These three Great Blue Herons are a mated pair and a third. The pair is busy building a nest, the third is waiting for it’s mate that is off fishing. Perched in their nest for the next few months there. Soon the yet to leaf Cottonwood Tree supporting them will conceal them. Soon hidden behind the canopy of this 50 foot tall tree. They have an amazing view up there until then. Sitting above a lake high in the Montana / Wyoming borderlands.
The Great Blue Heron is a wide spread species ranging to exotic places like the Caribbean, the Galapago’s Islands and the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch lolol. Now why several mating pairs (6) hang out up here about 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole, or in the Galapagos….hummm Choices. 😂 Actually there are a lot of frogs and fish in the waters up here and I don’t see them skinny lol. They usually raise 5 or 6 chicks and head out.
The rookery is adjacent to a tall grassy hill such that I can get an angle at the tree top level. This from about 150 -300 yards away depending on the angle. I have some serious good images of Blue Herons taken over the years both sunrise and sunset. This wetlands is one of a few on our remote highland ranch. The lake is a spring fed ponded behind an early 1900’s dam. Water from the Fox Hill Sandstone 200 feet below seeping through a crack to the surface. I’ve never seen that lake dry.
The Exposed Volcanic Necks in this image are all related in space and time. Once deeply buried volcanic conduits to the surface. Each of the 4 peaks stands eroded at the surface. These pipes carried magma to the surface as lava/ash in four volcanos popping off at the surface . The rock we see here froze solid in that neck and cooled. We know this was deep as the column of rock in the Devils Tower cooled very slowly allowing the columns of rock the National Monument is famous for. Being our nations first national Monument is the moniker that Devil’s Tower and surround area carry. Wyoming and all that
Being 40 miles away from the tow and the buttes somewhat closer, this becomes a terribly long shot to actually be able to resolve the columns on the tower. There is SOME columnar jointing in the Missouri Buttes. Emplaced closely in time and space does not say they were coterminous in their eruptions. . We don’t know their exact schedule.
Phenolitic Porphyry is the name of the rock. It cooled into big 6 foot in diameter crystals up the length of the tower. I used one of several possibilities all related to volcanic activity to describe the tower as volcanic necks. There are multiple configurations and possible variations in this discussion I won’t get into here but feel free to google devils tower origin to discover more.
Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, NE Campbell Country
Having a Photobomber sneak into “Fledgeling Great Blue Herons” was a plus. I was focusing on the two above and in comes the head on the lower left frame. Curiosity got him in the photo lol. I appreciate him extending his neck as the tree was in his way. They can lift their necks up so high after all. Remember these little guys stand up to 5 feet tall and weigh 4-5 pounds. Masters of their domain they are 😎
This was tough light but I’m pleased with the opportunity to catch these guys before they migrated away from the rookery following their parents south. This image was captured early summer and the cottonwoods were fully leafed. I often loose track of the nests as the trees fill in with leaves . Thusly the cover over the nests keeps the privacy curtain up rather well. Not much assistance to me but I’m sure the birds like it.
These guys were up getting some sun. Mostly they had their feathers here but they were still waiting for their first flight. Parents were due to feed them shortly. Breeding/Nesting in the high branches of Cottonwoods is a common thing to see up here. The Cottonwoods line water ways and courses in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana. Tall and safe from any climbing creatures, they set up a home perched way up there. There were 6 nests inhabited this year in our rookery.
Here I have posted a very well developed “Belt of Venus” . NE Wyoming version. Lots of Ice in the air…..Backshow from the sun that just went down over my shoulder.
This is the view from the Pass at RockyPoint Wyoming showing the 4 volcanic necks. The debris from them being eroded (sediments) are draping off them making an apron of debris to the relatively hard peaks. The Devil’s Tower (left) is the best known volcanic neck in this complex
. The other three peaks were emplace around the same time as the towers rocks were cooling in the deeply buried neck of an ancient volcano.
“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming
The Missouri Buttes AKA the Three sisters are in fact 4 buttes. Hard to see all 4 unless your on the top of Devils Tower though or in a plane. Two of the buttes rise slightly lower topographically than the Tower, while the remaining two are actually higher. Devil’s Tower was formed from the same type of rock type as the Missouri Buttes. Rocks there are classified as “phonolite porphyry” by geologists.
There is some agreement among geologist (rare thing lol) that these volcanic necks were from the same intrusion of magma. That event created the hard magmatic origin rocks that obviously later resisted erosion better than the surrounding sediments. Thus they stick out of the surrounding landscape that washed away.
Geologists think magmatic injection, lead to these erosional remnants (mountains). All these peaks rocks were formed during closely related volcanic timelines it appears. Although some columnar jointing is evident in the Little Missouri Buttes, they lack the distinctive appearance and magnificent grandeur of Devils Tower which cooled over a longer period of time allow the giant columnar crystals of Dark Porphyry. These eroded exposed volcanic necks dominate the landscape with their presence here in the NorthEastern Corner of the state. This is almost entirely in Crook County but I’m standing in Campbell County Wyoming.
I’ve been trying to get this shot for 20 years. It was bright to say the least. A totally unclouded alpenglow sky (atmospheric ice). The sun is 93 million miles out and the ranch is only 130 miles out from the Big Horn’s Ridge line. The black Ridge (known as the “Red Hills” at the bottom is 40 miles out from my camera lens. I’m at the same elevation as the Red Hills where I’m standing for this capture. “Big Horn Mountain’s Sunset”
Rare (ish) confluence of Events, Photographic musings:
Catching a sunset on a 13,000 (Thirteen Thousand) feet high ridge from 130 miles away is a matter of proper positioning, timing and gear. I had to travel 10 miles south to get this image, I set up on early on tripods two long lenses, (800 and 1200mm). *This image came from a new Sony Alpha 7R4 which gives me a 60 meg .jpg out of the camera) The sun will set in the notch on the left in two days from the same location. If I slowly move north to my ranch, I can delay the travel time down the range by changing the angle between the sun, the range and myself… I have never seen this until the other night. Close but not on the peaks..
Tough to get Weather Window to the distant peaks.
Weather is the most unpredicatable variable. I get to see the Big Horns from my vantage point a few times a week. There is always be clear days… Having said that, I haven’t had a window to this angle of sunset through the weather (clouds) for this in 20 years of living here. Usually there are obscuring moisture, clouds, ice or otherwise no view exists of the Bighorns. This particular day was a VERY clear day all day. I have big long photos of several directions from one of the highest points around here. Behind me there was a WONDERFUL Belt of Venus (BOV) against the Missouri Buttes and Devils Tower Landscape. I did some time exposures of the pink BOV sky over that volcanic neck complex this evening after the sunset. Stay tuned for that.
A good quality 800mm lens (bigger than 800mm lenses at this distance make for multiple photo composites. This is a full sized 2×3 foot print from one image. . It would be bigger if it were composite as in a 2:1 aspect instead of a simple landscape 2×3. You might want some neutral density filters in front of your lenses unless your using a Sony Alpha or other similar large format sensors. I will testify for the Sony surviving direct sun images. I don’t profess to know how your camera will survive so best safe than sorry. Don’t let the sun burn a hole in your cameras sensor. .
Color. It’s hard to know ahead of time (at the click) how an image is going to finish. This is a rediculous light environment for any camera. Under this much bright light and glare through atmospheric ice, it usually will finish in burnt umber, crimson or orange. This one did the crimson route. No one can look into this scene with the naked eye and tell me what it looks like as it would blind you. 15 f-stops of dynamic range on this Sony Alpha 7R4 camera back.. 🤔😲 The human eye has 21. No filters in front of this lens. Zip. Most consumer cameras have 10, 11 maybe 12 fstops.
This was captured with a Mirrorless camera and I was looking at this scene on video so there is no direct light path to my eye. Do not try this with your equipment if it is a small sensor mirrorless camera not rated for this OR it is a standard DSLR that has a direct path to your eye from the sun. It will be the last thing you see in that eye with an 800mm telephoto gathering light and focusing it on your retina. 😎 Protect your eye. Your photography will end if they do. Title “Big Horn Mountain’s Sunset”
This 8 layer landscape ladder of the Big Horn Mountains Riding 13000 feet above sea level as seen from my ranch 130 miles away. I’m up on the Montana/Wyoming border to the northeast of the highest parts of the ranch. I get a good weather window to see these weekly but not many of those are this good. This was an 800mm rested telephoto shot from a high ridge. The grass is about 1/4 mile out, the first treed ridge (the Red Hills) is 40 miles out for an idea of scale here.
I took a trip to Sheridan last week by the time you see the images….. Many good photos from that journey all backcountry for the 119 miles (3 hours) trip on gravel. You can’t easily get there from here by highway.