“Sneaky Pete” the windmill has a commanding view most nights. Those evenings where the weather window to the BigHorn Mountain Range are open to my lenses. The latest part of the Golden Hour has the best light in my experience. The low angle of the sun accentuates the light by filtering the rays through the suspended ice in the atmosphere. The smooth yellow (top) to orange (bottom) gradients of Alpenglow colorcast everything highlighting reflective surfaces and ridge tops with the right angle.
There was no wind that night. The Sail of the windmill moved not for my camera. No shutter speed tricks would have blurred it’s lack of motion. We do get occasionally dead calm air. During air conditions as this, I tend to get suppressed rifles out. My activity is to Shoot and listen to the bullet going supersonic across it’s entire arc of travel. Whoooooooooosssssssssssssh Twack…. Hearing the bullet Twack it’s final backstop 1000 yards out. You can hear your heart beat if your no where near herds of cattle. Then you hear a lot of cow calls, moos, and bawls by calfs.
The 130 miles to the BigHorn Mountains are visible due to my homesteads position high on a ridge (pass between drainages). I am topographically elevated as high as the far ridge is above the Little Powder River Valley below it. I have a straight shot right to the core of the BigHorns. 13000 foot peaks are part of the Backbone of the Rocky Mountains here in America. They used to be a lot taller. The Powder River Basin at my feet used to be a lot deeper in the distant geologic past. More like the Tetons but bigger. Then the basin filled up with debris from the mountains and the elevations are balancing out a bit.
The hundred year old trees and the nearly 100 year old windmill share the scene with us here. There was a time when I would take a light level reading spin some dials, maybe look up a setting on a chart using the film speed I chose for the event. It was the wild wild west and very expensive to take a photo. Then you could have to either print them yourself or on film. I got exposed to digital image processing/ printing seriously in 1989. Photoshop version 1 and Quark Express. I had opened a full prepress service bureau serving other graphic artists in Jackson Hole by 1993. It was film first then a laser drum scanner to
Complications: Translated through my lens to your computer by a host of technological innovations. Converting light photons to electrons in the camera. Those electrons recorded as a series of 1’s and 0’s. Those series are carefully manipulated inside the camera to start into something resembling a really huge number. Properly interpreted and modified by a host of algorithms under my control, that number is changes slightly to suit my sense of finish. From there, the computer file (image) is converted by a lossy compression scheme to .jpg. Then Facebook messes with it further resizing it to suit themselves.
Then and only then does the computer file that was generated by the photons from the sun hit your monitor. Your screen converts that big number from the electron stream back to photons for your eyes to receive.
So see! It’s a really simple process to go from my lens to your eyes.. 😜 😜
Getting into position on parallel ridges is certainly a challenge early in the morning. In the evening as this, it’s relatively easy to get there. It’s finding your way back that is the challenge. Role reversal almost across the board. As soon as the sun sets behind that ridge, the whole valley I have to travel into is into dusk and darker environments. Reversing the order of events between a sunset and a sunrise seems to be a universal constant with a few contrarian natural occurrences about.
Sunrise/Sunset. (classical reference intended). For one we rise, the other we set to bed . In a similar vein, it’s hard to get there in the morning and hard to get back at night. “En revanche mon ami”. Unlike humans, the horizon rises at night. However, if you look, in the morning the horizon drops downward in the morning. The Full Moon sets in the morning and rises at night. A lot of events seem to happen right at those two times. It must be a coincidence, or perhaps an ancient biological dependance on the cycle. Just a few more gears driving the wheel of life.
The coming of the light and the departure. It is the appreciation of the process that adds so much to the overall experience I enjoy with this work. I use the term “Terminator Crossing” to describe both sunrise and sunset in one word. If you have never heard of “Terminator” except in connection with “the future is not set” and Arnold, time to google Terminator. You see the Terminator on the moon all the time.
Good Monday Morning to you all from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. I awoke today to pea soup thick fog blanketing the area which of course was dewey spider web hunting time. Did that a while this AM. I’ll take moisture any way I can get it. We might be getting some rain over the next few days if we are lucky (this was written June 29th). This week we are actively working on our fire truck so my posts this week are between tasks.
To this image. I am always trying to have a couple of “hero’s” in an image. A sunset by itself is beautiful in it’s simplicity. A starburst in it’s own radial existence is the wheel (hero 1). Then there is the lens pinhole artifactual starburst (hero 2). In my experience, the most complex sunsets are more eye appealing generally speaking. In and by themselves.. Add some depth though…. I see many opportunities in any one scene. Certainly this Antique Deering Seeder long ago abandoned became a favorite foreground object of mine to work with these big Wyotana sunsets. It has had a view to die for decades on this remote ridge. I love Close/Far perspectives and setting them up👀 📷
This might be straight forward with an infinite focus cell phone. Hard for me to say as I don’t use them as cameras much Not so easy with a manual mode DSLR or Mirrorless Camera. The camera made the star around the sun. The High F-stop setting (as high as the camera would go) led to that. It’s an artifact produced by the optics and a regular “star” of my close far perspectives. Remember that F-stop is a double edged sword. You turn it up, you get really a thick layer of focal sharpness from close to far. Plus a sun star…But you loose a LOT of light turning UP the F-stop. You have to compensate for that with the other two settings (shutter speed and ISO/camera sensitivity). Focusing this close is knowing where to set your camera.
Often I climb a ridge only to be clouded out of a sunset. To be honest, I was worried about this particular night’s cloud cover shutting me down. Just a thin band at altitude but below it snuck out a full blown solar spotlight. I call these sun slits where at the last second, the clouds part enough for our furnace to shine though.
The cluster of buildings is the Homestead of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. I don’t publish too many photos of the place but it’s a good scale to the breadth of this wide angle image. The largest white roof at the rear of the compound is about the size of a regulation foot ball field for scale.
The difference between an enormously bright sun and a now shadowed landscape is tremendous. The dynamic range necessary to see the extremes exceed the human eyes ability. Looking into the sun would cause you to avert your gaze. But you could probably see the landscape around it if you don’t stare directly at the sun. Cameras see the world entirely differently and not as well as the human eye. They can see into the bright better than our eyes can. They can see into the dark better than our eyes can. WHere they eyes win is being able to see both at the same time. Cameras don’t have the dynamic range the human eye has. Technology is catching up with us though. It won’t be long until the cameras are better. At least the ones I can afford to by now can’t do it.
Five months ago I saw this scene up on the high ridges overlooking the Little Powder River Valley. The hard part about this kind of image is to get up that ridge without leaving your rig up there until spring. Some drift was likely to stop progress as much as the ice going up the steep two track roads. This tree is 400 feet higher than my homestead about a mile away. The paths there are determined by the drifts.
I thought the contrast of a beautful snowy sunset versus the hot humid dry summer would be therapeutic. At the time it seems like you want summer…just never happy are we 😜🤘
Winter sunset around 4:30PM instead of the 9 (ish) PM sunset now in the summer as this posts. The 5 AM Summer sunrise comes all too soon for this photographer in the mid-summer when this posts. Summer has trouble competing with the amount of ice in the air to generate BIG sunsets like this. I have to admit that in my experience and personal choice, winter sunsets are better than summer🤔 👀 ❤️
Close / Far Perspectives as this where a telephoto is used to CRUSH the distance between the camera and the close object with the far object more or less uneffected by the magnification. . I’m a good 300 yards back from that foreground lone tree. I’ve said it before that with this kind of photography (close/far), high F-stop and distance from your foreground object is necessary.
Right into the sun Captures with layers of landscape are actually one of my favorite images. I’m not sure how many of these I’ve taken. Likely they certainly number in the hundreds. Probably only 50 or so have been finished and published from my archives of photos that need to be finished (extensive). I think it’s a 70’s thing of mine… Could be just me
I prefer to do photography without additional “filters” in front of my lens. Pointing such right into the sun usually gives me ghosts of the sun I can’t fix in the digital darkroom. If your camera doesn’t have the dynamic range the mirrorless Sony Alpha 7 versions I used for this, you will have to use Neutral Density screw on glass filters in front of your lens. Those will act like sunglasses to your camera so it can actually see what’s going on. Please don’t try to do this with a DSLR style camera. They have direct light paths to your eye and blinding has happened. The Sony Alphas are a mirrorless design that is entirely a video in the eyepiece. No direct light path to blind you.
The trick on all of these is to not overexpose the sun but yet have enough detail in the shadows to bring out the horizons. It’s a knife / razors edge of tweeking exposure back and forth. You could also adjust f-stop since it’s not as critical here but is useful for eliminating light at high settings. Pointing a camera at the sun is an exercise in turning down the camera to light a LOT before you point it at the sun (hint). Don’t burn a spot in your cameras digital sensor…. . 👀 📸
I work 5 different cameras for a veiled sunset of a complex sky. This capture taken JUST at the moment when the horizon moved up to support all that weight of our furnace. I’ve never personally picked up a stove that was light but this one sets the standard for mass. It’s mass is 2 x 10 followed by 30 zeros kilograms. It Emits 2.86 x ten followed by 26 zeros of watts in all directions. It is for all intents and purposes our furnace. Without a furnace, our house would be very cold indeed.
All objects from dust to planets in the vicinity of the sun revolve around it. We are tilted about 23.5 degrees to the “Ecliptic” of the solar system (There is your google search word for the day). Controlled by the amount of light we receive, our seasons vary. All controlled by that tilt. It controls the number of hours a day of sun which has a marked effect on warmth received and retained by our environments. Remember that the sun has NO environment. It has ALL environments. So generally anyone talking about “Earths Environment” is full of poo to start their argument. Just saying.
The Summer Solstice here at 45 degrees north latitude exactly 1/2 way between the equator and the north pole. If you want to really get into a google subject, search “equi-umbra” sometime and grasp all the iterations. It’s a good 20 minute absorbing science read lol. Enjoy that. I did. 😜 Summer Solstice marks the day the sun starts to set further south each day. So turns the wheel.
This is the second image from this timeline I am publishing. Each has it’s own merits. I worked this wonderful scene moving around for the different compositions that are hiding from us. Our perspective is “where we are”. The goal of photography is to see past where we are actively moving to the “optimal” perspective possible for the scene at hand. There are an infinite number of options available here only limited by the topography I’m positioned on. There have been so many times I wish for a ladder of just a few feet to change the angle ever so slightly. This is of course why I drive along parallel ridges to work terminator crossings. I can move up and down the opposite ridge as it is my metaphorical ladder.
Terminator: This is the dividing line between night and day as seen from outer space. It’s a good way for me to describe EITHER sunrise or sunset to you if you understand what it is. That visible shadow/light line moves around a globe that is 24000 miles around in circumference one time a day. That is, the shadow of night moves in at 1000 miles per hour over us as the sun rises or sets. Likewise sunrise moves over the earth at 1000 miles per hour likewise. Terminator is an interesting google search… You see it on the moon all the time….
I hadn’t been to this particular location for a while, it’s SORT of off the beaten two track. Anyone notice the photobomber? There are no cattle in this pasture yet so lazy me tends to stay out of pastures I have to open and close gates to enter. I’m getting lazy in my old age… 😜 📸
There are deer beds all around this and the nearby trees. This hill is blessed with a good 360 view around it. The deer almost always pick a spot where they can see some area. The grass is crushed down around the shelter. It’s an improvised windbreak and rain shelter. As they say, ANY shelter in a storm.
Trees growing out of boulders, breaking those into smaller pieces are always instructive. How a living thing can exert enough force to split stone? Admittedly freezing and thawing of water is certainly partially responsible for this. I suspect the initial crack the trees allowed the progenitors seed to settle. It germinated of course. The crack began by freezing water. That tiny little seed sprouted and continued the hundred year long process breaking rocks into smaller ones.
Boulders populate the hill top around the trees. The hill top itself owes it’s existence to the resistance to erosion by those same chunky sandstone boulders. Being harder than the sandy rock that used to surround them, they now protect the sand under them from washing away. Mostly the entire hill is here because it was more resistant to erosion than the rocks that once filled the surrounding valleys. Geology is full of absolutes like this. One conclusion has to lead to the other. Sand from the Cretaceous Dinosaur fossil bearing bedrock forms the soil horizons here. The Rivers that carried the sands sorted the clasts very effectively into a mostly uniform 3 dimensional fabrics of lens shaped sandstone/siltstone/mudstone beds in a 700 foot thick formation called the “Hell Creek/Lance”. I’m t standing on that formation at the moment. There are dinosaur fossils under my feet. 👀 ⚒ .
I’m loving the lighting and contrasts here. Full Screen is a must.
At the top of a drainage, standing on the top of a pass, any water that runs off after falling here will go through 5 rivers to reach the Gulf of Mexico. In Wyoming and Montana are located the head waters of many a watershed. The strip roughly 10 miles shared between both states… Wyotana of course does not exists at a place in time and space. It is a mystical place of undetermined dimensionality along the 45th parallel 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator. I’ve seen many things that amaze me and quite often remarkably. Having lived here for only 2 decades I have certainly missed a lot and am not as good a rancher as I could have been. Spending anytime up here teaches you respect for the land and for others that endure the hardships here.
This land imaged above is barren of human intervention. Only a few barbed wire fences keep the perimeter on pastures several square miles in size for herds of thousands of cattle. There are by far way more cattle in this land than there are people. Locally we are around 1 person per square mile density… I last heard 125 people were in our voting precinct covering 256 square miles of land. There are a few non-voters under 18 living about but not a lot. We are a community with a lot of elbow room as you can see by our back yards. Closest neighbor is 3 miles+.
Clouds hundreds of miles away accentuate and attenuated this image filtering the light before it reaches my lens.. Various levels of smoke from burning forests, dust and moisutre give western photographers opportunities. I am not ashamed to take advantage of it though my heart goes out to those that the fires impact.
I’ve physically fought my share of grass fires living surrounded by a giant sea of grass. Fires used to burn here from their start to the first snows putting them out. I’ve seen some tremendous sunsets as a benefit to natures actions cleaning up the dead fall that we have allowed to accumulate to dangerous levels.
I’ve said many times before that I don’t use glass filters in front of my lenses. When shooting directly into the sun, the best filters have leftddfff a ghost of the sun in my images. Offset reflective artifacts are not generally welcome to a photographer that tries really hard to be a photorealist. I will occasionally wander using lens reflections/flares in my work, but not here lol. 📷
Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Windmill and Sun all to line up at the same time while at the same elevation as the sail…..not that regular an occurrence lol. I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the sun is going to rise is a matter of looking it up on google which would be about as far north as the sun gets mid June lol.
Get a compass, a map (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up. I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE it is going to take place though. 😄
This late in the summer, the sun sets about as far north as it ever does. Here the sunset at Summer Solstice, the inclination of our earths axis has slowly turned in relation to the sun. It is now setting a little more south each day until the Winter Solstice. The lower black silhouetted ridge has trees on it. Those are full sized pine trees at 55 miles distant from my lens. The sun is a bit further out…🤔
I find a vantage point that puts me as high as my horizon when that is possible. Knowing most of the trails up on the high hills these days makes my life easier lolol. That is very true of the morning where I have to wind my way around in the dark to get places I’ve never been to before or for a long time. It’s always easier in the evening when I’ve already come that way. This is VERY big country up here. There is 100 square miles area circled by the “loop of maintained road I live on the far side of.
I personally live about 400 feet lower than the ridge I’m standing on’s perspective looking at the far northeastern setting sun. Heck it’s not even setting up north of the arctic circle at 66.5 degrees north at the moment. We have 8 hour nights currently I live VERY close to 45 degrees north. A difference of 21.5 degrees. There are 69 miles per degree of latitude. Just a mere 1300 miles to where the sun never sets to our north from my homestead on the high prairie. But the further north you go during the summer, the shorter the nights get.
Driving toward the Montana / Wyoming border to work a high spot for a veiled sunset. Rapidly developing, light conditions change by the second. I’m trying to get somewhere to photograph the “sunsets” timeline when I saw this developing. From inside my truck on a remote county road at sunset, a meadowlark was enjoying the sunset. Famous for their vocalizations, they are a challenge to just get a photo of in my experience. Lining one up with a veiled sun is a bucket list item. Now if I can only get an American Eagle to do this….. 🤔 😀 📸
In small bird photography, there is a goal of eyebrow close, feather detail photos. Then there is having celestial objects cooperate AND cloud cover just so to let the shape without all the glare into the frame. Being hard to get close to is the game, getting sol to cooperate is just amazingly cool in my world. But then I like to point cameras into the sun. (Disclaimer: Professional Mirrorless Cameras that can take it. No DSLR’s please….
It is very hard to get finished images without a rim around the silhouette of some other color. It’s a diffraction artifact from a high f-stop setting. . This amazing capture has no trace of a color rim. Sharp as heck. I’m still trying to figure that one out. If I do I’ll share it with you. Color rims around objects against bright light is a problem I’ve been trying to solve for years. I have a clue… perhaps… 👀 🤔
Twilight is a time to look around. There is no better spot for this Breeding / Nesting Upland Sandpiper to watch the sunset. Hanging out on a fence brace with a view was a good choice I’m thinking. Topography was such I couldn’t get the larger twilight show behind the grass. I still liked the composition. I’m going to have to get a taller truck though lol.. Time for that 2 inch lift kit perhaps.
I liked the symmetry of the brace with the asymmetry of the angles by the wire versus clouds all interacting. The Peachy Creme Soda color is one of my favorite hues for an Alpenglow pallet choice by mother nature. I never know what she is going to pick but I do know that Alpenglow is one of my favorite sky phenomena. (Google it if you know know what it is).
This was taken in early July with the sky color attributed to ice reflecting the predominate color surviving the sunlights trip through the low atmosphere. Such low angle light is always tweeked by the shorter wavelengths being absorbed during the journey. No or few blues/ greens and indigos make it reflected back to my lens.
Close far perspectives are a challenge in low light. If your trying to do images like this, you need high F-stop setting. That will close off light which makes the other two settings important. Long exposures are your friend. High ISO will get you the photo but it will be grainy. . Manual mode is all about balance.
As the solstice is tomorrow, I thought I’d show you what a Bighorn Mountain sideshow looks like with a far northern sunset. The sun is WAY off to the right of the frame. The landscape ladder here climbing off to the 130 mile distant 13000 foot tall peaks leaves me speechless more times than not. Now this is a very long lens which crushes perspective. The second furthest ridge is 40 miles away from the ridge I’m standing on. My elevation is about the same as the saddle on that second to last ridge. The red layered badlands are only 10 miles distant.
Those red banded layer hills are all Tullock Formation. The rocks exposed on the surface all the way back to the Bighorns have been carried there. A complex process by rivers of the past. These moving eroded by the elements, sediments off the peaks. All running down slope from those world class hills. At one time there was a smooth ramp all the way to the peaks to my feet. It was a smooth slope that huge alluvial fans were deposited off the Bighorns. The middle of those alluvial fan stack are dissected at right angles by the Big Horn, the Powder and the Little Powder Rivers.
The rocks I stand on are older Cretaceous Terrestrial Sandstones with their share of Dinosaurian fossils. (Hell Creek/ Lance Formations) These older sandstones are dipping toward the Bighorn’s Powder River Basin being downwarped with the formation of that regional structure. About a mile off my ranch’s west boundary, the alluvial fans overlapped the Cretaceous River Sands. The dinosaur fossil bearing rocks diving deep off toward the mountains.
You really have to see this full screen to appreciate it. It is dark but that is because the dynamic range required to look into the sun. The Camera relents. It’s inability to replicate what my eye sees is obvious to me. Technology will eventually catch up. The human eye has 5 or more F-stops of Dynamic range than the best camera. IF you blow this image up, you can see lots of detail in the dark. If you looked at the sun at the scene, it would have blinded you the glare was so intense. Cameras seeing details in the dark while looking at other very bright things is why silhouettes are created. The camera is unable to do what the eye does. I point out that the camera is better at looking into the sun than the eye is though 👀😜📸
This timeline was limited to about 15 minutes as this is just a thin slit for the sun to shine through. The cloud deck was otherwise opaque to the sun. It was actually quite beautiful as a stand alone sky show. Always trying to work a scene, I had no way to incorporate the foreground into this scene. I was up too high on the ridges and at a point JUST above the next ridge in front of the camera. No time to move. The cloud deck never lit up from under significantly on this show. That was a trick mother nature held out for a short 8 hours later for dawn the next day. That timeline will make it’s way into my work flow shortly. Stay tuned….
There was a lot of complexity to this evenings sky up here in Wyotana. The wind was indeed blowing hard and spinning ol’ “Sneaky Pete” a good bit. I have no idea how many times those bearings have rotated but it’s millions…. many I suspect. As I type this we had a 43 mph gust and the storms that moved through last week gave us an 84 mph gust on my weather station. I now have my weather reporting station back on line. Do a search for DW1087 for my weather station live here on ranch.
From a technical standpoint, doing this in camera with no Neutral Density filter in front of your lens is rare. The conditions must be JUST right. Anytime I point a camera into the bright sun, I’m mostly turning off the all the light valves. This gives me either crimson or burnt umber colorations. Who am I to argue with the camera. No human eye could stare at this live and work later.
I wanted to blur the windmill sail. A fast shutter speed will freeze it in it’s track and reduce light (less light is good here into the camera). It’s all about balancing these three things. But to blur such a thing, means 1/15th of a second which is VERY LONG in bright light. OVERPOWERING BRIGHT = hard to do right. Balance……3 things…..Shutter and:
Camera Sensitivity to ISO 100. Faster shutter speeds reduce the light coming in too. (you need to)
Leaving F-stop (aperture/iris size) to consider. I want a close far focus with this telephoto so I’m using F-36 (a high setting for a 400 mm lens). Higher the F-stop, = less light BUT deeper focal field. That means the depth of focus will have both the windmill and the distant sky/horizon in focus). Sort of a requirement but not a problem here. I only use 1 of maybe 10 of these I take….. Hard to do.
I watch skies very carefully in the photographic work that I do. I start mentally tuning into an 8:40 PM sunset around 7 PM. Typically I’ll be on some last second of the day ranch chore. Perhaps more commonly, working on a photo in the digital darkroom. Several “go or no go up the hill” decisions are made. All over the course of that last hour. The “Golden Hour” daylight before the sunset. I only had about 10 minutes of late day sun for this capture. I stayed close to the house and never actually left the “infield” perimeter. Rare… So from my “Backyard” of still more of our backyard. 🤔
The remainder or the timeline was darker, this stood out of the pile. The smooth sandstone boulder was moved from the hills nearby. I like to break up my yard a bit. I might get around to planting it some day. It’s dry up there. The last ridge under the sun is 60 miles out from the camera.
Off the the right, leading from our gate “3”, (back gate) travels the county road north into Powder River County Montana. The state line is about 3/4’s of a mile from this buck rail fence I built 15 years ago. The ranch geographically is in both Montana and Wyoming.
Grazing animals I don’t want eating my personal planted landscapes generally stay on the other side of that fence. . You can’t see all the electric wires in this light. Contact with those metallic wires will put you on your butt on contact. It has about 1/2 inch spark gap lolol. Deer don’t challenge it. Plus the inverted V of the fence is too 3 dimensional for them. They can jump HIGH or LONG but not both. It took me a bit of time to build the 260 sections of this buck (ish) rail fence. All by little myself. One have to stay in shape somehow 😀
Location: Backyard of the Homestead at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
TWO Big Storms rumble across the high prairie land of Wyotana. The wedge on the left is closer, smaller and in the partial shadow of another storm between it and the sun. The right storm is really huge and ‘muscular” for your “garden variety” of giant storm moving across the high plains. The close storm is 40 miles out obscuring the Devil’s Tower from my view. The larger storm is well over 100 miles out over in South Dakota across that state line. These storms have energy equal to an atom bomb that they expend over their lifespan.
Closed to me the window to the horizon rising early June 2020 Strawberry Moon. These two monsters spinning like tops in the way being effective a keeping me out. By this point in this 30 mile road trip, I was getting impatient for the extra 1/2 hour it took for the moon to rise over that cloud bank.
In full disclosure, this is two very wide images individually stitched side by side inside of the digital darkroom. A real scene though. It is over 160 degrees wide almost 1/2 of the sky. These were really quite a scene. This is of course, the reason I followed the storms out on the road. Waiting just for this moment. The colors are as I experienced them with lighter / whiter clouds at the top and the “Belt of Venus” sunset light projected onto the storms sides.
The night was a partially cloudy evening with mid-layer patches of stratus clouds. The air was cool but NO wind makes mother nature say “find a pond” to me. When I get lucky, the sun drops below the layer of clouds. Then it can happen that nature provides me with a color pallet that says “take my photo” lolol.. Conveniently a rare windless Wyotana last light of the day moment was spent down by this local pond with a view. I particularly enjoy fully involved skies but sometimes the mosquitos push my limits. Out comes a small can of DEET (Off™) I keep handy in “Clever Girl” for such excursions. I don’t like it anywhere near optics/lenses though. Yuck…
Spring time is a good time for new angles for me to work photographically. The sun pushes North every sunset. Landscape features I use for compositions here in the backcountry are changed in their relationship to the light everday. An infinite variety of subjects over the 5 square miles of this small ranch.
The sun will start setting more to the south each night starting the Summer Solstice June 20th 3:44PM MST, the sun will continue to set to the left from this view point from June 20th till next December. Moving completely off frame with it progression to the south. This is a very wide capture at 130 degrees wide showing the whole sky that night.
With Up hill Perspectives pointing into the sun out there, I’m never lacking a subject in this area lol. Lots of snags (fallen trees) around the highland backcountry ranch land I work are about. They provide cover for smaller creatures as rabbits, mice etc. Some are big enough to provide rain cover under them.
All sizes and shapes, ages and orientations of snags are there for me to play with in the backcountry. Standing as this, or fallen on the remote hillsides of the borderlands still keeping watch over their domain.
Photographic Musings: Only 3 settings to adjust in Manual Mode… F-stop, ISO and Shutter speed. Here is F-stop’s ball game. Close / Far work is good if you can get it 👀😜
Remember that depth of focus means the ability to have the close object in focus AND have the background in focus. The Manual Mode setting you use to be able to do this is F-Stop (aperture size). Large F-stop numbers are a small pin hole in your lens and gives you DEEEEEEP fields of focus. Being a double edged sword, F-stop will simultaneously shut off light as you turn up the numbers setting higher. A higher F-stop number = A smaller hole in your lens gives you good focus but steals light. A larger hole in your lens lets in a lot of light but you have no depth of focus. F-stop is the hard one to understand. Now all you have to do is figure out how to adjust the f-stop in Manual mode in your individual camera. It’s usually a thumb adjustment high on the back.
I never know what to expect from a sunset. Each one takes on a life of it’s own. I am constantly receiving/interpreting cues from the environment about what appears to be happening. I only have a few minutes to decide where I want to set up for the show soon to arrive. There is a quickening of my pace around this time of the evening as the setting sun usually terminates the light
I’m fairly agile in my Ford F-150 Raptor and able to cover a lot of ground fairly quickly as it is more or less a Baja Capable photographic Studio. I’m able to get around on just about any terrain I don’t want to tear up. Ruining trails I am not so much into. We strictly stay off of muddy surfaces. I have well traveled two track trails leading to most high points. I only drive off trail on private ground I own as a matter of principle. Over 80 percent of my trucks current milage off road.
Never expected this iteration on an infinite series of themes. It’s one I don’t normally see with the “Floaty” clouds light up with the deck just above them dark and foreboding. The starred sun which is in and of it self, an artifact of the camera’s high f-stop setting (diffraction artifact). None the less, it adds geometry and order to the chaos of the clouds that evening.
The sunset main show over my shoulder is usually yellow (ish) orange or red. This sunset backshow spread across a huge Mesocyclone storm is Pink. This pink band is called the “Belt of Venus” which is often on going behind you watching a sunset. More so up here in the high ridges of the Montana / Wyoming borderlands. It you don’t turn around now and then, you miss this show. This one was fairly hard to miss though lol. These storms can be 100 miles across. I’d estimate this one is about 100 miles distant from my camera. You can see a LONG ways from the tops of the ridges around this ranch.
Your actually seeing the pink band (red light) surviving the long trip through the earth’s curved atmospherics lens. The storm colorized by that most tortured light shows the gradients well. The Blue Line / Shadow UNDER the Pink is the Shadow of the earths horizon. As the sun sets in this time line, that blue band grows upward covering the storm as the sun drops further below the opposite horizon behind me. The top of the storm is still white as the light that high still has it’s blue components unfettered by the atmosphere. The storm is an ultimate projector screen for the light shone on it from our star. Color banding courtesy of mother nature. 👀🤘📷
Several image from this particular evening made it through the “sieve” I use to determine which photo to work on. They will work their way into my portfolio with time. I’m about 8 days from taking a photo to publishing the page with the narrative in my current work flow. During this spring I’ve been finishing 4 photos a day. I finished 6 a day most of the winter. I don’t think I can do that to my current standards this winter. We will see…
It sure seems that all the Pronghorn Does are pregnant. This group of 6 were hanging out on the MT/WY border with apparently nothing better to do. I was able to drive by these and then come in from the other side of them for some close ups. I was actually on the road for this capture. Having a group of pronghorn already familiar with my Black Ford F-150 Raptor (Clever Girl) this early in the year is a very good thing. I actually circled these guys, got much closer and left them not the other way around. Until they get familiar with me, running away from a vehicle is the standard response.
By late summer, I’ll have these guys thinking I’m just another cow. They will pass this on to their fawns (due within the month certainly). The lack of fear for this particular truck already This will hopefully turn into many close photos of the actors in this group. This last year was a very good wet year so I expect at least several sets of twins out of this group. Six adults turn into a family of say 14 or so… The nursery is going to be busy very quickly. So turns the wheel of life.
The males are mostly off in little groups but the male that was bossing these girls around is just off screen. I’m not sure of his relationship to the developing young. I’m doubting he had control over the group all winter while they were migrating. I’m thinking he’s probably not the father…..
One of my favorite antiques on the ranch is this 1920’s-1930’s Deering Seeder sitting on the toe of a high ridge. The Cretaceous Sandstones capping/covering this isolated plateau of Sage and Spanish Dagger are these hard layers and lenses of hardened sand. This hard sand/rock was cemented harder than the sandstone taken away by erosion around it. Harder due to differences in the “Diagenetic” processes that turned loose plastic sand to rock. Notice I didn’t say magic processes. Good google word for today… It’s the reason the ridge is there… Hard rock protects the softer sandstone below…
The hard cap rock this scene is built over was laid down by just one act of a 3 million year long stage show. At the End of the Reign of the Dinosaurs on the coastal slope (piedmont really) toward the Cretaceous Era “Inland Sea” Sea sediments are 900 feet down here. Above them, the Beach Sand above that marine sediment. That is named Fox Hill Formation. From the old beach is where we get our water. Above that (below me) is another 700 feet of River Sand (Hell Creek/Lance Formations) that many ancient rivers carried lazily here.
I say many because these watersheds with rivers miles wide.. (think anastomosing braided channels of dendritic sand choked channels on a massive scale. Similar to the amazon water shed. This was the last stage for the dinosaurs to live out their last moments. The coast was extant from Canada to northern New Mexico. All along the coast of that land a mere 66 million years before present.
There were untold millions of high water/flood events in the history of this land. Mountains long gone to our west fed vast quantities of sand worn from them by wind water and ice. Our Ranch lies on 14 mile wide strip of Hell Creek/Lance formation exposed on the surface. This exposed due to streams and rivers moving thousands of feet of sediment that used to be above us away. Cutting into these old beds at a slight angle. Youngest rocks west with Older to the east.
Then somebody came along and “dumped this 100 (ish) year old farm implement here giving me a subject in this remote environment. What are the chances lolol.
In my world, the past is the key to the present and the future. Integral within our processes of the present exists hand me down learning from the past. Geological process occur without our being aware of them or not. My point is understanding the past helps predict the future as well as interpreting the present.
Oh, My LED lightbar on “Clever Girl” added some flavor to this freshly rained upon dynamic sunset through a storm in the deep backcountry.
Every capture I post is my memory of a moment in space time that will remain in our digital universe. Anything posted on the internet will probably survive us all. Digital memory is forever assuming a massive solar EMP doesn’t throw us back to the 1880’s. In a sense this image and most of my work is preserved as long as the internet remains a viable domain. Eventually Artificial Intelligence will know everything all of us have ever posted on the internet. Kind o scary huh? AI combined with the development pressure of Covid -19 will make it happen very fast too.
So I had myself a mirrored pond on a rare becalmed evening up here. This spot is exactly on the Montana/ Wyoming border. 45 degrees North Latitude is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole.🤔👀📷 (There are new people reading this lolol).
I made this an action shot. Driving my F-150 Raptor into the pond generated a large train of ripples slowly expanding outwards from the disturbance. The resultant ripple crests were a perfect mirror train to repeat the suns ever expanding reflections as they approach the lens.
These high land ponds are ephermeral, drying with the onset of summer. The sandstone rocks under them soaking up the water slowly replenishing the local “water table”. Water is still in this pond as this posts.
About this photo:
The Dynamic Range in this photo is incredible. I’m using a Sony Alpha 7R4 which has 15 stops dynamic range. I’d like to have a few more of these cameras lol. The dark lower part of this picture has very few artifacts from the WIDE range from straight into the sun to almost pure black but you can see the details in both ends of the lights dynamism.
I attempt to see the world from an entirely different perspective. From under here, there is a feeling somehow of security even though there is a ton of wood over your head being held up by rotten broken branches. What could go wrong there?😜
It’s a busy photo with all sorts of of things going on. Enjoy the looking. I ought to put a “where’s waldo” in some of these images lolol. It was a cool spring morning, still some snow in the hollows. Not long past as this was taken one month ago as this posts. “Summer is coming” and is slowly arriving here to the borderlands. Spring was on a Thursday this year it has been confirmed. ❄️
The sunset here was clear sky with a single cloud providing filter to the light. This kind of show almost always pushes me toward snags to work wide lenses….Grab that 12 – 24mm for sometimes like this. I have a 10mm wide angle full frame lens. I use it when ever I get a chance. It takes very wide perspectives.
Perspectives and clear skies seems to go together… Cloudy complex skies detract from the detail up close. I feel that detail is the point of the photo myself but your opinion may differ lol. RegardingFallen logs: “Snags” each has it’s own character and personality I find out. Some are masculine and rugged like this one. Others are more curvy and feminine with a grace that is hard to describe. Orientations change from tree to tree, opportunity emerges as I drive by on the ridge tops. I see the possibilities as I go though sometimes I get on a mission for a particular tree.
Rarely do I have architectural elements in my images. Under Alpenglow saturated refractive ice filled sky, the football field sized roof sets the stage for this three part drama. We need a little patriotism these days….
Muddled has been the origin of the starts and stripes.. Accounts handed down orally over several generations. Mostly from the descendants of Betsy Ross. Congress onJune 14, 1777 took time from it’s busy schedule. It passed a resolution stating : “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white”. That “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Still to this day, no one knows who designed the flag. No one know why that particular color combination and pattern were chosen. Rumor is Betsy Ross made the first American flag in 1776.
George Washington personally requested her design the flag. Again, this is hearsay. Obviously nothing is hunting it was it never varies its routine. (bad plan generally) Coming home from a long night out working the light with a box of cameras is always full of adventure. I never know what to expect. Wyoming winds are unpredictable so there is a variable you can’t control. Luckily this was/is not much of a problem that night. It’s generally fairly windy in this country. An 80 dollar 5×8 flag usually last me about 4 months before it get’s “Worn out”. 3×2 aspect to 3 feet.
This unusual sky happened about 10 days ago on a stormy eventing in mid March 2020. I had been working this sky for several hours photographically due to the wondrous storm clouds moving through the area. As a grand final act of the stage show that evening, a distant storm cloud decided to make a flashlight beam out of the suns blanket. The edge of that ‘little cloud” on the far right horizon blocked and quartered the sun nicely BEFORE it was actually down. It enabled just an amazing sliver of bright sun to cut the ice in the air with it’s light. All the while that light was color casted orange by passing the hundreds of miles long gauntlet of dust and ice in the air.
This “spotlight” beam passing through the atmospheric ice was indeed a worth show to see and capture. I particularly like the lighter blue’s gradient to the darker indigo above. This is a hint of the extreme wide angle lens I was using to capture this 130 degree wide vistas. The top of the photo is nearly straight up. It is difficult to get a proper prospective without a foreground object. The camera was looking south on the left frame to northwest on the right frame. In other words, it’s a huge chunk of the sky. (10 mm full frame lens)I am constantly wow’d by sky show performances up here. I was lucky to have experienced this night.
There are many more capture of the storms moving through that evening that were/are very good captures indeed. They will slowly make it into my workflow. 2’x3′ image aspect