Sunset Snow Squall (2:1 Diptych is 2-20″x20″ images) A snow filter to the light…..🤔👀📷
This might be a little abstract for my normal viewers. I like the artistic swash of color making its way through a tremendous dumping of snow locally. This was a wonderful moment of orange snowflakes falling heavily everywhere. They were big clusters of merged flakes the size of quarters some were. It was a very wet dump from above. Transitory as such things usually are, lasting about 10 minutes. Then moved on as it was getting quite dark. Time to go home. This storm left an inch on the ground in a very short period of time. Those dots in the sky here are ALL snowflakes from close to infinity frozen in their travels for this moment in space in time.
Here we are mid winter and the snow pack could be deeper. We have been having some smaller snows that are slowly adding up in accumulations. We have indeed had a strange weather year. All climate is local as the world has NO climate. It has ALL climates. Our climate this year started out with a month short summer. We had lilacs blooming on the 4th of July this year. Oct 1 is when winter started in 2019. It really hasn’t been cold here yet though. Most winters we see 20 below actual temps several times, not yet this year however. We have been below zero one period so far. This has been a pretty mild winter by local standards…. So far. (mid-february 2020)
That’s Devil’s Tower on the left and the “Three Sisters”
This country is big. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty big thusly far away. . These bumps on the landscape used to be buried by thousands of feet of sediments surrounding them. The hard rock volcanic neck rose up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The Little Missouri River removed some covering sediments from the west side. The Belle Fourche River Drainage providing the bulk of that work to the east. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.
This was a beautiful evening for a partly cloudy sky sunset. . These kind of evenings are all about the side shows, not the sunset itself. It was calm, little or no wind (rare), you could hear cattle calling from miles around. The air was crisp and icy as can be. It was only 5 minutes to sunset at this capture so the shadows are very long. The contrasts are all building as the “Golden Hour” draws to a conclusion.
That detail on the Devil’s tower is from 40 miles away. In maybe 100 trips to take this scene, this one might be the clearest view from the Pass at Rockypoint that I have in my portfolio.
Location: The Pass at Rocky Point Wyoming, On the border of Crook and Campbell Country about 4 miles south of Montana.
Only the Yucca and the Highest grass is standing above the snow back in this backcountry cul-de-sac of a valley. I was driving the ridges adjacent to this lower area. I’m able to drive mostly two tracks at the time I type this. It has been drifting a bit in the backcountry lately. Makes it hard on me. Tricky…
I have seen this group around in several familiar locations to them and myself. . These 3.5/4.5 year olds all have known me since the beginning by seeing me out on the ranch land taking photos of their childhood and parents. They have slowly started to really accept me as a another grazing animal. I slowly over time carefully approach deer. They are aware of my new vehicle now. How I approach them is the same. The “trick” is that I drive like I’m a grazing animal. Stopping, moving a little and stopping. No hurry. Might take me 1/2 an hour to get up this close. I’ve actually worked inside of deer herd boundaries before.
I wasn’t destined to integrate with the herd here, the terrain was against me getting to them in the first place. Problematic is the travel noise my rig was making. Too much noise busting over/through snow crust. Crunchy noises are not the best way to make deer comfortable I have determined. Make no mistake these are wild deer. These guys were moving slowly across the landscape trailing to bedding in this late day light. They each to an animal have seen me drive around here in my new rig quite a few times now. Hard to get this close in the snow however.
Perspective is indeed was a really cold morning but it was a pretty sunset. Crawling out into the pines seemed like a good idea at the time🤔 We actually have 2 fresh inches of snow on the ground here today (as I type) and expect some more of it. The scar on the tree is from a lightning bolt exploding the layers of wood with water in them. The heat from the bolt flashes the water to steam and boom. This old soldier survived it’s wounds.
This gloomy day with VERY flat light wasn’t that inviting. Anything exposed to the wind because coated by hoar frost. The temps were around zero with some light wind. T-shirt weather without the wind up here. Add some wind, put on the three layers under the Parka. I get out and walk around up on the forested ridges to see what I can see. I use these locations for many of my images. From the POV of field mice.
Every season seemed to be a month late in 2019 . Winter came early, rinse and repeat to mid-February. Last spring, Winter ended late. We had Lilacs blooming on the 4th of July at least a month late. I’ve noticed that the deer rut was late starting by several weeks. It only got to 100 degrees F once this year if memory serves me right. July and August were not nearly as hot as normal. All climate is local I point out. . Global warming didn’t happen here this year. Far from it. It’s just mid-February too so this cold/wet/icy stuff might be around for a while.
Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych (3 – 20×20 inch images. )
Sun pillars are shafts of light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon.
I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere. A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is pretty big. This is close to a 24mm image which is about 1/2 again the angle than your normal vision at 55mm.
The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. For this Phenomena to occur, big oriented plates of ice at a high angle are required. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates. These fall the same way due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read that 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. I bet this is 40 degrees tall if not 45 degrees. This is a very big image wide and high. (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).
Perspective on Snowy Backcountry Ridge (Rare Halfie
The “thin layer” of Yellow Alpenglow colors the floating ice above the rising horizon covering the sun. This sets the stage across the middle of this “halfie”. I maybe take 10 ‘halfies” where the horizon is 1/2 way up the frame a YEAR. This capture won over my better instincts as it has such a big perspective. Leading lines are incoming in all directions. I think all the good things compositionally in this image over come the general rule against “halfies”.
“There seems to be no doubt that the vast quality of mutton can be grown here, pound for pound, as cheap as beef; and, if so, then sheep-raising must be profitable if cattle-raising is.”
Silas Reed, surveyor general of the Wyoming Territory, from his report for 1871.
It took a while for the notion of raising sheep to catch on out on the frontier. Eastern states and Ohio raised most of America’s sheep early on in the migration west. . Small numbers of sheep arrived in Wyoming as early as 1847 according to Levi Edgar Young’s The Founding of Utah, a Mormon pioneer company that left Omaha in July 1847 and arrived in Salt Lake City on September 19 included 358 sheep.
Back to the present. The stone Sheepherders Cairn just to the right of the sun has stood perhaps for 100 years acting as a marker or boundary point . Sometimes they were a place for a supply drop for the backcountry solitary herder hanging out with the sheep. The herder protected the sheep of course from coyotes/lions/other predators. They usually lived out of a covered wagon for months at a time literally alone with their flock.
About 6 months off season, the forest fires to the far west. This is a VERY bright scene but the sun was indeed markedly yellow and the sky crimson on this tiny portion of the sky placed in the same focal plane as this tree. If you hold your thumb out at the end of your outstretched arm, it would cover this image area. Positioned where I thought the bulb should screw into this rare backcountry lamp. When taking such images, movement of your head fractions of an inch makes a REALLY big difference. The lens is an 18 inch 600 mm optic. I’m working hand held for this kind of capture. About 300 yards distant from the snag. The sun is out a bit further. 🤔
Being so bright a scene, it had some interesting light effects on the sensor. The particulates in the air as well as the clouds below it’s line of sight enabling only the longest red rays access to me. The bright yellow light from the sun made it to me though. The pall of smoke trapped all the shorter wavelengths of light from getting to me. I never know how these are going to come out when taking photos way outside the sane photographic envelope looking into the sun as this capture. Settings you must consider looking it a scene is a fast shutter so going freehand is easy. You need ISO low numbers and fstop as high as you need to enable both snag/sun to be in the same focal field.. The higher f – stop will give you a deep depth of field.
The Journey we are on is varied in the paths we take. Many roads traveled and many not. Some choices were made to get where we are. Many were correct in the decision. Others might have been best remembered as a detour along the way.
As travelers, often we must choose between two bad choices others times the choice seems clear. I’m my journey, I have seen the best laid plans fail, and the least anticipated outcomes prevail against all logic. I’ve learned not to swim upstream. I try to float with the current that tows us all along with it’s inexorable pull.
Time and space occupy my thoughts some of the time. Oh not outer space but inner space. For I feel our understanding of what is “without” will be found from “within”. Much of what I observe externally conforms to my beliefs on how the mechanics of the universe I learned from my teachers. Their thoughts gathered from their professors and handed down thusly. The understanding of generations of observers of the natural world painstakingly and sometimes erroneously recited. There is a loss of information in the game of telephone.
The one truism I have learned during my many steps. Things are the way they are, not the way you are told or what you think. I always re-evaluate and modify my path to conform to the values that I have accepted over those miles. Just like taking a path down an untraveled snowy two track off into the distance. One must choose ones’ path carefully.
Boy is there a lot going on here. This was a dramatic morning to a student of clouds. The Kelvin-Heimholtz type Wave Cloud patterns on the top dark band is not a terribly common cloud phenomena. Differences in air density moving past one another making waves… Add to that the spread across the sky crepuscular rays during twilight. I probably have 4 other images in 30 years of photography. Twilight Crepuscular rays hard to find in my experience.
I was looking madly for a foreground object(s). Ones I could use on a mostly treeless parallel ridge between me and the show. The main sunrise still 10 minutes away. I move pretty quickly from place to place if it’s possible. Mid-winter presents it’s challenges to my access or more importantly egress from some of my ridge top photographic locations. I had to drive about a mile in variously deep snow to get this angle on the tree lined ridge over 2 miles distant from my position. There is a large deep drainage between that ridge and myself as well. Can’t get there from here lolol.
The yellow to orange to red Alpenglow gradients is typical morning midwinter. The longer traveled red rays illuminating the cloud deck from below. The Yellow / Orange part of the image is mostly Alpenglow. Alpenglow is exquisite here in the winter. Every twilight has some if the sun is not occluded by clouds. . There is usually ice in the atmosphere in the borderlands even mid summer sometimes. I’ve seen Alpenglow every month of the year.
This sunburst coming just over the edge of the far ridge is one of the most prodigious I’ve had come out of this camera. Part of it was there was a LOT of fog in the air for this. Primarily these sun star are diffraction artifacts inside the lens of the camera. They are either attractive to you or not I have found. I personally like them.
Are these rays there in the real world? Yes they are a result of light passing through a very small aperture. Light diffracts off the edge of the opening which you are seeing here. The same thing probably happens to your own eye but you’d be blinded if you tried so you turn away lolol. No one can look into a scene like this for very long twice. No human eye could do more than glance past this. Then you’d still be seeing spots. When the diffractions stars are BIG, it’s really bright. Also the F-stop is turned up to give me a small aperture. Cuts off light too … Wide focal fields with high F-stops lets me properly focus the grass at my feet AND the hillside.
This was taken a day before we got a pretty good snow. IT’s a LOT harder to get around up on the high ridges now. We’ve been in the deep freeze for a while with mid-February weather spitting a few inches every other day at us. No huge storms YET this winter, I hope we get snow spread out in smaller dumps rather than huge punctuated events with named winter storms.
Pink Alpenglow on Snow Moon (Moon Monday all Day Plus a Windmill Weekday)
Rare mornings each month does the Full moon set with the sunrise behind the photographer. Rarer yet are the mornings that we’ve just had a fresh snow coating everything. Add to that the Red/Pink light of the Belt of Venus falling down on the snow. The 40 miles wide Little Powder River Valley stretches across to the “Red Hills” (Their real name). The 6 inches of fresh snow over the last couple of days has been blowing around from a strong wind. “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill had to get into the picture as is his propensity of course. I have no control over his photobombing actions. In his defense, I find he provides scale for this perspective crushing telephoto shot
Mustings on Agility:
Standing back 400 yards from this .5 second exposure that was on a window clamp mount using my vehicle as a tripod out in a snow covered field that allowed this angle. Yes, this morning I was driving through drifts and 6 inches flat of snow all over the place. I have enjoyed the extra clearance that this new f-150 Raptor has. I’ve never had to take it out of 4 wheel high so far. Off road even down hills pretty steep hills (and getting back up) is doable so far. Usually valleys are black holes for 6000 pound objects that drop below the ridge line. I’ve not managed to get it stuck so far. I’ve gone many places that would have stuck my old jeep hard. I am much more agile in this rig than any other I’ve driven up in the high backcountry.
Always aware of glare effective my images, I not that this particular night was very very golden from the ice projector screen floating in the atmosphere. This is a side show well to the side of the sun which is off frame hard left. It won’t be long until the sun sets in that V-notch as the sun sets a little further north each day on the Big Horn Mountains. Standing at Ridge one on my ranch, The last “Ridge” seen here 130 miles away. That ridge has several 13,000 foot peaks seen her
Photographic Musings focusing on :
When I don’t get detail in the landscape, you can assume that the lighting was pretty dim or very bright. Slow speeds let in too much light. A rested camera at 1/15 th of a second is pretty tough to keep from blurring plus you HAVE to have either a timer to initiate the shutter and a tripod/sandbag or your going to blur. I say if it’s 55mm and smaller that 1/50th is fine and stable unless your taking photos of moving things. The longer the lens, the more ANY movement will tend to blur. WIth a 800mm lens, if I’m working handheld at less than 1/200th of a second is rare and use a rested camera.
My rules of Thumb for Handheld cameras shutter speed. (manual mode) all times are in fractions of a secondl You MIGHT get away with less and slower speeds blurring things intentionally is a valid photo technic. I’ve done that slow setting for a blur numerous times intentionally with bees and other fliers. Freeze the body but blur the wings composition sort of image…
Sitting still subject: 1/50th or faster..
Walking human 1/200th.
Running anything 1/800th
Flying things/moving vehicles: 1/2000th
Bumble Bee Wings 1/4000th. Looking into bright scenes? Try 1/4000th…
These are just a rule of thumb and you can sure get away a bit on either side of those numbers. Of course the faster your exposure and the less light will enter the camera over the shorter period of time. You will have to adjust for fast shutters by either turning up ISO or turning down the F-stop numbers (bigger aperture). There are only three things to adjust in manual mode after all. You just learned one of them. 😀
As Canada Geese migrate, they make nightly stops here on open water which was getting rarer as the season went along. Migration consists of these big birds moving from where there were born, to warmer areas, then back to their birth place.
These geese are amazing birds with up to a 75 inch wingspan weighing between 5 and 15 pounds. Now a 15 pound bird is a LOT of bird. Big Males are nothing to mess with if they are being territorial and habituated to humans in city parks etc. They never stick around up here to give me a hard time so far. They will violently attack any creature that is a perceived threat to their goslings including humans.
The Canada Goose is literally the largest goose in the world. Having said that, there is a subspecies of canada goose that is the smallest goose species in the world as well. The oldest captive goose lived 40 year with 30 years being common in captivity. 10-25 in the wild is typical. They mate for life but if one mate is lost, they will take another.
True Story here on ranch…
I have some experience with geese chasing me. Never fought one. I did however have a confrontation with (captured them by hand) a wild 30 pound bird or 2 before (turkey) that was in our log house under construction at the time with no windows in the building yet. A flock of 1/2 dozen turkeys were inside. Not wanting to clean up the mess, it was my job to get them out…. I went in with safety glasses, a light jacket and gloves. I have determined that turkeys while flying through missing windows do well. Not so much flying out the same windows blanks in a log wall. (to the light). I had to catch each one of the birds Stuck on running around the room from me rather than trying to leave via the window. Dinosaurs all. Just no tail and teeth.
Catching a Pronghorn during Levitation is a demonstration of Stotting or Pronking. Relatively stiff legged they more or less pogo stick across the ground. Apparently it’s an energy efficient way of moving but not their fastest method lol.
Pronghorns are the fastest land animal in North America and pretty much hit 50 everyday around here at one time or the other lol. This apparently is an efficient way of covering ground quickly as they are moving when they do this. Maybe 30 ish…. This is harder to capture than you might think….. This is not really an everyday thing for them. Hard to capture as only once in a while do I see this. You have to be there to start with and then they have to do the behavior you want lolol. Technical camera settings are straightforward but opportunity wins every time. 📸
This of course is a summer photo as the lack of mid-winter snow AND the total absence of the Pronghorns this time of year. There are no Pronghorns on ranch that I am aware of that are overwintering here. We do keep water open but it looks like all of them have migrated south about 30 miles to the Thunderbasin National GrassLands. They gather there by the thousands for running water and lots of grass. I’ve seen individual herds of 250-300 before and they were just a random herd. I know there are bigger groups down there.
These 2 Mule Deer Bucks caught in a late twilight Silhouette were up watching the sun go down with me. They were ridge lined and I was able to maneuver way below them about 100 yards out and Click….
I know this these two pretty well as they are brothers born a year apart I’ve watched grow up. There is a 2.5 year old on the right, a 3.5 year old on the left and a 4.5 year old in the center. It’s all about the antlers lol. These boys They are pretty used to me being around but they are still quite wild. They don’t come down to greet me you might say but I can get pretty close if the conditions are right….. As long as I stay in my vehicle anyway.
Next year the bigger of the two will probably be a serious challenge for the other itinerate bucks that wander through. There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These guys start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.
It was very low light. To freeze them in space and time, you need at least 1/200th second for a walking deer. You either give up Fstop (depth of focus) or ISO (camera sensitivity) I gave up f-stop as the detail in the sky behind wasn’t critcal. Getting a longer depth of focus is what Fstop does along with either letting in more light or taking it away with higher F-stop numbers.
Getting to a favorite overlook for catching a Twilight Moment in the Backcountry in the Wyoming/Montana Borderlands is an exercise in driving remote two track roads in the dark dark lol. I might take 10 or 20 minutes to get into position for a shot like this pre-sunrise usually in late Nautical Twilight where stars are visible early on.
Eastern Skies almost always have better twilight shows than western skies as there is usually more ice in the atmosphere by my observations. Others may disagree.🤣This is in mid Civil Twilight which starts 28 (ish) minutes before actual sunrise. Nautical Twilight just ended and Astronomic Twilight (when the stars just disappear) has been over for a 1/2 hour. IT takes about an hour for the sun to rise. The horizon is actually falling away from covering the sun for the night. Remember it’s not the sun that’s moving. I remind you that it is the earth that is rotating. The horizon is literally falling when you look to the east about 4-6 inches during the time it takes a rifle bullet to reach 1000 yards out.
This Backcountry show starts in pitch black as deep as the North Atlantic Ocean (according to NOAA). Little dribs of color pushing through the dark. . As time progresses, the “volume” of the color wheel is turned up. Such Sky Shows are a pleasure to watch from beginning to end and I have done many many hundreds in totality. I’m pretty sure time isn’t taken off your lifeline for time spent watching sunrises and sunsets.
This is a 1 second time exposure as it is. No wind, dead calm or the pine needles would be a blur.
I live up on the high ridges of the Borderlands. About 300 feet lower from my place, this goes one. We’re all in trouble for floods to reach my door. Our homestead sits at 3700 feet. This flooded spot on the Montana border is 3419 feet above mean sea level. The Lowest spot in Wyoming is 3099 feet above mean sea level on the Belle Fourche River. My communication tower is 4013 feet or about 300 feet above my house. . A lot of water runs past this point in the right season.
This from last year showing the result of a quick warm up in March. The snow pack last year was greater at the same time than this year I observe. Drainage funneling down to choke points of course is a recipe for high water. Upstream here covers an area 50 miles long and 40 miles wide in some places. It’s several thousand square miles in the drainage of the “Little Powder River”. That’s a lot of ground with a couple of feet of snow melted down to 6 inches of well packed firn (granular snow) .
The local term is, “the river is coming down”. Now as a geologist, I think of the river coming down as referring to the water level declining. But this colloquial use means the water level is going up. All that water up stream is “Coming down”. I had never heard before I moved up here. Anyone else use this as a term for rising flood waters?
In this spring time shot, these Pronghorn Does are still in winter coat and are starting to shed in clumps. The doe in the foreground right is way pregnant. Of great interest to me are the differences in the color of their coat depending on the angle of the golden light from the sun. In shadow, there is a marked tan color. Their coat turns to reddish under the color cast.
These are Pronghorn. They are not “Antelopes” no matter if the “Deer and Antelope Play” song rolls through your head lolol. It is not a “Speed Goat” either and is not related to a goat. It’s not related to an Antelope, the natural location for the closest of which is in Africa. It’s Latin Name “Antilocapra americana” literally means “american goat”. It is not either a goat or an Antelope as I said. It is the sole surviving member of the Antilocapridae family in North America and has literally been in North America for at least a million years. More of a relative of the Giraffe than any other animal…
The best way to tell a male from a female is to look for a black cheek patch a male has absent here. These are females sans that patch. They are active both night and day, have excellent eye sight and can see you up to 4 miles away. Your not sneaking up on these guys/gals very easily. (I’ve done it). . It takes about 20 foot strides when running which helps it keeps it’s title as the “Fastest land animal in North America”. They are strictly a western United States creature of the Rocky Mountains and the grasslands.
The commonality we all have with roads leading off into the distance brings back memories of “going over the pass”. Every time I crest a hill I never know what I’m going to see.
Taken early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. . I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy cloud gradient already on a remote high ridge. A fully involved sky is a treasure but this morning was a treasure chest with all the rare colorcast it led to later in the sky show.
Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.
Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you usually have to gain altitude to do so. Much easier on the roadways than back on the snowy ridges. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. Everything else is lower in this area. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country. This was a stressless busy morning for sure.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
Boy was this young bull a trouble maker. Corriente’s really don’t care too much about fences. He at 1 year of age got a whiff of some angus heifers and managed to spend the night before we got him out of that mess. Waaa Hooo… Barbed wire is no match for these guys motivated. His name is “Salt”. He mother is a short hair version of him colorwise. This is the only long haired Corriente we’ve ever bred.
Roping Cattle is a big local “sport” activity in this region. This young Corriente’ (spanish breed) are really good for practice on a cowboy/girl skill of roping from horseback. These cattle are fast and have shorter horns. It’s easier to get the rope around the horns. But the horns are big enough to have the rope cinch there. Versus angus purebreds, cattle of this breed are ALL athletes. Many ranches have some if they are active cattle operations with real cowboys. The “Sport ” of roping is part of most rodeos/ ranch work. Practical skills used in cattle ranching and the sport of such. Practice makes perfect.
He spent his summer running from horses. Then being roped is usually the end result. . Lopped off were the two items causing his bull issues. So he’s not quite as much of a problem lol. He will be a sporting cow for a year until he get too big or his horns get too long. He’s getting a bit big already.
Veiled sunsets as this are best viewed from high on the ridges here in the Wyoming / Montana borderlands. I travel deep into the high ridges to find views like this. A visual alley appears in front of me, I crunch to a stop and line up the composition. I find it’s easier for these scenes to find me than me to find them. Give the ridge a walk and see what pops up is one method I have used with some success. Of course getting up there is another discussion all together lol. It’s been muddy lately so I haven’t gone up the hill until tonight. It’s frozen up there now. There is no reason to tear up the turf that took hundreds of years to stabilize. It’s one thing to drive over grass when dry, it’s another thing leaving ruts in the ground. Ranchers are the best caretakers because we don’t want to hurt the productivity of the ground. I seldom drive off the two tracks and usually dismount to walk the scene.
Of course my photo timeline is governed by where I am and what the sky is doing so I’m pretty versatile. My rig will drive across most things but snow drifts will stop me. So far this year drifts have been far and in between with the deep snow being on slope sides. Stands of Yucca brush will trap deep snow and stick the unwary backcountry traveler. I drive a very agile new Ford F150 Raptor. Built/configured just for this. It’s a wonderful upgrade to my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I carry a radio anyway 🤔📷
Traveling the high ridges one tends to get tunnel vision. You look where your going not necessarily where you’ve been. Occasionally, I will stop and just take a photo of where I just traveled from. It’s a long way back that way…
Snow diamonds falling in the crisp mountain air here is startling to see live and fairly hard to capture adequately digitally. Seeing them on the ground is about the only way to see them. The intensity of the sun detracts from the intensity of the reflections off those hexagonal ice plates. Those fall like parachutes often out of almost clear skies when the moisture is wrung out of the air mass by the cooling. The plates I’ve seen falling like feathers before with blue skies around. They lay flat and act like mirrors on the otherwise crusted snow pack.
I’m pretty sure if I got a flat tire up here that AAA would show up like Bill Murray in “Ground Hog Day” with a jack. Maybe not…. 70 miles to the nearest 4 way stop light…. Fortunately I have really good tires now and really don’t expect to pop a tire any more. Having said that driving long distances in areas where there aren’t many people traveling by is potentially wrought with hazard.
If you don’t have the ability to get yourself out of trouble, best not go there. At any one time I could pull over and set up camp right here, I wouldn’t like it but I’d survive lolol. A minus 10 rated bag at minus 10 is still not enough in my experience lol. I also carry a radio (2) and spare batteries lolol. It does get back to the base from about anywhere I drive up here.
Just NEVER leave your vehicle if you get stuck in the middle of nowhere in winter. Start yanking insulation out of your seats to keep warm with if you have to. Always have survival gear suitable to your environment.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
The Corriente” Breed was brought into the America’s as early as 1493. These are a breed of Criollo cattle all descended from that old lineage. They are all to an animal tough, fast, self sufficient, and will paw at the snow and find grass in the winter. These are relatively small cattle compared to the modern beef cow. They almost went extinct with the introduction of bigger breeds. American Ropers and Doggers Know all about them. You know who you are 👀
Big Bulls are 1000 pounds, big cows weigh in at 800 pounds. Yearlings are around 400 pounds in both sexes. Qualities: Corriente” are Great Sports Cattle, These guys are supposedly easy to tame. They are lean beef and good eating. Small Herds are easy to keep. Hardy as heck, they actually require less food and water than other beef brands. Good cows to have a small herd of. They don’t take much diesel fuel to keep alive. 🤔🤔☑️
Musings on Narratives:
I write like Trump talks. Chain of consciousness plus I type very fast. Believe it or not, there is a technical reason to have long narratives on your post if your a budding professional photographer as myself. Google will take note of you more/better and place you higher on search results. There are all sorts of technical things I do in my narratives to attract google. The saying is: If your not on the first or second page of google, your not going to be found. 300 words plus it is minimum per image I post.
I am currently posting 5 images a day each taking over an hour to do. That’s around 1700 words I write each day. I’m not sure who’s going to compile it into book but I hope it’s not me lolol. I’m sure a few books have already narrated in my postings and I have them all in a pile I can access.. Easy to assemble by sorting pages. The pages are out there already lolol.
I LOVE shares by the way ❤️ They are the nicest compliment you can give an artist on FaceBook short of buying his/her art lol.
Close / Far perspectives lend themselves to clear skies. The details up close are of course my subject with the sunset only being an extra “hero” of the image. The totality of these landscapes in this country is staggering in their vastness and variety. Every hill crest has an entirely new world just over the top. All the hill sides are different in the angle and orientation of the vegetation living or laying. I keep a map in my head of the snags (fallen trees) that sparsely litter the hills. Treed pastures are prime hunting grounds for me photographically. The joy of being a landscape artists is I don’t have to pay models or deal with crying moving toddlers. No diaper changes mid shoot up here.
The “Golden Hour” (said with reverence) is that time of the day and hour after sunrise or and hour before sunset. The distance through the atmosphere that the light travels get greater the higher the horizon rises. Of course the sun doesn’t set, the horizon actually rises to cover the sun. Remember that things are as they are, not as you have been told or casually think about them.
I always try to keep narratives in the perspective that I’m trying to capture. Understanding how things work is key to working those things with cameras or any other way for that fact.. Knowledge is power and gives you the ability to anticipate outcomes of what ever process your involved with. Having done this a few times, makes the next one usually turns out a little better using the knowledge you have acquired in the past. Paying dues of course is the key to acquiring that knowledge.
Simple perspectives are my stock and trade. I have tried to make an art out of using the things that nature provides for me to photograph. There are so many little area of zen popping up everywhere I glance. The problem of course is there are so many and so little time so I just concentrate on the obvious stuff. Trying not to stand on my head or bend in a direction my design specifications don’t conform to. Fortunately this process involves a lot of walking on uneven ground carrying some camera weight up top. It keeps me in shape but more important it keeps me connected to the earth. Walking about is how I hunt dinosaurs in this country. Watching the earth is what I do.
Being very earth centric, I’ve spent my whole life considering geologic processes. Most are unaware of them and “blissfully” so. As a student of paleoenvironmental analysis, I see below this landscape and imagine the world that laid the sediment that eventually became those boulders. Clues in the rocks tell me books of information by their presence/characteristics. Geologists see past the beautiful sunset (enjoy those too). We imagine what processes leading to that rocks formation. I have a 3 D map in my head of the orientation of the rock layers under my feet. A useful thing to keep handy at times ….
It is somewhat complex to figure out what processes worked the sands these rocks are made of. That Hell Creek/Lance formation sand was deposited 66 +million years ago according to MANY scientists…. That’s 48.3 billion sunsets/sunrises. Actually numbers like that easily flow into my understanding of things when I imagine the inside structure of the earth, processes that occur now occurred then as well. You might say the perspective I have goes a bit under the surface of what I “look at”. Time is a 4th dimension to me. I don’t just look for fossils here, I look at the rocks to see if they are likely to have fossil in them first…..
Speaking of time, enjoy the snowy sunset and the Close/ Far Perspective.
Sun Trapped by Windmill (Headline of the news story).
A tad bit of Satire if you don’t mind …. (It’s an old narrative if your new to my world 🙂 )
Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite: 😜🤘
Crushing Perspective with Telephoto lenses is a very good pastime. I find that certain objects lend themselves to Close/Far work which of course is quite challenging to line up just so…… “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill here lends himself more than not to photography. He sites pretty well, much better than most kids anyway. The durn sun is always moving. It worked it’s way from the “trap” by slipping out the back door…….😜
Sneaky has his job on the ranch pumping air into a barnyard pond to keep it freezing in the winter and destratified plus the O2 thing. He is an aquarium pump lolol. Just a really small duck pond. He’s close enough to my house to be the first thing I run by on my way out to backcountry photo locations I visit.
So Sneaky is a notorious photobomber of some ill repute. He is always popping into my landscapes as I obviously have no control over his actions. Only Timber slows him down as he gets tangled… He only lets me live here as he’ll be here long after I’m gone. Sneaky is quite a character, I’ve seen him hang around those innocent Mule Deer and Pronghorn. He lives of course near a running water hydrant so the local wildlife is usually negotiating deals between the various characters that live around here through him. His deal is all about publicity.📸📸
As I am variously locked out of the backcountry by snow amounts and drifting, I tend to drive the backroads on mornings that are likely to light up. I saw the perspective, skidded to a stop, reversed and set up. I was trying to get that sunpillar centered within the visual tunnel created by the tractor tire. That tire is a “marker” as in, “drive 2 miles past the tractor tire” kind of directions. Some rancher planted this because it was easier than burying it completely. Fill up the inside with dirt and you stop the mosquito trap. It turned into a handy marker.
If I see an old “No Hunting” sign, I’ll stop just for that. Add a Tractor tire to that scene and you definitely got my attention. They on cue a sun pillar lined up precisely with the row of telephone poles running off in the distance. I don’t make this stuff up, I just capture the photons from it. Mother nature and ranchers got together here conspiring to make this composition. Neither party knew what they were ultimately up to I would speculate 😜😜👀📸
Sun Pillars are the result of falling hexagonal plates of ice all oriented flat as that is how they free fall. Like little parachutes they orient and reflect light off the gathering sunrise. The cumulative effect reflects light while the surrounding moisture absorbs it. Sun pillars can form above or below the sun itself. Here the sun is JUST below/behind the horizon. I don’t see a genuine purple sky too much but this one was real. Note no Purple snow.
I originally took this as a landscape during the golden hour. It is the backshow right at sunset with an excessive red/yellow color cast lighting. Everything was deeply red or yellow shaded. This is the improved version having reduced the color cast quite a bit lolol. I reproduce things here the way I experienced them. Not how the camera records it since the technology seldom get’s it right. When you get up on the ridge tops, you see the really red light saturate everything just as the sun sets. This scene was one of those situations where I was glad I turned around. I had to reset my cameras shutter speed from 1/8000th point at the sun to 1/60th of a second with the turn though lolol.
That day ending had it’s own character as each is unique of course. The chill was there but the snow had melted during the day leaving some muddy places. Snow in the shadows is where I drive then on the frozen ground to avoid tracking up the soil saturated with snow melt. The soil frozen below the melt prevents it from soaking is turning 300 year old turf into mushy soup that a foot print will destroy. I try very hard not to tear up the ground here. There is way too much human disturbed ground around the country. Smart travel in the backcountry helps a little at a time.
The rainbow is just barely visible if you zoom in and use your peripheral vision. It stands out then. It wasn’t raining but it was humid from all the sublimation and evaporation from the melt. Rare clear sky rainbow……
Late January is when this image was taken. The sun is slowly moving north each place and time it sets. Each night it will get closer and closer from my vantage point to the Range. Still north of the sun’s setting current locations are the Big Horns Mountains. They will for the next month come closer and closer to the sun setting in that big notch. Only once or twice in the last 20 years has the weather window cooperated with that occurring. Naturally this is all from my vantage point. I live/work across the 130 mile wide Powder River Basin. It lays between me and the 13,000 feet high Big Horn Range (the last ridge).
The ice in the crisp air was thick at sunset. Including the sun into the image would have been too much for the scene that presented itself to me. The landscape ladder that was resultant from the powerful gradients thus created by mother nature. It’s all very difficult to catch with our current technology. The cameras don’t yet have the dynamic range necessary to capture this scene without the negative space lower right. Don’t get me wrong. I actually like that dark space. Someday cameras will be up to the task without bracketing exposures and having to composite HDR.
If you are new to my narratives, I live up on and around the Montana / Wyoming border. Most of my work it north of Gillette Wyoming to Broadus Montana. We have a 50 mile view to the east from the first of 5 ridges I have easy backcountry access to that I hunt light on. I actively work both sides of the border virtually daily. As a landscape artist I primarily work light but if some of the wildlife locals jump into my frames I will allow it. Some of my narratives are years old and have taken on a life of their own. Please excuse my occasional forays into wild imaginings and fantasies both mine and more classical.
Here Wiley Coyote’s cousin Willey takes a second to look back just to make sure that was a camera lens I was pointing at him. I have years of long range shooting precision rifles under my belt. I’ve been shooting guns a lot longer than I’ve been shooting with cameras lolol. As a ranch owner, I share the general irritation at seeing a coyote hanging around my ground (or anybody elses). A lot of livestock has been killed by coyotes.
I think on an intellectual level, they generally get a bad rap as mostly they eat mice and voles. They will occasionally eat the face off calves while they are being born. Lambs are a favorite snack. Road Runners are too hard to find around here except the local grade school who’s sports team goes by that moniker. So what I’m saying is, this guy is lucky that last look back wasn’t his actual last look back. It’s pretty hard to get a rifle into play after using a long lensed camera. It think the camera+lens is longer…. It might be a consideration that it’s illegal to shoot from a country road except with the camera. Also shooting a suppressed rifle from a county road would be a federal crime since any criminal act committed with a National Firearms Act registered device (like a suppressor/silencer) becomes a federal felony instantly. Needless to say, this guy walked away. It’s all in the details folks….
Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands on Trail Creek Road.