A big Buck perfectly centered in front of a huge veiled sun provides an amazing visual image… Perfect for your wall.
Along that line of thinking… how about a silhouette theme for your wall? … Here an ALMOST silhouette (highlights on the hair) against the sun is a dramatic acquisition from one evening.
I actually had to maneuver over a mile to capture this moment.. I saw the deer on the other side of the ridge and realized the opportunity. Again topography, time of day and situational awareness prevailed. Circling around him without raising the worry level of the jumpy ungulate was paramount. Fortunately for me (an you) he didn’t really get concerned of my behavior which resembled hunting to me.. Hunting is sort of what I do when I pursue such images… Many similar skills are involved in the searching for such captures.
Driving the backcountry I see many images but not all of them are straight forward just point and click lol. Without the Smoke Pall totally filtering all but the brightest longest wavelength colors. The sun was ALMOST naked eye viewing here which made the grass highlight possible. Halo’s in the grass around the sun are hard to catch when they are not BLOWN out by overexposure.
Normally the glaring intensity of the setting sun will over power the cameras sensor leaving hard colored edges around the sun, unlike this smooth gradient/transition. I really like smooth gradients in my images, if you see steps in my color ramps, either it was really like that or I screwed up something lol.
The color is true to the sky I was looking at through the camera. Most of the sky was smoke grey. This is a very small area of the sky through this telephoto lens. This image covers an area the size of a postage stamp at arms length. This was hundreds of yards away.
The thickness of the smoke of late has been troublesome. Animals and Humans alike suffer from the choking irritant. As I type this, the residents of Jordan Montana can return to their home. One of many fires ongoing in the area was ready to run over the town. The 50 mph winds and low humidities made for fire storm grassland conditions. One of the few redeeming results of a hot forest or grass fire is the color in the sky down wind. I’ve seen some smoke/light phenomena this week I’ve never experienced before.
The Blue Sky of up high fame is positionally just right to be in relatively unfiltered light. All the clouds below are SATURATED with the reddish / brown color I call “Burnt Umber”. A filtered window to the sun off frame to the left let in enough light to reflect off “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill who appropriately was showing off his shiny surfaces. A matter of pride in a windmill. His older brother “Re Pete” lives about 3 miles further into the backcountry. Not as shiny, the 80 year old wind engine is. It was DEAD CALM or I would have captured that sail a spinning.
This night’s air quality wasn’t as bad as some lately. The cloud deck was a good projector screen for the smoke filtered light that night. This is of course a close / far perspective with the sky being the far part. Both in focus. Easy with a cell phone, tough with a manual camera. I was moving along the trail by this veritable legend in his own mind wind engine. I have no control over his actions but I saw the glint(s) off the side, stopped, backed up and composed the shot. Click. He was so becalmed, I think it was sort of a windmill nap. So I finally snuck up on “Sneaky Pete”… It has taken years….. Proof there are periods of no wind up here ……
A smokey rain bow for sure but I have more captures from this timeline of interest to be posted shortly.
I start this narrative by saying this is a VERY WIDE image. It exceeds 90 degrees wide or 1/4 of the sky. The Sun is EXACTLY behind me along with a whole forest worth of smoke from the west coast. The sunlight at this late daylight hour traveling through hundreds of miles of haze with particulates. From September of 2020, many local’s took photos of this rainbow. I was on an ATV at the time. “Clever Girl” was tied up to a trailer. I had just returned home from town on a trip to get poultry feed for my small paddling of domestic ducks and clutch of chickens. IT was raining, I was on an ATV (with a roof but no doors/windows). A box -o-cameras on the seat. Just a cotton jacket.
Having just come home from town, I had taken a shower. Upon a quick dress in fresh ranch clothes, I looked out the window, grabbed my gear and the first vehicle available to me. Fortunately I didn’t take much more of a shower nor did my gear. The storm had just passed so as to leave me mostly high and dry.
This double rainbow is likely the last I will see this year. Images of bright doubles are usually colorcast. Only the latest day rainbows are this wide as you are seeing almost 1/2 of the entire rainbow. Remember that from the viewpoint of an airplane a few thousand feet up.. a rainbow is a complete circle. Earlier in the day, you only get a small section of the whole circle. As the sun sets, the circle is HUGE. This was HUGE. Positioned here across the Montana / Wyoming border with the left leg being in Montana, the right in Wyoming.
Done without a neutral density filter in front of the camera. Almost a silly unlikely capture. It is a rare image from my equipment that has very few issues with the silhouette against the sun. The smoke in the atmosphere obviously has some attenuating aspect on the amount of light passing through. Normally the camera is on the edge of the envelope doing this. All the normally insurmountable technical issues were overcome to get this one.
The big lemon colored sun is an easy capture in and of itself. Getting something terrestrial in front of it without large red rims around objects (diffraction artifacts). Washing them out is typical. I have pointed a camera at the naked sun with trees in front a few times (thousands) before and have never gotten this quality out of the composition. Sharpest edges ever in this type of composition lol. Again, only a smoke attenuated sun will do when you need a celestial object for a “sitting”. Of course I lost 1/2 of the light by letting it set 1/2 way lolol. High fstop (the softness) for deep focus, fast shutter in the 1/6000th range, LOW ISO in the 100 range and a lot of atmospheric filtering.
I’m always trying to work sunset at less than f22 if possible. I suspect this is f60 ish. A tiny pin hole in the aperture. It’s a 1200 mm lens with a very high resolution camera (170 meg raw+ .jpg) which allows me to come up this close without much of a crop. There is NO substitute for high resolution and high dynamic range in a camera.
I’m always riding parallel ridges working the shadow line. I see some amazing silhouettes daily. The peculiar red light affiliated with forest fire smoke is characteristic. The low ground effect slowly giving way from yellow tinted clouds to white tinges on the clouds straight up. This is sort of a gradient with a broken projector screen only reflecting parts and pieces of the smooth transitions of color. If you see the “All Seeing Eye of Provenance” that the sun creates here, consider yourself in good company. You Masons out there should pick that right up on this lol. All it needs is a triangle around it.
The smokey sunsets of late have been a boom for me with orange color. If you’ve seen the orange skies making national news a week back, There have been some afternoons around here where it was indeed VERY orange. The crowd in the big west coast cities just aren’t used to it so it’s news there. Being under smoke, one experiences very subdued lighting. A LOT of ranchers are discovering the weakness in solar voltaic water pumps with this sky. Also the renewable crowd in California are figuring that out as well. If a smoke Pall covers the sky, solar panels won’t run much. I’ve had a 4000 watt solar array feeding my electric “cloud” and sending back to grid for 20 years. I bought my first solar 30 years ago. Some of that is still running but not as well under smokey skies.
These close / far perspectives are always a challenge to me. I have to put myself into a mouses mind and imagine the sheer size of human machinations. This Antique steel wheel has been standing here for many decades. It overlooks a huge vista all around it. Ridge top locations allow for such luxuries. It pays for it’s view with the extreme exposure to the elements. The metal parts of this old farm machinery will be here hundreds of years. That is assuming it isn’t recycled in some dystopian future society.
This fairly “clear of smoke” sunset has been a member of a rare population of late. As I type this Massive fires are burning along the west coast. I can only hope that wet or snowy weather comes quickly to the west this year. It’s likely the only thing that will stop those fires. 125 years of not enough controlled burns apparently has found the dead fall fuel load too high in many locations. I’m glad to see the relatively smoke free skies like tonight. I of course was taking a few photos of the setting sun.
The 22nd. of September (Equinox) is coming in a few days from this post. I will be working east / west perspectives with the sun aligning up with all sorts of things. Twice a year I get to do that. Once this month I get pretty clear skies.
Best wishes to all the folks under threat from the fires.
Perspective Snag Sunset is a wonderful image caught on a high ridge.
When I see high contrast scenes I hunker down and try to bring it in. High F-stop diffractions and silhouettes dominate the scene on a remote ridge line. The backcountry is full of an infinite number of little zen like scenes at any one time. I find that all I have to do is be there and mother nature will provide. Smoke in the atmosphere is a wonderful thing for photography.
I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines.
Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. If your buying gear soon…. Mirrorless Cameras: I’m not blind now because I look through the a Mirrorless cameras eyepiece which has a video screen behind the glass so no direct path of light to blind you. Newer mirrorless cameras do this video thing. Older Designed DSLR’s don’t show you your image until AFTER YOU CLICK. Mirrorless Cameras show you your settings changes live on screen and you get what you see when you click not after.
If your shopping for cameras, I would tell you to buy mirrorless. Particularly if you work outside with cameras. Studio it’s not critical either way. Don’t look into the sun with a DSLR camera.
Corriente’ Cattle have been on the ranch since 2012. We have Black Angus too but these guys are much more photogenic. Something about the horns that gives them a western look.
Fully covered skies where I catch any animal that I can silhouette are automatically better by their inclusion. I would indicate that everybody was looking at this sunset that evening. I’m sure that even the glutton on the right took a few seconds between chews to enjoy this vision. It was hard not to notice this sky show. It stands out in all that I have seen as pretty impressive….
This can only happen during a totally overcast evening with thin / spotty enough clouds to allow the light to get under the canopy. A cool night, this particular evening was very moist with alpenglow rife to provide this colorcast to the show.
Bear in mind that this is a long range telephoto shot so the area of the sky wasn’t as big as this perspective would have you believe lol. Telephotos crush perspective and you never know how big an area of sky you are seeing. This frame covers an area of sky about the size of a postage stamp at arms length at the horizon. It’s a mind bender I think. This was a good night for images as this held on for 10 minutes anyway. That gave me plenty of time to get around… Click …
I’m sure your all tired of “Smokey Sunsets / Sunrises by now. I sure as heck am. Except for the amazing sky thing, this is getting old. Snow is coming to the high country of Wyoming and Montana as I type… About a week before this published. Still early September for that storm. It hopefully will shut down a few fires to clear up the air a little. Some individuals with lung ailments are not enjoying this month much….
If there were snow storms incoming I’d be taking photos of it as long as there is light. I have to admit that I’ve seen phenomena that were new to me through the smoke palls. This particular image is a front moving from right to left with the smokey air to the right. The Clear air is to the left. The bank of clouds blocking the sun are forming in advance of the air mass shadowing the sun and providing a projector screen to show the light shafts above.
IT was actually pretty bright out. Cameras have trouble with dark detail when looking into very bright light. Sometimes I can tease out that landscape. This capture didn’t have enough data there to deal with in the digital darkroom. Creating artifacts is not my job… I could actually see landscape detail averting my eyes away from the sun. I was playing the same game with my eyes as was the camera. Dynamic Range of your eyes is better than your camera by the way. Your a better generalist than the camera is. That camera can looking into the furnace though with out any discernable repercussions. Not so much with your eyes lol.
This subdued sunset brought to you by the soot in the air contributed by hundreds of western wildfires. Hopefully you’ve been off grid and out of the way of these plumes. Such a Pall changes not only the air quality but the amount of solar radiation that makes it to the surface.
This image is my best try to get the scene exactly as I remembered it. The wedge of smoke from various Montana fires were moving this way. The cloud front was forming in advance of the smoke pall with the smoke moving with the front. I have seen this develop before and got the heck up the hill well over an hour before sunset. I figures that as the sun dove behind that jagged bottomed cloud, that shadow would get projected in the smoke below. The result is a fan of crepuscular rays radiating outward away from the sun well above the cloud deck. This is a fairly expansive display. Taken through a very wide lens at 24mm .
This is the second nice crepuscular display I have seen from this years smoke/brown season. They are somewhat predicatable to me but to get the ducks to actually line up is an entirely different matter lol. This would be a nice candidate for a mirror/mirror ART treatment I’m thinking… I’ll have to make a note to reflect this back on itself. I bet a nice face will appear magically.
The smoke that evening was intense. The air conditioning in the truck barely moderated the sneezing I enjoy in such air. Going out into this for long is a health risk certainly. There are all sorts of negative effects from enjoying the air as this. A good allergenic episode is my typical response. I know others that are put out of action by this kind of Pall. This kind of pollution can push some individuals over that cliff too. My advice is to stay inside if you can. As I type this the thermometer is approaching 100 degrees. I hope the animals find relief from this. They can’t come in as much as I’d like it for a while. Then there is the clean up thing….
The brown landscape color is accurate to the scene. The lowermost darkest ridge is 3 miles, next is 10 miles. The low ridge past that is 13 miles. Finally the 4th layer is 35 miles out with the sun hanging around 8 and 1/3rd light minutes out. This is as thick as it gets without blotting out the sun. I COULD have easily watched this outside of the camera with my naked eye. I don’t however suggest doing that. Always use appropriate eye protection. OK, maybe a very quick glance at this level of illumination.
Usually the Sun is FAR too bright to expose both landscape and it’s surface properly. Here because the sun has been smoke filtered a LOT it is possible to resolve the ridges. Normally hidden in the glare. The smoke acts like a theatrical gel over a spotlight. It allows only the longest wavelengths of light through.
Probably the last serious rainbow of the 2020 was this late “Golden Hour” spectral display a few weeks ago as this posts. The Sun over my shoulder was HEAVILY Smoke Pall filtered giving the marked color cast displayed here. The total lack of blue light being obvious in the refracted spectrum. All of that was absorbed by the smoke. Missing the blue/indio components gives a very odd feeling to the scene live real time. I’ve said before it reminds me of the solar eclipse in 2017 that went through the area. This is certainly one of the more extreme rainbows I’ve ever seen. There will be more of this event as it flows through my workstation.
This capture of course is a long telephoto image right into the left leg of a very tall rainbow. Late day rainbows are closer to a perfect 1/2 of a circle. From the air rainbows are circles with your shadow in the center. On the ground though, your limited to half of the circle at most. But as such sunset rainbows are relatively HUGE compared to mid to afternoon rainbows. Mid-day rainbows are wide but not tall. This one was wide AND tall. This was right at the height of the smoke generation from the west coast fires as seen here almost exactly on the border of Wyoming / Montana. This rainbow’s leg itself spans the actual borderline from my perspective lol. Exactly 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator it’s marks the spot.
The depth of the layer of smoke that gave me this apocalyptic image was early in the timeline that night. Keep this image in mind when I post an image of that sun setting into that mist. Here the sun is up high enough that the stepped gradient (natural not done in the digital darkroom). . Many stepped gradients from photographers are artifacts from improper digital darkroom technique. This is totally natural.
I don’t believe I have ever seen conditions worse than this. All sorts of backcountry outdoor activities are not occurring. Hard to cut wood when you can’t breath. Hard to do construction too. Some folks go about 70 percent effective under atmosphere such as this. Looks like fog, it’s choking, wood smelling smoke. 2020 is sure a mulligan year. Need to throw the ball out into the fairway and re-take the shot.
Of course, you couldn’t look into this to see it without a quality mirrorless camera. Just glancing at such a scene can do damage. I only look at scenes like this through my gear. Said camera moderates the intensity.
Disclaimer: I saw this scene on a live video screen within the view finder. I can adjust my settings real time accordingly. There is no direct light path to your eye in a mirrorless camera. DSLR cameras can blind you doing this kind of work so don’t. 🙂 Some cheaper small sensor cameras can’t take this either and doing it wrong is likely to burn your cameras sensor chip. With the full frame Sony A7 Series) I’ve taken thousands of directly into the sun images. No damage to your gear if you do it correctly. Getting your exposures too dark before you point at the sun is a good idea. Use highest f-stop and low ISO for this certainly. 1/3000th or so.
This Fawn Mule Deer is looking for those spots. Must have lost them somewhere around there. It’s been walking around with it’s head down for 10 minutes. Must be looking for something…..
Being 4-5 months old now grazing with it’s twin and Mother up High on a ridge line I call Rattlesnake Ridge. You’ve been seeing images of these guys all summer. I run into them randomly out on the ranch land during my journeys.
Love the lighting for this shot. (note the blur before and blur after. (f11 with a long telephoto due to the lower smoke filtered light levels). This clearly shows what “depth of field” is. Focus in the center, blur on either side of the focal zone. You have to think in 3-D for this work most of the time. The forest fire smoke is color casting the red here.
This fawn has not been named since it’s ears are perfect without notches. I’ll loose track of it by spring. Hopefully she will hang with her sister who has a very identifiable notch in her ear. Guilt by association at that point. I’ll wait until next spring to name this one. They change so much as they grow. Their mother is also easy to ID with her ears. Mule deer have HUGE ears. Much more so than Whitetail.
Re: Rattlesnake Ridge: Yes it is a sinuous ridge looking from above. My reason for the name is: apparently the ranches owner back in the 70’s, dynamited a rattle snake den here. Or so the story goes. Dynamite was a LOT easier to get back then. Years ago I heard a skuttlebutt rumor of an old box of dynamite sitting around on some fictional surrounding ranch. I’ve dealt with a lot of explosives over the last 10 years in my day job. I’d certainly rather not have to deal with 50 year old sticks of H.E. Probably a puddle of liquid nitro on the bottom of the box lol. I’m sure it’s a rumor… I’ll hear about it if true… (in the distant boom lolol). We really don’t have a lot of rattlers though which has been a good thing I believe.
When I see these big Monsters on the horizon, heading up to the ridge tops is my destination. I have fairly long views from there. From my house, I might see about 1/2 of this from behind the ridge I stand hon. This prairie Mesocyclone was slowly rotating about 30 miles to our north and east. A Mesocyclone is a Mature BIG thunderstorm. They are HUGE.
I’m in Wyoming for this looking into Montana. This storm was worrying folks along the South Dakota / Wyoming / Montana triple state line. If effected all three states as it moved to the south east during it’s lifetime. I see about 15 of these big storms a summer. I will work all of them with a box-o-cameras given the opportunities lol. They are wonderful ever changing photographic subject that move very slowly. (unless your under them lol).
I’ve always considered Mammatus clouds as evidence that the storm is being deprived. Without daylight heating, the storms cease growing. Thusly it is slowly collapsing. Not clearly defined is the exact causation of mammatus clouds. “When Moist air drops into dry air below.”… Essentially they are upside down clouds similar to a cloud top billowing. Similar to the growing tower of a thunderstorm before the “Anvil” forms from the top of the storm traveling faster than the bottom. The bottom has friction with the ground where as the top not so much.
“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.