“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.
I titled this Shock but I could have used Bow wave just as well. The atmospheric phenomena you are seeing here is a very complex interaction for sure. The color is real as is the wave in front of the sun. I was watching this clearly on my video eyepiece just as you see it here. The Pall of Smoke was significant even for recent standards.
Amazing light effects occur in a heavily occluded / smoky atmospheric haze. I have views looking west from the local that reach out 93,000,000 miles to the sun. Between myself and the sun are many miles of atmosphere acting as a filter to all but red and yellow light. (With all gradations in between like orange).
I think there are a lot of things going on here with the color and the gradients. You will note a baseball diamond shaped area of yellow above the sun is the highest sky where yellow can penetrate with a given intensity. (a calculus equation or two involved here I suspect chuckle). Less smoke between me and the light there. Below on the wave, only the red light can penetrate the haze. The closer to the sun, the brighter the light the haze has to block. The curve will be smooth around the base. Mother Natures Geometry at her best artist strokes. I love smooth gradients but naturally stepped gradients are massively cool. Maybe it’s just me chasing light again lolol.
I’ve seen this only a few times in my travels. I suspect it has a name but I haven’t researched it.
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 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….
Good Morning… Taken from a high point overlooking the Montana/Wyoming border into the furthest north drainage in Wyoming. The telephoto camera sees a ridge 60 miles to the south. At the left end of that ridge stands a hidden in the mist Gillette Wyoming. Around 20+ thousand people live there. The actual population depends on the time of year certainly. The boom or bust of the local economy there depends on oil, gas and coal. The blue collar guys working the hydrocarbons and the white collars that manage it all live here. Lots of people drive through there on the way to Yellowstone every year. It is the first bigger town in Wyoming on the east side.
At night I can see any clouds over them from all the sodium lights. With time it golden light pollution will turn blue as the switch to LED is underway. That is a lot of ground in between. The road distance is 70 miles but it’s 60 as the crow flies. I’ve taken photos of fireworks from up at this location during a Gillette Wyoming sky show. They would look like a dim dot on this scale of magnification. I can zoom up to show clusters of shells going off but not much detail. It’s a long way to Gillette. Took a two day trip with a buck wagon with a team. I’m sure the local pioneers enjoyed the overnight between here and there. They were tougher back then.
I started working this storm because I couldn’t get out of it’s way. There were a few rain/hail shafts pursuing me across the flats so I went up on the ridges to get a better look at the storm. It’s not often I get to see running water in these ephemeral washes. (Good word to google). This storm just Dumped Water with marble sized hail for some time. I’m estimating 2 inches of precip fell with right at an inch of ice in places. Here it had melted somewhat since it was 60 degrees out up at the local top of the world for this shot.
The water that was accumulating down river would have been significant from this storm. I didn’t go down to the flats where dozens of these little washes conjoin into a much bigger force to be dealt with down river.
The Storm was breaking as sunset approached. Passing to our east leaving me with a window to the sky. A crepuscular display ensued for our enjoyment.
The chill in the air that night was only matched in it’s uniqueness only by the mist rising then flowing down valley. Neither something I’m used to this drought year. A river of dense fog rolling down the valley. That vision has already published on the internet a week ago. The saturated air hitting all the hail ice covering the ground made a wonderful fog generator. Both evaporation and sublimation (another google word) was occurring along with the flooding locally.
I see the light. Light has a tendency to travel in a straight line unless acted upon. Usually this is by passing through a change in media such as air to water. This refracts the light. As I was carefully wandering in the twilight dusk along a high ridge. I was scanning for imaginary faces in the silhouette. (This image having many for you Pareidoliacs out there).
Having huge deep boulders on the skyline usually makes anthropomorphic imaginings easy. This scene froze me in my tracks. The spot of orange light in the black on the low right is actually showing THROUGH the boulder field. Talk about a gauntlet/light filter lol. I’m not used to seeing straight lines through rocks. My geologic background caused OCD kicks in lolol.
I was walking around with the wrong camera upon first happenstance to see this. “Clever Girl” was up the hill about 4 stories. Climbed up and traded cameras, climbed back down. (Got to stay in shape to do this stuff). I figured I was never going to find the exact same place in 3-D space again. I went back to roughly the same spot with this lens, found the “zone” and clicked. It was visible in a little window about 2 feet by 2 feet. Move outside that box and I couldn’t see it.
It’s an obvious metaphor. Simply put: “Seeing the light is looking at JUST the right angle at the right time. “
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.
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.
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. 😎
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 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. 😜
Holy Smokes (sorry bad pun). Sitting in the grassy field 15 miles from the nearest asphalt road, this old freight wagon may have been here as early as 1906. It hauled freight for decades traveling the minimum 30 mile round trip to the nearest General Store. Both Rockypoint Wyoming and Biddle Montana were a day trip from this location by horse drawn wagon.
Bulk flour, sugar, salt, cow medical supplies, canned foods, canning supplies, seeds, cloth and every other household good you can imagine. The settlers survived this remote backcountry without electricity until 1956 (I understand). No telephone until 1964. No broadband internet until I built piped it in via Microwave in 2012 where it is distributed to various ranches and a local school 30 miles distant. This place has seen it all in the last 120 years. I’ve been here 20.
Wood exposed to the elements lasts a long time here. Even non treated wood. The generally dry (a few inches a year long on being a desert) environment here preserves many things. Nothing decays quickly I know of ‘petrified animals” (cows mostly) that have died. One is well over a decade old. It seems leather is preserved a long time too. I’ve found old leather shoes in an 80 year old over bank trash pile left from an old homestead.
The mentality then wasn’t to bury non-burnable trash but to throw it over the nearest gully bank. Out of site out of mind. Mostly the early homesteaders didn’t have plastics so only glass and iron are present in the landfill. A few early ‘plastics” mostly antique car parts/pieces are out there in the old dumps. Most of the ranches today are made up of many smaller original homesteads. We have 3 original homesteads on this ranch.
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.
Dramatic occluded sunsets are typically dark. I present this dark because it was lolol. . It’s the color I was after in the highlights. It was dark enough that the dynamic range (DR) of the camera was apparent. The lack of DR there of is my point I’m thinking. My eye could discern much more detail in this lighting environment. There is a point. When the full sized sun popping through a thin slit on the horizon. Is effective already down. More of a candle light than the furnace it would be with the cloudy obfuscation. Most images would have a completely black / silhouette landscape in this light. Cameras dynamic range is lacking compared to the human eye. There are some that are better than most others lol. Give the technology a few years
There is a LOT of detail in the landscape buried in the “black” . Most of the ground here is 400 feet or so below the hill I chose to climb that evening. Driving up these hills can be challenging, but then the sun goes down and your still up the hill…..😜 One of the few disadvantages of “Clever Girl” versus my old Jeep Grand or even my Polaris Crew Ranger is being able to see over that big hood. IT does have a camera up there though…… 📷 It is also a full foot wider than my Jeep Grand Cherokee so fitting between trees I used to fit through becomes a considered thought process lolol.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana Title: Good Evening All
Looking into the furnace is a hazardous thing to do with most cameras. I don’t suggest pointing a camera with a telescopic lens into the sun unless you really know what your doing. This was very bright of course going to places the human eye can only glance into for fractions of a second. More and your doing damage to your eyes. Don’t…I use gear that is good with this.
The old growth pines on this ridge, married a long time living together. Roots intertwining for well over 100 years. Sharing the same ground will tend to put everybody on the same page. The metaphor here leads to the conclusion that common interests exceed differences. The trees work together blocking the wind and gathering the light most of the time. Here they are cooperating with me making a nice frame for my sunset that evening. The have both survived decades of grass fires burning to their base. Survivors both.
The Yellow surrounding the sun is where the term “Golden Hour” comes from. What I’m after is the smooth yellow to blue gradient here with every color variation in between the two end members. Needless to say this is a wide lens involved to fit all of this in the frame lol.
Funny how just about every little branch is pointing toward the sun. When I compose inside of the camera, I’m actively looking for the symmetry that is all around us, but not so obvious. I find looking is way different that seeing what is actually going on within the infinite angles we can imagine. Moving your head a few inches either way and the 8 or 9 leading lines to the sun focal point. Actually I’m all about that clump of needles on the lower left lol. My favorite way to do this is driving parallel to a treed ridge with a really long telephoto with high fstop. Way back from the trees. Distance is your friend. Look for the natural frames. I have some wonderful images doing that very thing.
I blurred the background on this one for a change. Just a little bit of distance perception and I’m playing for the next time I’m near this spot. With (at least mine) mirrorless cameras, you can see what is in focus and what isn’t. The parts of the image in focus are highlighted digitally so I can actually see where the lines of high contrast are and aren’t. I would never buy another DSLR camera. I’m horribly hooked on Mirrorless technology at this point.
Musings on Smokey Summers:
Some of this summer’s evenings are taking a markedly red tint versus the so common golden evenings. I’m blaming the particulates in the air from the numerous forest fires up wind of our position. Just pick your wind direction for the smokes sources unfortunately. The 2018 fire season was a particularly bad one. Really seriously deeply filtered crimson sunsets were common. Right now we are starting to get more filtered light only in the longer wavelengths. The color dominates by the other colors total absence being absorbed by the atmosphere. I hope 2020 is nothing like 2018 forest fire wise.
When one of these Mesocylcones moves over you, the understanding of how insignificant our concerns are compared to the scale of a storm such as this. This storm was 80 miles to our north and certainly covered parts of 3 states. I’m taking the photo from Wyoming looking northeast toward Ekalaka Montana not far from the triple border area of Montana/South Dakota/North Dakota.. That is very close to the exact geographic center of the North American Continent coincidentally.🤔 (Factoid out of the blue).
I had followed this storm around a while working the light here just as the last gasps of the light of day skiffs off the hill tops. A complex cloud system 360 degrees surrounding me made for an interesting evening. Focusing here on the “backshow” of the main show over my left shoulder. Looking here to the northeast near Rockypoint Wyoming. I’m pretty sure a lot of people saw this show about 10 days before this posts. My current time from click to publishing is around that interval this summer.
I photograph a lot of weather systems these days. I couldn’t ask for a better time of day with the lighting that night. Note the top of the storm is white with blue sky. That is unfiltered light. The lower part of the storm is illuminated by the same red light skiffing off the hilltops. The late “Golden Hour” red colorcast is related to the “Belt of Venus” alpenglow colors but the cloud is the projecting screen. In true “Belt of Venus” colorcast the projector screen is ice in the atmosphere not clouds. It’s the same type of light though, all filtered of it’s shorter wavelengths of indio blue and green. Only orange through red survive to be reflected to my lenses. The colors here are true to the scene I saw. It got a LOT redder later in this timeline. The lower in the cloud, the longer through the atmosphere the light had to travel. Stay tuned for those later images. Brilliant orange stuff… 📷
Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
I had to think a little ahead this evening to get to this particular pond as the sun was going down. Timing… I became aware of these about an hour and a half before sunset. All the way (about 10 miles of gravel backcountry roads) to this little pond with somewhat of a north view. I would have liked to have had a reflecting pond on that ridge top but I’m thinking that would have been too much to ask for lol. They look like at atomic bomb cloud and actually have as much energy wound up as a small A-bomb.
This is just a small stock pond below a water tank up high in the backcountry. . I’ve seen lots of wildlife and Angus here historically. This evening was not a busy one for the critters at dusk. I figure they were up on the higher ridges getting a look at these two Massive storms off 85 miles North. I’m standing near the Montana / Wyoming border but those storms are 80 miles north and slightly east. This places them across the Montana, South Dakota/NorthDakota Triple border area. The two storms covering parts of 3 states.
The sunset that night was perfect for these storms to light up with the plethora of orange light we’ve been having of late. The fires west of us reddening up the already color cast nature of the “Golden Hour”. I worked this storm system from afar for about 2 hours. We have had our share of bad weather this year. Hopefully late summer and early fall will be more gentle.
When looking at a bright Crimson Sunset, one has to take it in perspective. Look how large the sun is relative to how you normally see it. This is zoomed WAY into just a little small area of the sky. Which by the way, is a big area of sky if you were out there under it lolol. So perspective is important to understanding these images. Hold your thumb out at an arms length toward the horizon. Your thumb would cover this entire frame. Postage stamp sized at arm’s length.
Skies banded are best. Or something close to best. I’m all about color, cloud and landscape gradients. I chase them incessantly. Both in the real world and in my dreams. The perfect banded sunset would be a bucket list item. The term perfect of course is up for debate.
You couldn’t look at this for more than a glance. The mirrorless cameras looks well into the bright Not as well into the dark without a time exposure. I think the same is true of the human mind.🤔
Our eyes however aren’t good at the really dark or really bright either. They are generalists sensors we use to deal with most of the events in our world. Apparently there was no survival benefit in our developmental past to look directly at the sun. This is why we invented hats with brims and sunglasses. Now why we don’t have night vision like canids or feline is a good question. In a weapons race, humans gave up an edge there to be functional generalists. 📷
Those of us that see images in clouds might pay attention to this wonderful western Sunset. A lamb is passing under the “Eye of Sauron” sunset. Wyotana (both states are in the photo) has some very impressive sky shows. I work over 400 of them a year and have for several years now. Having seen many of them gives me an interesting perspective that few having on terminator crossings. (Look it up on Google if you don’t know).
The terminator moves over us at 1000 mph twice per day. (The world is 24,960 miles in circumference) It takes 24 hours for one full rotation. That’s roughly 1000 mph that we are traveling in a fairly tight circle of 6917 miles in diameter. Traveling so fast in a circle it’s amazing we don’t fly off this big ball. There has to be SOME outward force eh? lolol.
This is a view west across the Little Powder River Valley from up on the west side of the Pass to Rockypoint Wyoming on Trail Creek Road. It’s 40 miles to the mountain ridges in the distance. There is a lot to be said for gaining elevation. This is about 10 miles from my homestead and roughly 3 miles south of Montana where I stand.
It’s amazing how the sky at the top can still be blue with the alpenglow popping out in the lower atmosphere. The light bathing those high clouds is still blue and unfiltered by the low/thick atmosphere. IT’s a classic Rule of thirds color ladder too lol. Laid out like a tic tac toe game. Just super-impose the game over the image to see what I mean. 📸
I like to end most days with a photo of a sunset. This is from about 10 days before the image actually publishes on line. I am currently that far ahead in setting up my post. I hope you enjoy the evening. Be safe all.
Well if you see figures/shapes/forms in clouds, this image is fodder for your imagination. I’ve got several anthropomorphic figures floating around in my head from this image. I saw it at the time and thought it worthy of your time. Primarily I can imagine a woman on her elbows crawling but you might go with a lamb or some other figure. Whats nifty about this tendency is that no one really constructs the same vision inside their head. The next person is always going to see something different. The snake eye in the upper right just caught my eye too. Maybe it’s a rabbit: lolol.
This is a Photo taken across the 40 miles of the Little Powder River Valley from Wyoming into Montana. I’m sitting on the west side of the pass on Trail Creek Road in Wyoming. The border is 4 miles to my right.
What a long afternoon of photography this day ended with. Near the end of this timeline, I had been out for 3 hours following a Mesocyclone across the landscape. No rainbows this day though. Only lightning and serious weather to deal with to our south. The sun stayed away till the end.
Location: The Pass on Trail Creek Road To Rockypoint Wyoming USA.
Finding this landscape was a long ride. Getting up these ridges can be a chore, other places you can drive right up. It’s all about the perspective of the height of the hill. The 40+ miles wide Little Powder River valley is off in the distance. The Wyoming / Montana border is between myself and the sun at the moment. Both states being in the photo. The Wyotana area has it’s own character with a mixing of the two state cultures. No difference across the line.
The land is big and unpopulated here. An average of a little over 1 person a square mile I believe is about right. I seldom see lights other than car lights across a valley this wide. Pole lights are few and far in between. I thought the reflective lakes were a nice touch of mother nature to throw into this. Those are both spring fed artesian lakes. My ranch mostly covers the ridge right of the right lake. This location is about 300 feet higher than my ranch’s average altitude. I have a hill that is 50 feet lower than this spot but the view is entirely different as you might suspect lol.
I thought I’d end the day with an end of the day image. This was just about the last image I took that timeline. That was the end of a 3 hour photo session on the backroads of Wyotana.
I love using natural materials to filter out the glare from a setting sun such that the background colors appear. Between lens reflections and flares, the glare makes for a harsh photographic environment. Resultant in umber colored images unlike this blue sky to yellow transition. When I utilize something like this tree trunk to block, completely hide the sun, a different world emerges from the light overload. Almost nothing can look at the sun unfiltered. Modern Large sensor cameras do pretty well (fairly high end mirrorless NOT DSLR cameras) at not melting a spot in the sensor pointing into the nuclear furnace.
Chasing Gradients of color hue or saturation is a worthy use of my limited hands on camera time I feel. The yellow / golden light surviving the trip through the lower atmosphere making it to my photon capture device is dutifully recorded digitally. What ever software algorithm the camera settings impart to record the scene as a series of Ones and Zeros (I0III000I00)Billions of numbers long. It is my job to bring the digital file out of the camera and bring it into the digital darkroom.
It is my choice to finish them as I remember them. Everybody that actually is a photorealist must process the photo in some way or another. Cameras are terrible at getting it right. First of all I intentionally expose ONLY the highlights correctly. That way you can actually see detail in them. They are not all blown out as if you try to get dark detail. Blown out is lost information and bad photography.
Then you use the tools in a program like Photoshop™ or Lightroom™ to bring the dark areas back to reality. This process expands the dynamic range of the image. I brought the green out of the tree from pitch black. It’s a little thing but it’s exactly what Ansel Adams did with his contrasts and differential exposures. He did his in the chemical dark room and this would have taken him months to do this in black and white. Let alone the color thing. Technology has advanced a LOT in this field over the last century.
Spanning across the Montana / Wyoming border, this Wall Cloud was prominent that late afternoon. This is a classic weather phenomena wrapping around under a 60 mile across Mesocyclone. Huge but spinning like a lumbering huge top. This is the center of the storm with this cloud wrapped around in a pretty tight circle maybe 20 miles wide. Generally the weather around these wall clouds is not the best. Everything above it is serious business but this one was still growing. Tornados come out of these things but the hail is the most dangerous part of the whole shebang. Lightning of course too… sometimes dry lightning…. It continued to grow. Later to cause havoc over in Carter County Montana. Flash flooding with this one. We didn’t get much out of this, a few drops at best.
Not getting rain from one of these storms is not necessarily a terrible thing. It’s a clear case of be careful what you ask for…. I’ve seen 4 inches fall in 45 minutes under one of these that stalled over our place. We also just recently enjoyed up to 3 inch hail for 30 minutes as that storms forward momentum dropped to nothing. Low to mid 6 digits worth of damage this month. They stall but continues to pour cats, dogs, buckets, fish or cometary debris if the storm is big enough lolol. Or it might just hail in one place for an hour. Beating everything and anything not sheltered there senseless. I’m truly amazed finding no dead animals after that big hail storm. Baseballs of ice falling from these can really ruin your sense of well being. Or for that fact, your well being…☹️