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Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape
Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

Here the BigHorn Mountains are surrounded by an odd color to cover a landscape. It was really that color lol. I saw this developing the other night. I’ve been on a mission to catch the orange light behind the BigHorn Mountains. I haven’t seen a weather window open to the BigHorns for over a month. Smoke, haze, soot and other forest fire products were blocking the view. The sun was hiding far to the right off frame. This was a night when the side shows were WAY more photogenic that the glare of the sun. The odd lighting resultant from the filtering of the light by the smoke.

The 130 miles distant 13,000 foot high mountain range was shrouded in this Orange (ish) colorcast. It was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape. As the sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds, the scene disappeared. Too dark to capture.

I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The distant range is always playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have very few Long Distance captures from this month on the ranch. Those few will slowly work their way into my work flow here. The black ridge at the in front of the BigHorns is 40 miles out from this high resolution camera.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.

Title: Portrait BigHorns Long Landscape

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Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone
Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

This is the third image in this Huge Storms Time line that I’ve published. Several double bolt shots were taken of this storm. What really stands out on my 27 inch computer screen….. That loop of clouds on the far left side of the frame stands out big time to me. It is a perfect chain hook for this storm. I’d say the bottom of this huge slowly spinning stop is 15 miles across and the top was 40 or 50 miles across. Still small at this capture, 2 hours later it ran over the Devil’s Tower area. I have images of Hail Slathering the Tower from the hail coming off the back of this storm. The separate shafts off the right side of the storm consists of mostly hail surrounded by rain.

You want to avoid the back of these storms as getting under one will get you slathered in hail. Hail can be 5 inches or so. That would be a bad thing. In 2008 we had some soft ball hail cause 150 grand of damage on our place. This year 1/2 hour of chickens egg sized ice with a few bigger did over 1/4 million in damage. Next year we will be replacing 47000 thousand square feet of roofing. That is our ranch headquarters just this side of the north part of the storm by about 15 miles. It went past us and left us untouched but we got little rain. We need the rain but not the hail. Picky, picky, picky…..

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

Twin Bolts Massive Mesocyclone

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Hail Shaft Incoming

Hail Shaft Incoming
Hail Shaft Incoming

Hail Shaft Incoming

Boy I was traveling and I sure didn’t want to get under that. It’s hard to predict the motion of something like this and drive at the same time. You have to stop. Which is where it overtook me. It’s about 7 miles away from me at this point and heading right my way. I weathered the storm behind a stand of large well needled pine trees. Trees are of course a dangerous place to be during lightning but this really wasn’t an electrical storm. I was on rubber tires so I wasn’t too worried about ground currents in the truck. It was definitely a hail storm and that was a VERY heavy shaft of rain/hail. I call that a “Water DUMP” .

When streams run up here high on the ridges, there is going to be high water down drainage for sure. All this surface area really adds to the number of gallons concentrated in the valleys. Some canyons off this ridge are a hundred feet deep cut into the Cretaceous Sandstones underlaying my parking place. I saw more running water after this passed than I’ve seen in years. The hail was small marble sized fortunately but we got a bit of it. There are many more (many) more photos from this weather event’s timeline.

The events in the aftermath of this were VERY interesting to me. I saw some phenomena I haven’t seen in decades. Click, Click, Click, Click …. So many choices, so little time ….

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Hail Shaft Incoming

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Massive Cathedral Sky

Massive Cathedral Sky
Massive Cathedral Sky

Massive Cathedral Sky

Another name is “Crown” Sky. This is the second image I’ve posted from this timeline. This is the widest lens I have. The top of the frame is past straight up (over 90 degrees tall). These “Crepuscular Rays are actually over my head from the horizon. This is a first for me. I’ve never seen one this big before. It literally covered 1/2 of the sky. I figure this is about 1/4th of the sky as it continued over head quite a way.

Unfortunately there were no “Anticrepuscular” rays on the other side of the sky associated with this or I would have done the whole sky as a mosaic dome with 5 or 6 images from this lens. Still this was an awe inspiring display to witness. It lasted a good 1/2 hour too so it’s not like I don’t have options regarding image choices lol. Several hundred clicks were heard in proximity to this event from my place.

The different images each reflect the constantly changing dance of clouds blocking the rays. It’s not rays lighting up the sky, it’s shadows not lighting up part of the sky you note as distinctive. Without the shadow of the cloud tops, you would be looking at a uniformly illuminated smoke screen. That acting like a projector screen from that bright bulb. Otherwise, everything would be lit up . This is all about shadows of that big cloud above the sun.

10mm Full Frame Lens, 130 degrees wide.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Massive Cathedral Sky

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Best Cathedral Sky Ever

Best Cathedral Sky Ever
Best Cathedral Sky Ever

Best Cathedral Sky Ever

I get a few “Cathedral” Skies every year. This happened a week before this is published. Assuming you haven’t just returned from two weeks of Spelunking deep under a rock somewhere, we are living under a Pall of Smoke from western fires. Most of the west is enjoying unhealthy air qualities, and high temperatures. Low humidities, dry lightning strikes and a drought year long term continue to press the US.

This was not a short sky show either. 1/2 an hour… forever for me. I went into a how often do I see such a thing and started really accumulating clicks at a serious pace. The image changed by the minute with the rays changing / morphing as the clouds moved. The “Crepuscular” rays slicing through the heavy smoke above highlighting it with white unfiltered light above. Red Light traveling through miles of atmosphere making a shaft spreading below the sun.

Taken with one of my widest lenses. A 12 mm full frame Sony G series. The resultant image is well over 90 degrees wide and very tall. This is a major contender for the Largest Crepuscular display I’ve personally ever seen in my travels. It was a very unusual meteorlogic situation. Certainly an irreproducible set of circumstances. I’ll never get another chance like this in my lifetime I suspect. I took several hundred images on several cameras. There are many variations on this theme. Some are amazing like this one.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Best Cathedral Sky Ever

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Road to the Smokey Sunset

Road to the Smokey Sunset
Road to the Smokey Sunset

Road to the Smokey Sunset

This is the way my camera recorded this trip up to ridge one this AM. I was interrupted at the first ridge by a herd of Pronghorn feeding there. That took a few minutes but they were patient with me and no matter how strange the lighting, I’ll photograph Pronghorn up close. No indication they were here in this capture. Up the hill I headed.

This was my establishment shot for just starting to take images that morning. I was late getting up the hill this morning so the sun had some time to rise above the ridge top. I have been working both sunrise and sunset photographically for the last week (14 in a row). It’s starting to wear and tear but one has to work when there is light. Well I would indicate that this is a very one subject but very interesting light environment. As long as the smoke pall is over us, I will be working these sunrises and sunsets.

This is what I saw through the camera lens. I can adjust the exposure but this is no “filter” photography as it were. I couldn’t actually look at this so who is to say it’s not what was actually there. The human eye wouldn’t like looking at even that heavily smoke filtered sun for long. It’s not good for you.

I’m looking at the cloud cover this evening on “Weather Wall”™. It shows the smoke pall very well. Might be clearing for this sunset. Planing where to go is a good thing.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Road to the Smokey Sunset

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Good Evening All

Good Evening All
Good Evening All

Good Evening All

Dramatic occluded sunsets are typically dark. I present this dark because it was lolol. . It’s the color I was after in the highlights. It was dark enough that the dynamic range (DR) of the camera was apparent. The lack of DR there of is my point I’m thinking. My eye could discern much more detail in this lighting environment. There is a point. When the full sized sun popping through a thin slit on the horizon. Is effective already down. More of a candle light than the furnace it would be with the cloudy obfuscation. Most images would have a completely black / silhouette landscape in this light. Cameras dynamic range is lacking compared to the human eye. There are some that are better than most others lol. Give the technology a few years

There is a LOT of detail in the landscape buried in the “black” . Most of the ground here is 400 feet or so below the hill I chose to climb that evening. Driving up these hills can be challenging, but then the sun goes down and your still up the hill…..😜 One of the few disadvantages of “Clever Girl” versus my old Jeep Grand or even my Polaris Crew Ranger is being able to see over that big hood. IT does have a camera up there though…… 📷 It is also a full foot wider than my Jeep Grand Cherokee so fitting between trees I used to fit through becomes a considered thought process lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana
Title: Good Evening All

Good Evening All

081820C
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Twin Forces of Nature

Twin Forces of Nature
Twin Forces of Nature

Twin Forces of Nature

Close / Far Perspective

If you don’t think one is dangerous and the other isn’t, you need to live up here a while. It would change your opinion. Two things that can mess up your day are in this image lol. You might have to look closer to see the 5 deer and one bedded Pronghorn. The thunderhead (Mesocyclone) Anvil is about 80 miles distant from the Bull. The sub-irrigated field still green even this late in the year.

Bulls are of course known to be temper-mental. I find generally they are lazy unless there is a Cow involved. In which case 1800 pounds of moving muscle on the hoof is a lot of hamburger to flip on the grill. This is the sized animal that if it decides to screw with you, your best bet is to start turning faster than he can lol. It’s your only hope lol. Being on a good cattle horse is a whole different experience of course.

The Huge Mesocyclone off in the distance is known to be temper-mental. Their bad behavior is due to the heating of the land by the sun during the day. The rising warm humid ground air coming into contact with cooler air aloft causing cloud growth. Like the bull, you can never predict what they are going to do.

Both will run right over you if you get in their way :(.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Twin Forces of Nature

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Perspective Wheel of Weather

Perspective Wheel of Weather
Perspective Wheel of Weather

Perspective Wheel of Weather

Belt of Venus pink light reflecting off of the projector screen that those two HUGE Mesocylones become at this time of day. The sun had already set. THe shadow of the horizon was climbing up the massive storms base toward totally shadowing the screen. The right independent storm was in deep shadow of the storm to the left. Both were dangerous to be under. They were 80 miles to the north and a bit east from my location here in Wyoming. Hoovering and pounding on the Ekalaka Montana/TriState area (North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana).

IT’s easy to see something 30,000 feet high from only 80 miles out. Clear twilight air after similar storms moved through our area made them look just over the horizon. Clear as a bell with most of the dust washed out. The top of the tower on the left still being illuminated by the first yellow light affiliated with the “golden hour” sunset. The bottom of the cloud in horizon shadow. That is pretty much the entire gradient during late sunset with the horizon rising over my shoulder. The sky high above is still blue as it’s being illuminated by mostly unfiltered light still with Blue color remaining. THe lower atmosphere filters out the blue leaving only the longer wavelengths to bounce back to my camera. You can clearly see the hazy layer terminating just above the high cloud tops.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Perspective Wheel of Weather

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Trunk Filter Lone Tree

Trunk Filter Lone Tree
Trunk Filter Lone Tree

Trunk Filter Lone Tree

I love using natural materials to filter out the glare from a setting sun such that the background colors appear. Between lens reflections and flares, the glare makes for a harsh photographic environment. Resultant in umber colored images unlike this blue sky to yellow transition. When I utilize something like this tree trunk to block, completely hide the sun, a different world emerges from the light overload. Almost nothing can look at the sun unfiltered. Modern Large sensor cameras do pretty well (fairly high end mirrorless NOT DSLR cameras) at not melting a spot in the sensor pointing into the nuclear furnace.

Chasing Gradients of color hue or saturation is a worthy use of my limited hands on camera time I feel. The yellow / golden light surviving the trip through the lower atmosphere making it to my photon capture device is dutifully recorded digitally. What ever software algorithm the camera settings impart to record the scene as a series of Ones and Zeros (I0III000I00)Billions of numbers long. It is my job to bring the digital file out of the camera and bring it into the digital darkroom.

It is my choice to finish them as I remember them. Everybody that actually is a photorealist must process the photo in some way or another. Cameras are terrible at getting it right. First of all I intentionally expose ONLY the highlights correctly. That way you can actually see detail in them. They are not all blown out as if you try to get dark detail. Blown out is lost information and bad photography.

Then you use the tools in a program like Photoshop™ or Lightroom™ to bring the dark areas back to reality. This process expands the dynamic range of the image. I brought the green out of the tree from pitch black. It’s a little thing but it’s exactly what Ansel Adams did with his contrasts and differential exposures. He did his in the chemical dark room and this would have taken him months to do this in black and white. Let alone the color thing. Technology has advanced a LOT in this field over the last century.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/ Montana borderlands.

Title: Trunk Filter Lone Tree

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Twin Mesocyclones over Wyotana

Twin Mesocyclones over Wyotana
Twin Mesocyclones over Wyotana

Twin Mesocyclones over Wyotana

This pair of 30 mile across spinning tops of a storm called a “Mesocyclone” stretched across the Montana /Wyoming border 20 miles south and 45 miles north to Broadus MT. Internet Radar showed it pretty well considering. We are in a Doppler Radar shadow zone between Rapid City and Billings. These storm showed up paired up which I don’t see too often. Two alien ships approaching as in the movie “Independence Day”.

These Mesocyclones are a curse and a blessing depending on where you are when they go over you. Usually there is a rain shaft or two in them. Sometimes it just rains like heck and the storm parks over you. We got .45 inch from this storm “front” moving through. That is a HUGE amount of water during a very dry summer. We feel fortunate to get it.

If you look at the trees on the landscapes first ridge, you can see the burnt area from recent grass fire on ranch. We BARELY kept it out of the trees on the other side of that hill. Starting on the right, blown to the left It did run about 1/2 a mile. If it had been unattended, it would have made it across the 10 miles to Biddle Montana by the next day. The phone tree worked resulting in neighbors with water/sprayers on their truck coming out of the wood work. It takes a community. 😀

Seen from the hill I climbed after a lighting storm to “look around”. When I first saw it, it was very small. 20 minutes later, the first break in the fire left to right was us driving across in front of it. It still got past our first pass as the 20 mph winds drove it.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands

Title: Twin Mesocyclones over Wyotana

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Sunset View through the Pines

Sunset View through the Pines
Sunset View through the Pines

Sunset View through the Pines

I figure as a landscape artist, I better capture one now and then. Even better present it here for your consideration. Thank you for your time this early morning. Enjoy the coffee

Have you ever taken a photo of just that certain “Golden Hour” light only to have it turn out perfect? Me neither lolol. Fortunately I have some basic knowledge of the digital dark room to get it pretty close to how I remember the moment. This image is very close to the original scene. Being a photorealist with OCD has its high AND low points lolol. The hardest part for me is getting the sage brush the right color. It has an unusual bluish hue that is definitely a unique shade.

The Sun here I intentionally composed into the Pine Tree to help filter out some of the unwanted light. Too hard to get this accurate color wash with such a bright light to compensate for. This let me focus more on the wonderful light that was illuminating the brown grass tops. There were many colors of green in the real scene that are all represented here. The Robins Egg Sky true to the moment. The white clouds at top frame still bathed in the white light of the sun unfettered by very much atmosphere up so high. The sun setting color gradient not as obvious unless you understand how and why these various colors are reflected to my lens.

From early June 2020 when it was still a little green…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Sunset View through the Pines

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Under the Spinning Monster

Under the Spinning Monster
Under the Spinning Monster

Under the Spinning Monster

Boy this is a big one. This is as they say, just the tip of this weather iceberg. Just as dangerous here with 90 percent of it out of view hidden behind a veil of it’s own doing. It’s an odd perspective, the horizon only looks tilted as your looking at a climbing ridge from left to right. The storm itself is horizontal. And did I mention BIG. 👀

The serious weather looks to be around 30 miles off. Approximately the storm is 80 miles across. I’d LOVE to have cell service up here to get live radar but that hasn’t happened yet. We are pretty remote.. It’s really handy be be able to look through these walls of clouds to see what they are doing. Not having in truck radar images is why I got caught off guard by that damaging hail storm hitting us hard a few weeks ago. I’m working these storms based on what I see. I came in from the ranch land expecting a hail shaft to be coming in but didn’t know 3 inch hail was incoming in it or that it would last for 1/2 an hour. Stalled storm…

Being Anywhere in front of these rotating masses is not a good place to be. Under the wall cloud all sorts of bad things can happen. To the rear of the storm the hail will get progressively bigger. Down draft straight winds just add to the pleasure of watching 3 inch hail bash most things to smithereens. We had 6 digit damage here on ranch in July from one of these.

With the energy of a small Atom Bomb, powered by solar energy. If you by happenstance to be directly under the business end of a stalled version of this, your going to have a big rain. We had 4 inches in 45 minutes. Sheet wash off the hill behind my house was ankle deep. I changed my landscaping due to that storm to redirect that potential wash hazard.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Under the Spinning Monster

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Gate to the Fire

Gate to the Fire
Gate to the Fire

Gate to the Fire

So you want to go fight a fire eh? It’s not a Disney™ ride. I believe that I have never been more covered in dirt, sweat and soot more than by fighting a good grass fire. Just recently I took two very newbie guys out to fight our recent on ranch fire a few weeks ago as this posts. Trial by fire. They had no idea but hung in there….

I have been totally soaked, over heated and generally bounced to death. Driving a 1000 gallons of water in a 37000 pound 6 wheel drive truck to the scene is usually bumpy across the backcountry trails. Some of the toughest jobs on the planet is the professional smoke jumper game. The “hot spotters” are an amazing group of people. Olympic Athletes with a purpose all. The crews that come into clean up a fire area are careful, hard working and generally in a great attitude about what they do. God bless all first responders.

I don’t think the fire crews are generally worried about changing the way they work to suit the new “norms”. On the fire line, there are a few more considerations that somehow seem more immediate of a concern. You suck a lot of smoke if you dive in front of a grass fire with a big truck full of spraying water. I have found that behind the flame front it’s WAY too hot with the ground radiating heat as well as the flame. In front of the flame, you don’t want your truck or your pump to stop working. I have driven straight into an advancing flame front numerous times. I’ve also seen them so tall that I didn’t go through it.

Grass fires are a way of life up here on the grassy prairie Wyotana area. Sparsely populated with miles between ranches, a grass fire can go un-noticed until it’s almost out of control. A fast local response saves the gov’t thousands of dollars in pay and travel time. We do our best along with most of our neighbors that can. The same is true across the west.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Gate to the Fire

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Updrafts and DownDrafts Mesocyclone

Updrafts and DownDrafts Mesocyclone
Updrafts and DownDrafts Mesocyclone

Updrafts and DownDrafts Mesocyclone

In this twilight dusk capture, you can see both the updraft inverted funnel on the right feed warm air into the MASSIVE Mesocylone to my east. It spans the Montana/Wyoming border in this shot straight east. The Cold air coming down over the top left is streaking down to the front of the storm where all the action is. The rain is first as the top of the storm leans forward and the rain falls with the cold downdraft in front. As you go further and further into the storm, the strength of the updraft increases. Cold…. Thusly the hail falling gets bigger and bigger toward the rear of the storm just in front of the updraft region.

I re-emphasize… I’ve never seen such a good example of this before and I do this a bit. Far right frame you can see the inverted vortex of the up draft coiling into the storm. I watched it roil and rotate slowly snaking up into the storm. This sucks warm air up and the streaks are cold air coming back down. This is the second image I’ve posted from this timeline.

I’ve got a few other captures from this storm still working their way into my work flow. They will appear every few weeks I suspect. I’ve never seen this so well defined. So from the north west side of a growing to mature Mesocyclone, you will have the most interesting photos if the lighting is right. I will ALWAYS work thunderstorms in the evening or morning because of the lighting. We got 1/10th of an inch last night with the lightning storm. Kept everything from burning I think.

I heard lightning at 10PM last night and was going to go up hill until it started raining. Life in the Local Volunteer fire watch… (It’s called survival in these conditions. ).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Updrafts and DownDrafts Mesocyclone

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Comet Seeds Falling from Above

Comet Seeds Falling from Above
Comet Seeds Falling from Above

Comet Seeds Falling from Above

Yes, Comet Neowise images continue to make it into my work flow. It takes me a week from click to publish minimum these days. I suspect there will be a few more posted as I get to them.

A favorite Antique piece of farm history on ranch is the Deering Seeder. I’ve taken many twilight and sunset/rise photos with this customer. It sit’s very well for photos. Nothing like a toddler. Patient it is. It has been sitting here since the last naked eye comet passed by in 1996. It’s probably 80 -100 years old. It’s seen a few Comets in it’s day. I’ve worked 4 photographically but this is the first one with digital cameras. The others were all film camera work. This is the only comet I could see the two tails with.

I worked this “out of nowhere” new comet for many hours over several nights and morning. That is a long time but these exposures take my gear about a minute each to take. With 30 second exposures and 30 seconds of processing time in the camera afterwards, a minute length each photo session is a long slog.

Photographic Musings:

I’m really fond of close / far perspectives. Here 40 yards and 68,000,000 miles are the close / far figures. The lighting for this kind of work is delivered by painting the scene with flashlights over the period of the exposure. With 30 seconds to sweep the beam around, you can fill in all the important foreground objects. Getting both close and far in focus means high F-stop numbers. The result of high F-stop is deep focus yes. But: It’s a double edge sword taking light making it into the camera away. But then you have a long exposure to compensate for that. Edge of the possible photographic envelope. That is unless you are star tracking…..but how do you keep the seeder from blurring ????? 😜 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Comet Seeds Falling from Above

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Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise
Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

When I first looked at this Snag up literally on the Montana/Wyoming border, I thought it was covered with lichen. In fact there is some orange lichen on this snag. It has been here for a long time, survived a hundred years under the clouds. MOST of the orance patches are NOT lichen, they are SCARS from the up to 3 inch hail that went over this spot for about 1/2 an hour back 3 weeks ago. If you weren’t under cover for this storm, you had a bad day. We had a bad day and we WERE undercover. I can imagine the panic deer must have encountered from this monster hail storm.

I’m pretty sure the old saying, “It’s gonna leave a mark” applies to this storm. As far as I know nothing has died around here that I know about from it. I haven’t been everywhere yet though. Longer it goes the less likely I’ll find any casualties. I haven’t noticed any vultures circling.

This was taken the morning of the afternoon that I finished it. I really like the grain of this fallen soldier of the high prairie. Living 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator has environmental attributes of both places at times. I’ve learned to go inside when it’s time. Wild things don’t usually have that choice but I’m thinking that if there was something to get under, it was already occupied about that time lol.

Oh yeah, Nice sunrise, smoke from the fire 40 miles over my shoulder was still lofting into the sky. IT’s fire season and it’s going to be a long summer.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Backcountry Hail Damage Sunrise

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Forest Fire Sunset Show

Forest Fire Sunset Show
Forest Fire Sunset Show

Forest Fire Sunset Show

This happened 8 days ago as this posts. One of the first pictures I took in this timeline. I’m thinking I have about 18 images I’m going to finish eventually from this event. I was perfectly positioned by a coincidence of cosmic proportions lol. Of the 360 degrees on the compass, the sun setting behind a forest fire …. I’ve never seen such from this angle sun passing through. It isn’t something I’ve ever experienced.

For you Pariedolia sufferers, there is an angry Micky mouse trying to eat a landing bat for sure.😜 That pall of smoke TOTALLY blocked the sun behind it. The eventual play of light from this event was spectacular as you will see as the captures from this timeline make it into my workflow. Heck, this is pretty much a unique vision. ….

That is the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Homestead on the lower left of the frame. It makes a good scale for the HUGE WIDE image above. This was from my 10mm widest lens I own kind of optic. The top of the frame is past the zenith of the sky and the width is something like 130 degrees . That fire is Straight West of my ranch so Montana is literally on the right with Wyoming on the left. I’m standing in Wyoming for this capture but not by much (100 yards or so)

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Forest Fire Sunset Show

/ / / / /

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Under The Spinning Mesocyclone

Under The Spinning Mesocyclone
Under The Spinning Mesocyclone

Under The Spinning Mesocyclone

It’s dark I know. It WAS dark at the time. This was a MASSIVE spinning Mesocyclone over our heads with the curved apron off of the tower in the turning around the corner. I would estimate this was over three states of Montana/ South Dakota and Wyoming. South Dakota is 90 miles to the left of frame. The business end of this was to the left of the frame about 1/2 way to South Dakota. Long Story Short, this was a big one… ⛈

This part of the storm was collapsing and loosing some of the input into the system. These big systems rotate broadly around like a small hurricane. They have some really serious consequences at times if your at the wrong place of the storm. This unique view from under this monster was a matter of luck or unluck depending on where you are. Residents in the high plains roll the dice each time one of these fellows moves overhead. We just had a serious hail storm damaging many outside surfaces on the ranch.

Hail, Dry Lightning, tornados, straightline winds are all dangers from these. We had 4 inches of rain in less than an hour about a decade ago. It was called a 500 year rain. I personally suspect they are more common than that but there are no rain gages over most of this country lol. Hard to measure a storm that sits still for an hour dumping rain over one spot when the spot is only a few miles across. This country is thinly populated with weather stations that report to the Natl’ Weather service. If you google DW-1087… pick the Bliss Ranch reference and you will see weather conditions here on the ranch.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Under The Spinning Mesocyclone

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Milky Way Over Gillette

Milky Way Over Gillette
Milky Way Over Gillette

Milky Way Over Gillette

There are infinite possible stories about this 25 second time exposure with a very wide 12mm lens. I cropped the darker sides off to give it a square aspect to 18″.

According to NASA, this location (if we turn off our compounds lights which are the blue Stadium LED’s we use for our place) is as dark as the North Atlantic Ocean. Certainly ranking up there for dark skies here at only 4000 feet. The Milky Way spiral arms exist every night. Even above you folks living lower or near population. It’s amazing our eyes can discern most of this but the sensitivity of these modern cameras is just tremendous. It just takes a lot of shutter time to catch it.

As you might have assumed, the twin Blue Glows over my signature are our ranch compound lights as seen from two miles away and over the high ridge between us. The orange glow is a proper exposure of the light pollution from Gillette Wyoming. What an interesting perspective from so far away. I’m parked in Montana with Gillette being some 60 crow miles south of me. The light pollution of all the sodium lights there causes the flow. It’s very faint but the longer exposures will bring out colors well. For those that like star colors, many are in this shot. The Comet Neowise was way over my shoulder at the same time naked eye visible.

You can clearly locate yourself with this one. Sagittarius the Teapot is the low constellation down in the light pollution. Just pouring some tea I think. Jupiter is the bright Planet. Saturn is the less bright planet to it’s left. On the full sized file I have you can clearly see the moons around Jupiter. This reduced resolution social media .jpg has nothing on the 200 times bigger original file. There is just a SLIGHT star motion track on this pushing the envelope for the lens I was using.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Milky Way Over Gillette

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Neowise Wide Field Imaging

Neowise Wide Field Imaging
Neowise Wide Field Imaging

Neowise Wide Field Imaging

NASA’s Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) mission first discovered this icy visitor on March 27, 2020. So Neowise the Comet was Named after the space craft that discovered it. It used its two infrared cameras, which are sensitive to the heat signatures given off by the icy core of the eventual comet as the Sun started to turn up the heat.. Many come as close as 62,000,000 (62 Million) close to the earth this pass around the sun for it. The NEOWISE space Craft is going to re-enter our atmosphere as it’s mission ends and will be replaced by the next generation machinery.

This Comet is a surprise visitor at our door. It’s orbit actually brings it inside the orbit of Mercury. That is a very rough ride for a chunk of ice and rock about 3 miles in diameter. It was super-heated (as it were versus deep space) causing a very good display of our celestial wheel turning.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s a naked eye comet and the brightest in over 20 years. Comet Hale-Bopp in 1995 – 1996 which I worked extensively with a film camera from a dark sky location near Jackson Hole. By the time this posts on the 24th of July, Neowise (the comet) will be pointing it’s tail(s) to the left. Look under Ursa Major in the north Sky around the top of Leo Minor. It will be getting dimmer quickly. I’ve only had 2 opportunities to work it. About 5 hours total work under the night sky around here is a change as I tend to sleep between the evening sunset and morning sunrise. What I’m saying is I don’t do a lot of night photography any more with my current schedule.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Neowise Wide Field Imaging

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Double Red Rainbow

Double Red Rainbow
Double Red Rainbow

Double Red Rainbow

I recently posted another from this timeline. Real Color. I’ve seen no better red double than this sunset back show capture before. I wish I had a chopper to go up about 300 feet though. Seeing this as a 360 circle would be a bucket list item but only if I have my cameras with me…. Intentionally maneuvered the reflective back of a “Right Turn Clyde” Sign dead center as it was just right to reflect the sunlight directly in the center of the rainbow.

I have this thing for holographic red dot sights on carbines. Not that that tendency had anything to do with this composition lol👁 . If you’ve ever used a good Trijicon™ holographic rifle sight, some of the reticles look just like this. The reflective sign is exactly at the “Antipode” of the sun’s position in the sky behind me. Good google word for the evening… 🤔 👀 📷

So why is a “Red Rainbow” rare. Well it can only occur at the perfect time of the day under specific circumstances. Mere minutes maybe if the photographer is lucky. I worked this with 3 cameras in those few minutes. Water can only refract (not reflect) a rainbow using the color of light the situation provides to the rain fall curtain. At the trailing edge of that larger area of rain, the deep cranberry is also rare. The partially occluded sunset behind me is acting as both refraction plus reflection here. The 22 degree rainbow is obvious but the other red is reflecting off the water falling directly coloring the clouds and sky. Both phenomena are involved here.

Really it’s all about the source of light which traveling through dirty atmosphere (not implying pollution, could just be moisture). The red light is the furthest traveled light through our atmosphere. The cranberry color is literally my favorite. This is as close as I can get this to how I saw it. I could have easily lightened the lower grass in the digital darkroom. That’s not how it was. It was very dark just like this with just a spotlight of light for me to capture. Thank you mother nature.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Double Red Rainbow

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Red Rainbows Rare Appearance

Red Rainbows Rare Appearance
Red Rainbows Rare Appearance

Red Rainbows Rare Appearance

Technically this is a backshow of a spotlighting veiled sunset passing Belt of Venus Pink light. Such being refracted back as a red rainbow. The lower dark blue shadow through the curtain of precipitation, is the shadow of the horizon. I am in that shadow as is the ground going up the hill. (The sun had set and the only light was from other twilight lit clouds) . So this 2 second time exposure shows the dark landscape as you would suspect after sunset. Photorealist photographers are like that lol . The pink light spotlighting is above the horizon line on this east view. The rain curtain acts as a projector screen with the rainbow aligning with the 22 degree arc from the center of the rainbow.

Of course you know all rainbows could be complete circles if viewed from the air…. I’ve never seen one except by others. I don’t fly very well with an overactive inner ear.

SO, a very specific sequence of event have to occur for a red rainbow to form. A regular rainbow with a standard ROYGBIV light color spread. Therefore the water droplets there have a full spectrum of light to refract back at you. Each light color bending a little differently than the one adjacent on the chart. This spreads out the white light into it’s individual hues into the rainbow.

At this late point of the night, only pink light survives the long gauntlet through the atmosphere at the earths surface. The low angle light being without most of its GVIB portion of the spectrum. With only red light to refract, you get a red rainbow. The timing of the precipitation falling has to coincide with the exact timing of the sunset to get these. This is by far the best red rainbow I’ve ever seen even in others photos. I’m sure they are out there.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Red Rainbows Rare Appearance

071420C
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Backcountry Rainbows at Sunset

Backcountry Rainbows at Sunset
Backcountry Rainbows at Sunset

Backcountry Rainbows at Sunset

Just a tinge of double on the Wyoming leg (right) of this late day backcountry scene. In the scheme of things, this rainbow spans across the border to Montana on the left. Looking slightly south east from my viewpoint just barely in Montana. Hanging out on the border watching a string of storms move just to my east is a good use of time. Strings of storms happen up here occasionally. None of them individually amount to anything serious typically but together someone got some good rain. I found this particular afternoon quite a target rich environment for landscape photographer. Lots of interesting things going on with the weather around here this time of year. (WIDE angle lens).

These were not severe storms during this timeline in early July, 2020 . They were much needed bringing precipitation to a drought stricken area. Last year, a time a plenty, this year…. not so much. The grass was beaten down by the July 5th hail storm. IT’s going to be a hard year on many things. Hard to find rainbows too in a drought. I like the metaphor though. Searching for “Rainbows in a Drought”. Sort of like “finding solutions in a desert” if you tend toward the punny side of life. It’s a genetic defect in my family but I try to stay away from puns too much in these musings. Please don’t get me started…. 😜

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Backcountry Rainbows at Sunset

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Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania

Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania
Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania

Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania

The power and magnitude of these massive high prairie cyclones is incredible. Here it is visible over 1/2 it’s girth. The power wrapped up in the slowly growing spinning monster is equivalent to an atom bomb. That power is expended over hundreds of miles of travel. Fortunately this is usually across huge areas of low population density. When these go over big cities, there is a lot of damage.

About a 5 days ago as I type this, one of this (not this one) traveled right over our ranch and homestead. My wife has been spending her “greater” time at home gardening all spring. We just put up a 60 x 20 foot covered greenhouse this spring.

The damage these storms can do to you of course depends on the intensity and WHICH part of the storm hits you. Then how long it stays over you is a big deal. We has a LOT of golf ball hail plus SOME 3 inch (almost small baseball from our storm. That was bad enough. So it sat over us for 1/2 an hour ebbing and flowing. Some of the biggest stones were near the end too . By then I was walking around with 3 inches of heavy folded canvas for an umbrella. I was dealing with emergencies best I could. I have film of ice balls breaking through a fiberglass roof panel.

Several careers have trained me to deal with emergencies. It becomes more than a training scenario when it happened literally 360 degrees around you lolol. Hunker down, take some images and start damage assessment. Bring in the Pros…

I have some more images from the hail storm but it’s hard to get to all of them with my normal load PLUS starting the repair. They will work into my timeline’s workflow as they do.

Yes my 2020 Ford F150 raptor was damaged by this. It’s a tough truck and short of a lot of small dents on the upper surfaces mostly, only has a broken drivers mirror, a few cracked light fixtures and a hole punched through a cowling by the wipers. It’s kind of liberating in fact. I’m not so worried about scratching it somewhere lol …. 😜 Now I will see what it can do (laughing maniacally).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Mesocyclone Wall Cloud Mania

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Crepuscular Spotlights Dramatic Landscape

Crepuscular Spotlights Dramatic Landscape
Crepuscular Spotlights Dramatic Landscape

Crepuscular Spotlights Dramatic Landscape

From near the pass to Rockypoint Wyoming, looking West towards the Bighorns . You can actually see the distant range 130 miles distant on the horizon. You have to know what you are looking for on the full screen version of this to see them.

Rain Showers were migrating through the valley in front of me. Deep but irregular edged broken clouds ahead of a blowy mist from the rain just off frame is responsible. It was sprinkling where the extremely bright spot lightings on the left, appeared like an ghosted version of a badly edited image. They are legitimate though with this image being very true to life that late afternoon here in the high grounds.

I just love images where there are no fences, houses, power lines. My preference is for having no artifacts in my landscapes from human machinations of our environment. I see just a smidgen of graveled county road off the distance low left frame durn it.. Of course the close / far perspective rule is in operation. (Photographic Rule #24: always have a close object in your long landcapes).

Spot lighting in a Wyotana sky is not a rare thing but the extent of this 360 degree crown sky was quite the attention grabber to this photographer. This scene is produced here as I experienced it though my eyes. I saw more detail in the trees than does this level of dynamic range in the technology I use. Having said that… This is a WAY wide dynamic range capture from the brightest bright to the darkest dark. That is what a really good camera can do if you drive it properly. Your equipment will make a difference in your photography I point out. This was what I consider a tough photographic environment to operate in. Enormous variations of light intensities is hard for current camera tech to deal with.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Crepuscular Spotlights Dramatic Landscape

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Shelf Cloud Snaking North

Shelf Cloud Snaking North
Shelf Cloud Snaking North

Shelf Cloud Snaking North

Sometimes little ephermeral ponds for even mid-summer. Late that particular afternoon a line of storms was moving to my left and this Shelf cloud was putting on a show. 

Shelf clouds are not to be confused with wall clouds which are typically symptoms of a severe often rotating individual cell. This one was at least 60 miles long from my perspective continuing well back over my head almost to the horizon. I have the components for a really really really Tall image, maybe 12 to 2 in this width. Needless to say this was very impressive to be under. I wasn’t in the best place for a close far to using what I had….. 

Must be good water😂 the cattle have been drinking it right? I think that water is mostly melted hail. Lots of water is collected over the 80 acre drainage that feeds this little water hole. Couldn’t be anything living in that I’m sure…….? 👀 It’s a dry summer. The grass here was just trampled by a hard hail storm July 5th. Late in the afternoon, it flattened pretty much everything that didn’t have a woody stem. Most trees were heavily cut up by the up to 3 inch stones. The dry year grass crop with was terrible to start with. It is all flat now along the strip of the hail path. I really do respect this weather up here. It’s all business when it’s active. . Crop insurance is an important consideration in any business plan. 

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Shelf Cloud Snaking North

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Storm over the Border

Storm over the Border
Storm over the Border

Storm over the Border

I love to work that group of trees for the perspectives from that high ridge. Certainly I’m glad I’m not over there now. Seeing areas you frequent struck by lightning from a distance is a good thing. Better than from up close and personal lolol. This is taken from right at one mile away from the hill that his being struck. This is a very wide angle image showing more of the storms perspective.

These clouds were roiling with the majority of the precipitation behind behind this leading edge. I was surprised by the hail the other day because I don’t have cell signal to give me current radar information. I saw a rain shaft coming and didn’t realize it was full of 2 inch hail lolol.

We are indeed very remote up here. I’m actually going to research radar in vehicles or somewhat to get internet to my vehicle. I do have a communications tower so it’s a matter of how, not if. Might be able to do it for certain spots on the open prairie but not the whole thing. I have internet at my communication tower but that is kind of a silly place to be in a lightning storm.

This was much closer to sunset than others from this timeline. Mostly the clouds above are the only sunlight left. The landscape is illuminated by the lightning bolt plus the ambient lighting from the partially occluded twilight ongoing over my shoulder.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Storm over the Border

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Sneaky Pete Perspective Sunset

Sneaky Pete Perspective Sunset
Sneaky Pete Perspective Sunset

Sneaky Pete Perspective Sunset

I just love it when architecture aligns with Astronomy and Physics. It makes my sense of proportion much more in an agreement with my position in 3-D time and space. Close / Far Perspectives are a gift when they appear to me. If I move a few inches in either direction, the effect is not there. The goal is to set up the symmetry just slightly offset. I would work this sky for an hour if it would last that long. Holy Moly!!

Photographic Musings:

Really close focus wide angle lenses are so fun. Seeing how far I can pull the depth of field toward the camera in under such low lighting conditions make for an interesting photo. All of the physics that rules the natural world controls my activities and success/failures in achieving such close focus. These colors are as I remember them with the yellow sunny part of the image being “Slightly” over exposed. I trade off things like details in areas of super bright for details out the dark area of the photo. The ability to see details in BOTH dark AND bright at the same time is called Dynamic Range. The Human Eye has a dynamic range of 21 F-stops. The best camera I use (Sony Alpha 7R4) has 15 F-stops. Now your milage will vary with your camera with many cheaper cameras working well enough with 12 F-Stops.

Dynamic Range is definitely something I look at when I’m evaluating Cameras. How close a lens will focus is something I look at when buying lenses.

The wind was indeed blowing steady for Wyotana at this moment.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Sneaky Pete Perspective Sunset

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Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft

Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft
Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft

Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft

Please take this full screen as it is one of the most complex storm systems I’ve ever photographed. “Holy Crap” came out of my mouth watching this along with a few other interesting mixed metaphors.

Starting with the Lightning bolt, it actually started up higher in the next deck up where it dives through the cloud onward toward the ground. It is following the same rain shaft that is causing the slightly visible rainbow. This was at sunset, more clouds behind me hiding the sun from the ground I stand on but not the high clouds. It was fairly dark being under this monster.

I could clearly see air rushing up that tunnel/horn funnel (above the bolt) up and left into that billowing cloud mass above. A giant vacuum cleaner in effect. This seemed to be as a very large storm though the worst of it went east of us. I had good elevation during this lightning storm which of course is hazardous duty even in a vehicle. Being up on the ridges is why I have such a good view. I am not on the “highests” ridge around if you understand my logic. When I eventually get struck, probably the truck will protect me though vehicle wiring has been known to be damaged by electrical strikes.

As pictured, the weather looks nuts over there in and past Rockypoint Wyoming. The continued north into Montana the night of the 5th of June. HOWEVER, just the apron of this storm covered well over a 100 mile diameter circle so it effected a huge area. The apron of this monster was as big as I’ve seen. I watched this big spinning top of a storm on radar moving here all the way from Casper. It took about 8 hours to make the trip. If it had been 15 minutes later there would have been more sunset colors in this up higher in the clouds.

I have never seen weather like this in my life. Cloud shapes I’m very much into . I am a long term Pareidolia endowed artist/photographer with a Paleontological background. Looks like a Bellerophon snail crawling around to me. To say this was impressive watching this up on the ridge tops there would be an understatement. 📸

Title: Mesocyclone Vortex Updraft