t it? lololol. The sun provides the power for all these devices, human made (machinations) to run water pumps. Windmills (wind engines) can be used to pump water/air or circulate fluids, the wind is powered by the sun.
The smaller windmill charges a batter bank which is about 10 years old currently and holds a charge well. Still good batteries maintained by that. Runs a small water pump from a cistern Vented with a hand operated cast iron water pump. Good old man power also initially powered by the sun. 🤔 Getting all these actors to line up is like herding cats. The pipe is leaning from all that weight….. 👅
Mayan Pyramids on the Montana border…. Perhaps but the geologist in my pulls my imagination back in lol. Timing and position is a critical factor in this kind of image. The hill top is over a mile away with me watching the sun slowly rise while climbing up its left side. You see the sun moves up yet but it always moves to the right horizontally as well. More “Diagonally” up the sky than straight up.
So I started vividly imagining this unfolding stage play of the Mayan King awaiting the mounting of the sun god on the great pyramid. This “pyramid” is literally located 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole. 45 degrees North Latitude about where that tree stump is on the left. This must be a far northern suburb of the Chacchoben, Place of the Red Corn in Yucatec. But wait, the Hill seems to have fossil turtle remains, and dinosaurian parts and pieces in consistently sandstone/mudstone sequences. It is/was not built by stacking man made blocks as ancient cultures were so adept at constructing. Shape is a poor indicator of what things are. As we Pariedoliacs well know eh? The substance has to be there…
The area around the sun is VERY bright. You will need a mirrorless camera as looking into the sun through a DSLR camera could blind you. It’s a direct light path from the sun to your eye. I look at a video screen inside my camera so it’s impossible to blind yourself with one of the mirrorless cameras out there. However I suggest you check with the manufacturer to see if your particular camera can take this kind of abuse. A good use of negative space I think…. 😜
The morning that showed me this view was 14 hours earlier than when I typed this narrative. It’s rare that I take a photo and schedule it to be published the same day. Sort of like being a bouncer choosing who gets to enter a nightclub. If your a “looker”, you go right to the front of the line. There are several thousand images for me to finish at the moment lolol. They are sitting in a folder on my workstations desktop called “Images to finish”. Job security 📸
The texture on this wonderful old snag from 100 years of exposure to the elements. It is harsh here in Wyotana with hot high altitude sunny summer days and terribly dark cold winters. Wood rot here take a LONG time as 14 inches a year average of precip tends to reduce rot. There are a LOT of “Snags” around from the 1930’s fire that “burned until the snow fell” up in this country. This one developed even more character as those orangish spots are bruises from the hail storm that threw up to 3 inch ice balls at it. The Mountain in the knot hole is known to me as “Turtle Butte”. It is precisely on the Montana/Wyoming border about 1/2 and half. 🤔
This is the second of a series with this Snag. I worked it a few years back as well. The lighting was entirely different then and it hadn’t hailed lol. The old masters would go back to the same place again and again to get different light. It was harder to travel then. I just work a very large area of backcountry photographically.
When I first looked at this Snag up literally on the Montana/Wyoming border, I thought it was covered with lichen. In fact there is some orange lichen on this snag. It has been here for a long time, survived a hundred years under the clouds. MOST of the orance patches are NOT lichen, they are SCARS from the up to 3 inch hail that went over this spot for about 1/2 an hour back 3 weeks ago. If you weren’t under cover for this storm, you had a bad day. We had a bad day and we WERE undercover. I can imagine the panic deer must have encountered from this monster hail storm.
I’m pretty sure the old saying, “It’s gonna leave a mark” applies to this storm. As far as I know nothing has died around here that I know about from it. I haven’t been everywhere yet though. Longer it goes the less likely I’ll find any casualties. I haven’t noticed any vultures circling.
This was taken the morning of the afternoon that I finished it. I really like the grain of this fallen soldier of the high prairie. Living 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator has environmental attributes of both places at times. I’ve learned to go inside when it’s time. Wild things don’t usually have that choice but I’m thinking that if there was something to get under, it was already occupied about that time lol.
Oh yeah, Nice sunrise, smoke from the fire 40 miles over my shoulder was still lofting into the sky. IT’s fire season and it’s going to be a long summer.
Most of you know I maintain a network of Game Trail Cameras across my ranch. Various trails and natural choke points are favorite places of mine to plant them. I have to decide WHERE to put them. This is based on WHERE the unknown creature destined to walk in front of my automatic cameras will inhabit eventually. I noticed a well used path down near a local lake where small animals obviously had tread prior to my discovery of the local highway. Out comes a game trail camera with a view of the path.
Of course I have no control over environmental lighting. Moving animals at night are hard for Game Trail Cameras to freeze. This one did pretty well but at 5:15AM, just a bit before sunrise that day, there was enough ambient light to freeze this little canid (I think a Fox of some sort). What was REALLY interesting was the breakfast it had in it’s mouth.
I wish I knew the back story of this. I can only by implication assume the fish was dead on the shore. The other alternative is he did some early morning fishing which would be different for sure lolol. The Fox may like his sushi from a gas station refrigerator next to the automotive fluids aisle. You know, a little past prime perhaps?? There was a pretty good grass fire here on ranch lately so maybe he had that fish cooked first. Back to reality, the lake is getting lower and a fish may have been trapped in the shallow. At any rate, caught him with his breakfast. Yumm. 😜
Summer sunsets happen early. This one at 5:31AM. The ridge I wanted to work for this had a good view of the crescent moon. Working the crescent moon from 5 AM until it was lost in the haze. Keeping busy with cameras is a good thing. I was loving the roiling distortion around the edge of the solar disk. It’s a result of the atmosphere distorting the shape and the details. The sun is ACTUALLY below the line of sight (below the horizon). The atmosphere is bending it’s image around the corner for a few minutes at the rise.
I have Sirius XM radio plus a reasonable audio system in the Raptor. This has been a good thing up here. I went out doing backcountry photography for years on an open ATV with my cameras in a open basket. No tunes…. I’ve work open ATV’s to -30. Having had cameras literally not work from the cold…. I put 3500 miles on that ATV one year doing backcountry photography only in this area.
This year, I’ve accumulated 1300 miles of only backcountry driving. In the Ford Raptor’s first 6 months. The Raptor is an all weather, all terrain, comfortable photographic studio for me to work from. There are not many places it would not go within reason up in this region if I asked it to. Think of it as a “Free Runner” which is a truck built for racing courses like the Baja 500. So far, it will do anything I ask of it that I’m not afraid to do. 📸 🤘 More hail dents than I like on it though….. ☹️