I don’t see a lot of really strong “Belt of Venus” Pink even in the winter but it’s out there if ice is in the air. At As the long traveled reddish light hits the projector screen the ice collectively makes, that ice glows the color of the light. Just before sunrise, the blue darker clouds barely above the mountains on those clouds is the shadow of the horizon on them. That shadow “zone” will turn pink as the shadow drops with the sun rising on the opposite horizon. The clouds above shadowed by the cloud deck topping the sun slit also on the opposite horizon. So just a bar of sunlight making it to cinema screen.
This is that moment in space and time when the red light of the ice filtered morning sun, touches the far mountains. As far as backshows go, this is a good example of that variety of Alpenglow. (Belt of Venus). The planet Venus is Often in the pink some mornings. The pink belt surrounds the sky behind a sunset or sunrise if there is a LOT of ice in the air. The best Alpenglow displays are early winter based on my experience. Atmospheric ice requires temps obviously below freezing and at 4000 feet in elevation, that isn’t that hard to do. I’ve seen good Alpenglow like mid-summer before. It’s off season appearance is a fairly common event but it usually isn’t this intense. Interesting year.
That HUGE butte in silhouette(called “W” butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark. Seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border 35 miles distant. I’m standing in Wyoming. You can actually see the communications towers that are up there. An 18 inch wide tower at 35 miles is what is called “resolution”. I love how 1200 mm telephotos CRUSH perspective. Really high end camera backs give you very high megapixel count plus high dynamic range. The higher the megapixel count, the bigger you can print the image.
I seldom see naturally totally oversaturated clouds without me setting my camera incorrectly but the sky really was this color. I mention that because it’s looks very harlequin and un natural/odd to me. This is indeed what was down range of my lens that morning. I work very hard to get scenes to be a reproduction of what I experienced live real time. Looking back and forth between my video screen and the actual scene on almost every landscape/sunrise image is a good habit.
My process is to expose ONLY the highlights properly so as not to loose detail in them. I can worry about shadow detail in the digital darkroom. Interestingly, there was no detail in those crimsons back/bottom clouds to begin with. Nature doing the oversaturation is not that common in my experience. These cameras can usually look right through it to the detail hidden in the saturated area. IT wasn’t there to see from where I was…
When I see high contrast scenes I hunker down and try to bring it in. High F-stop diffractions and silhouettes dominate the scene on a remote ridge line. The backcountry is full of an infinite number of little zen like scenes at any one time. I find that all I have to do is be there and mother nature will provide. Smoke in the atmosphere is a wonderful thing for photography.
I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines.
Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. If your buying gear soon…. Mirrorless Cameras: I’m not blind now because I look through the a Mirrorless cameras eyepiece which has a video screen behind the glass so no direct path of light to blind you. Newer mirrorless cameras do this video thing. Older Designed DSLR’s don’t show you your image until AFTER YOU CLICK. Mirrorless Cameras show you your settings changes live on screen and you get what you see when you click not after.
If your shopping for cameras, I would tell you to buy mirrorless. Particularly if you work outside with cameras. Studio it’s not critical either way. Don’t look into the sun with a DSLR camera.
There are nice twilights and then there are ones like this one. It’s almost Art if it wasn’t absolutely real as I saw the event. The Golden Alpenglow derived from the ice in the air, was resultant from suspended ice in the air. The longest day of the summer (Solstice) and ice was acting as a projector screen. Filtering some of the light passing through to spotlight the sun’s long traveled red rays on the cloud deck above. This dramatic opening act was just a preview of the sunrise to come. Sometimes these morning shows last well over an hour…. This one was around that. One hour is FOREVER in my world…. 😜
The air at my back was moving with a definite chill. Mid-June is an odd time to have to wear a good jacket but at 5:30 AM with a breeze, dress for the part. I have found this location that I call Sunrise Ridge). Such is “Fairly” easy to get to. It’s about a mile of bumpy two track roads. The journey takes me past several Game Trail Cameras thusly I had ulterior motives. Some mornings as this are so beautiful for so long I end up with 8 or 9 hundred images for the timeline. I’m sure I surpassed 1000 with the various camera/lens combinations I used to study this drama. The longer the show, the more clicking that occurs amazingly. 😃
This is landscape close/far perspective version of a similar image I have in portrait image aspect. It was taken at a different place in the timeline. These skies morph by the minute. I call this backcountry ridge “Sunset Ridge” for it’s awe inspiring views of the eastern horizon covering the Big Skies of BOTH Montana and Wyoming. There is even a little South AND North Dakota there in the lower Golden Alpenglow.
Created is a classic Alpenglow Gradient with a fully involved complex cloud deck. I watched this Saturday the 20th’s morning with 3PM Mountain time roughly being the actual solstice. That is when the sun was over directly head of the Tropic of Cancer at 23.5 degrees north Latitude. This location is for all intents and purposes exactly at 45 degrees North Latitude. This was the longest day of the year.
It was a beautiful morning. Left early mid-nautical twilight as it takes a while to get to this spot. It’s a civilized drive with a little over a mile of fairly smooth two track trail. A few miles of county gravel to start. It was cool this am in the 40’s with a stiff breeze. This kind of capture is handheld walking a ridge line I could park “Clever Girl” within walking distance of.
I am NOT used to 40 degree windy weather. There is this thing called windchill that works it’s way into the “hoodie” I had on. Just for your minds eye, I am usually in full camo dress as if I was hunting wildlife. As technically I am with the cameras lol. I would rather blend in than not.
I call this backcountry ridge “Sunset Ridge” for it’s awe inspiring views of the eastern horizon covering the Big Skies of BOTH Montana and Wyoming. There is even a little South AND North Dakota there in the lower Golden Alpenglow. A classic Alpenglow Gradient with a fully involved complex cloud deck. I watched this Saturday the 20th’s morning with 3PM Mountain time roughly being the actual solstice. That is when the sun is over directly head of the Tropic of Cancer at 23.5 degrees north Latitude. This location is for all intents and purposes exactly at 45 degrees North Latitude. This will be the longest day of the year. It was a beautiful morning.
Left early mid-nautical twilight as it takes a while to get to this spot. It’s a civilized drive with a little over a mile of fairly smooth two track trail. A few miles of county gravel to start. It was cool this am in the 40’s with a stiff breeze. This kind of capture is handheld walking a ridge line I could park “Clever Girl” within walking distance of. I am NOT used to 40 degree windy weather. There is this thing called windchill that works it’s way into the “hoodie” I had on. Just for your minds eye, I am usually in full camo dress as if I was hunting wildlife. As technically I am with the cameras lol. I would rather blend in than not.
This late in the summer, the sun sets about as far north as it ever does. Here the sunset at Summer Solstice, the inclination of our earths axis has slowly turned in relation to the sun. It is now setting a little more south each day until the Winter Solstice. The lower black silhouetted ridge has trees on it. Those are full sized pine trees at 55 miles distant from my lens. The sun is a bit further out…🤔
I find a vantage point that puts me as high as my horizon when that is possible. Knowing most of the trails up on the high hills these days makes my life easier lolol. That is very true of the morning where I have to wind my way around in the dark to get places I’ve never been to before or for a long time. It’s always easier in the evening when I’ve already come that way. This is VERY big country up here. There is 100 square miles area circled by the “loop of maintained road I live on the far side of.
I personally live about 400 feet lower than the ridge I’m standing on’s perspective looking at the far northeastern setting sun. Heck it’s not even setting up north of the arctic circle at 66.5 degrees north at the moment. We have 8 hour nights currently I live VERY close to 45 degrees north. A difference of 21.5 degrees. There are 69 miles per degree of latitude. Just a mere 1300 miles to where the sun never sets to our north from my homestead on the high prairie. But the further north you go during the summer, the shorter the nights get.
If I go out for sunset to work the light with a box-o-cameras, I’m pretty much serious about the process. I maintain a high operational tempo all day but go into overdrive with cameras chasing fleeting light.
So I just spent a few hours out in the backcountry trying to work this sunset. I finally give up on the light and head back to the ranch. A few miles of two tracks later I get to our driveway. A few hundred feet of gravel to home to a reclining chair. But no, I saw this apparition backed by Alpenglow occurring before my eyes. Thusly the involvement of a photon trap in the capture. Picking the right gear for the situation is of course the “game here. The cowboys had T-rex’s tail totally held back by a lariat firmly set into the saddle (just off frame right), that line was sure holding back the T-rex’s charge. The helpless bird was clueless it was about to get eaten of course. The second ropin’ hand on the left was going for a leg to stretch him out.
I didn’t stick around long enough to see the hog tie but I’m pretty sure those horses know what they are doing. The cowboys around these parts are versatile. Here at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, there have been dinosaur encounters of many kinds.😜 Here, the chapped ones saved the day yet again. 🤘
These are silhouettes from the Ranches Main Gate Entry. I did the art years ago and had a plasma table cut the design out. The bird was serendipity as of course is most opportunistic photography 📸 .
Let me start by saying that I did nothing to the colors in this image. I also did no shadows/highlight work to this. Essentially it is a raw image from the camera. It’s naturally colored exactly as it occurred as I saw it in the lens. Of a VERY small part of the sky on the horizon. The 1200 mm lens I’m using to take this images a postage stamp sized area at arm’s length of the horizon here. The ridge here is 40 miles distant from my camera. Full sized pine trees top the ridge which is effectively the horizon. I suspect the total ridge line captured here is a mile long in the frame. Attracted I was to this capture by two things. :
So the first thing to stand out to me in this beside the Harlequin color scheme are the tremendous shadows of the apparent printing in the sky. I’m still trying to read what it says as it looks as much like a block of text as any cloud formation I’ve seen in my travels. Then there are the shadows of the “letters” in the clouds which are making letters themselves. The condition called Pareidolia : seeing shapes of common things / people / faces in clouds. I love graphic presentations by mother nature. There is a message there in text in my humble opinion. We’re just not smart enough to understand it. … I thought I was seeing smoke signals….
The Poetry of the moment is often hard to quantify but as poetry it does qualify. The color of the scene is a result of the cold hard physics of the world. The light proceeds on it’s path until some substance acts either to block or bend the dual nature of particles and waves. (This is a wonderful concept and worthy of an extended google search this AM). Light acts sometimes as a particle but also has wave like properties. Scientific wisdom everyone needs in their daily life but is beyond the scope of this narrative 😝 🤘
Turtle Butte from this angle is often confused with a volcanic cone (and even volcanic during a few of my journeys into satire). Maybe it’s just me. Impersonators are everywhere in geology. Things that “look like”. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me about those volcano’s. FYI, they are sedimentary remnants. Hard Cap Rocks protect the sediment below… . It’s all in the details, not the shape.
Humans are generalists. We miss details but do gather a wide interpretation of scenes at first. Shape! Then we slowly start focusing on details like composition and color. The color here is spot on to the original scene. I take great care in this exposing the highlights such that detail is still visible in them. If you’ve never spent twilights in Wyoming or Montana, you’ve never seen skies like we have. My job is to climb the 300 foot high ridges in the dark to get into position before this amazing show of artistry by mother nature. My photography is resultant of the various to and fro journeys pursuing those dual nature particles. (Photons).👀 🤔 📷
Driving up to the pass on Trail Creek Road to Rockypoint Wyoming, there is a view that tourists don’t get to see. These “little” volcanic “necks” resisting erosion and the ride to the Gulf of Mexico. The express train to the Ocean is always running though the schedule is a the whim of the environment. The sedimentary aprons around them consisting of smaller detrital chunks of the peaks piled up waiting for their ride down river.
Lighting being what it is, I chase it. Sometimes it get’s away from me. Occasionally I don’t have a camera with me (I know, Rule number 1)… If I’m in a vehicle though, I definitely have camera(s) set up for capturing an image. I say that if I can see it, I can photograph it. This looks to be a few miles out from my camera. More like 30 miles distant from my lens. Telephoto lenses crush perspective bringing in distant objects up close and personal.
This was taken during a golden sunset with the background sky being lit up by the color of the ambient light traveling through the atmosphere. The ice there reflecting the sunlight a creme soda colored look over yellow color cast peaks composed of Tertiary Porphyry Igneous rocks. Also known as the “Three Sisters”, these landmarks greeted many a pioneer in covered wagon along the trails to points west.
Location: About 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Twilight captures in June tend to be a very early morning rise for me. I’m thinking the night is just right at 8 hours long between sunrise and sunset these days. That makes for relatively short nights by the time I maintain my cameras for the next morning. Get up, get the dogs on patrol and something in my gut for breakfast. Then grab cam and go.
I often travel miles over two track backcountry roads to get to various locations I like to work terminator crossings. Some highpoint/ridgelines I frequent more than others but it depends on the time of year. That time of year of course controls which direction the sun is rising and setting. The sun is very far north at the moment and 2 days from the Summer Solstice as this posts (about a week after it was written on June 10th).
I get to have the sun rise and set over landscape features this time of year that I only see align for about 2 weeks. Similar short lived opportunities occur around the winter solstice as the sun rise and sets are furthest to the south. This celestial dance happens year after year. I just adjust my planning for where the “next photoshoot” is going to be based on the calendar. I run into most of the wildlife I photograph either on the way to work a sunset or after a sunrise on the way home. I’ve given up photographing wildlife in too dark an environment. Fully a waste of electrons as wildlife moves too much for low light work. The ones I do capture are rare. The wheel continues to turn if you watch.. 👀🤘
Taken VERY early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. Those tree branches are very close for a telephoto perspective. I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy feathery cloud color gradient already on a remote high ridge.
Getting around in the backcountry during early twilight: Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you have to gain altitude to do so. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation here. Everything else locally is lower. Having said that, we are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). I have to leave considerably before sunrise to get up to an eagles view location as this.. I extend my horizon to 50 miles to the east if I climb the right peaks. This ridge named by me as “Sunrise Ridge” but usually because I’m taking pictures of the sunrise OVER this ridge. Not FROM this ridge as this captured moment in space time presents. IT’s a way’s out from my homestead driving 2 track roads in the dark. I have excellent lights on my F-150 Raptor though.
The Dark Orange Alpenglow is caused by ice that like a gel filter on a theatrical stage, colors all behind it. This is the cause of the color reflected of those feathery wisps of a cloud deck. Photography from the remainder of this timeline was equally as good. Eventually, most twilights gradually taper to a blue morning as the suns light was higher and less filtered by the atmosphere. Blue light invades, shadows ignite with detail and dynamic range. This was early in twilight, about 20 minutes before sunrise that May morning.
With Up hill Perspectives pointing into the sun out there, I’m never lacking a subject in this area lol. Lots of snags (fallen trees) around the highland backcountry ranch land I work are about. They provide cover for smaller creatures as rabbits, mice etc. Some are big enough to provide rain cover under them.
All sizes and shapes, ages and orientations of snags are there for me to play with in the backcountry. Standing as this, or fallen on the remote hillsides of the borderlands still keeping watch over their domain.
Photographic Musings: Only 3 settings to adjust in Manual Mode… F-stop, ISO and Shutter speed. Here is F-stop’s ball game. Close / Far work is good if you can get it 👀😜
Remember that depth of focus means the ability to have the close object in focus AND have the background in focus. The Manual Mode setting you use to be able to do this is F-Stop (aperture size). Large F-stop numbers are a small pin hole in your lens and gives you DEEEEEEP fields of focus. Being a double edged sword, F-stop will simultaneously shut off light as you turn up the numbers setting higher. A higher F-stop number = A smaller hole in your lens gives you good focus but steals light. A larger hole in your lens lets in a lot of light but you have no depth of focus. F-stop is the hard one to understand. Now all you have to do is figure out how to adjust the f-stop in Manual mode in your individual camera. It’s usually a thumb adjustment high on the back.
Wyotana is a mystical place somewhere near the border of Wyoming and Montana. That demarkation line between the two American Redoubt states is 360 miles long. I consider the “Zone” of Wyotana is about 10 miles wide. That makes a total 3600 square miles in this exotic land. That included area is 3 times larger than Rhode Island. Largely unknown, it includes parts of Yellowstone is mostly remote containing some of the most Mountainous country in the US. This is Cowboy Country from the east border of South Dakota west. All the way to the Yellow park boundary on the west.
Wild Wonderful Wyoming and Big Sky Montana have a few cultural differences. These largely result from Montana having more larger population centers. Their population derived from more migrants exiting huge cities on the coast. Wyoming is more rural with mostly rural local populations. There are HUGE areas of Montana is very similar culturally to HUGE areas of Wyoming. The oil industry and blue collar hydrocarbon guys come and go but a rancher is a rancher on both sides of the border. Our ranch IS in both states by the way lolol. Living in a remote rural ranching community on either side of the border is an entirely different existence from living near population. I’ve operated in both environments and way prefer the “long drive to town”.
Oh, the photo… taken 10 days before it posts as a side show to the main sunrise to the left of frame. I love complex skies with spring Alpenglow… 5:15 AM for this capture. My summer nights are getting shorter until the summer solstice….. Tough schedule to work both sunset and sunrise….
It’s called turtle butte for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle (not this angle) looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle shell fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not as much as on that hill. There have been scattered dinosaur chunky chunks but alas, no amazing finds there. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.
Up here in the very remote borderlands I find a variety of interestings things just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Numberous native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. There were no big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.
There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover better ground that way. Everyone walks the trail…
Literally playing “King of the Hill”, this American Eagle had quite a view. This hillock is one of the higher Buttes about (erosional remnant sometimes called “Monadnock” which is a good google word for the morning). Several hundred feet above the surrounding terrain is a good spot to look for game without all that effort of flying etc.. I’m going to have to take a climb up there as this is a hill I haven’t been up yet. It’s a little scramble to climb sandstone buttes and not without some challenge. I might put a game trail camera up there just for kicks… See what flies by…
I saw the “silhouette” of the bird from a LONG way out. Way out in the hilly backcountry, it took me about 10 minutes to get THIS close. All the while this sharp eyed bird was watching me bounce around the backcountry well away from the closest “smooth” two track trail….
The whole game was trying to get into position to take the sun RIGHT behind the bird setting on the peak. The sun was actually above the bird just off frame. IF I could have maneuvered for another few minutes, he would have been in the crosshairs between sun and my lens. No such luck as he flew away seconds after this capture. I’m not sure why he flew but I wasn’t being subtle trying to get into the right position. I always stop in intervals while approaching wildlife. Get the shot, move a little closer, get the next shot, rinse and repeat.
The spring Alpenglow was rife with orange gradients. The suspended ice in the air is responsible for the orange color. If you haven’t experienced a deep orange late evening sky before, you need to spend some time up here in the winter… I was miles out into the backcountry minutes before sunset. It was a long clear sky sunset drive back…….
This 1/2 miles of Campbell County road is the last of Wyoming going north as directly over the crest of the first hill, is the Montana border. The Valley in the Distance is the Ranch Creek Drainage which is the first watershed going into Montana. My closest neighbors live up there. We literally live in the last house north in Wyoming. End of the electric, end of the phone and the last internet source lol. There might be a few closer to the border but not many. We have land in both states, pay taxes in both, my son went to school in Montana but we live in Wyoming. By at least 3/4 of a mile. Most of my images have both states in them (Wyotana) .
In many ways we get the best of both worlds. There isn’t much difference in the landscape north or south from this vantage point. I am actually standing at our back yard fence for this telephoto capture. The hill on the left is several miles down the road with the far hills being about 10 miles distant. The Alpenglow sky from the sun that just set 15 minutes before to the left side of the frame is still barely lighting things up. The low light causes photographers to use tripods and long exposures to saturate their captures. I’m no exception here. A window clamp on my Raptors drivers side did the trick nicely. These are very very handy things to buy on amazon. Don’t buy a cheap one as you get what you pay for.
Lenticular Clouds are actually not that common from my particular location. I don’t see them too often but here is a lenticular cloud “UFO” that is obviously re-entering the atmosphere. These saucer shaped clouds typically form where clam moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains. When this occurs, a series of large-scale standing waves can form above the mountain’s downwind side. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops to or below the dew point, moisture in the air will condense to form clouds. Standing waves are lenticular shaped. As the moist air moves back down into the trough of the wave, the cloud may evaporate back into invisible vapor.
UFO talk of late… I feel neglected by ET. No body cares about the 45th parallel when they have the 37th to pay in. (That is a little factoid to follow up on if you don’t know about UFO’s and the 37th parallel…
As a trained observer of nature and science of at least 50 years of my adult life. I’ve never seen any scene in the sky that I could not explain to a reasonable satisfaction. Having extensively photographed sky scenes for many years. Even with quality equipment way back to 1986 and working Halley’s comet. I’ve NEVER seen a UFO. I feel terribly left out. 😔😔😜📸
Getting someone with a science background AND an extensive photographic history with gear in hand to experience a close encounter would be fun. I volunteer but I don’t do well with motion so supply dramamine for warp speed please.
Rest assured that if a UFO that I can’t account for or explain it’s movements, I will have a photo of it that isn’t blurry lolol.
I have to drive about 10 miles to get to this location viewing the Devils Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck Complex. This is a rare sunset early golden hour photon hunt. I’m not usually headed this direction in the afternoon with a tendency to go deep backcountry. This hunt was a road trip mostly watching the storm move through. My bucket list is to get a rainbow against this scene….
Devils Tower was the nations first National Monument is on the left. The “Three Sisters” (right) as they were known to the wagon train pioneers, are related to the Devil’s Tower. Related in space and time and are all remnants of ancient volcanic necks. Exposed by eroding the material away from above/around them.
Formerly deeply buried, these volcanic necks have been exposed on sand grain at a time. The “Little Missouri River” washed away thousands of feet of sediment down to the Gulf of Mexico a little at a time. Rivers very slowly but surely move miles of thicknesses of sediment to expose structures of very deep origin. The 3 Missouri Buttes the real name) is about 30 miles drive from my cameras vantage. The tower is closer to 45 miles out. View from the Northwest (the side the tourists NEVER see).
The lighting this evening was spectacular. I find you are where you are when the “Golden Hour” hits with it’s long shadows and rich earthy tones. This is big country here in the borderlands of Wyoming and Montana (looking southeasterly into Wyoming). Thousands of square miles of less than 2 people per mile population density.
These 5 were caught in early twilight. These deer 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 this grouppretty well as they are seen almost every sunset walking between their grazing area and one of my water troughs. We keep that water available all year (for the last 20).
They are pretty used to me being around but 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.
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.
Remember F-stop? 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 F-stop (depth of focus) or ISO (camera sensitivity) I gave up f-stop as the detail in the sky behind wasn’t critical….. Though it was sure impressively fully involved with the long wavelenths that made it through the atmosphere. Getting a longer depth of focus is what F-stop does along with either letting in more light or taking it away with higher F-stop numbers.
I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines. Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. Here I actually walked to the ridge top to work this visual tunnel.
There is SO much going on here. Looking through a tunnel but what to what light at the end lol ?…. The far horizon which indeed is a climbing ridge towards the sun. Perhaps grassy ridge I’m on that dominates the layers game or the far horizon. Wow, this is busy with the close and far thing too. Gotta love yellow late afternoon Alpenglow…
I am fortunate to use technology that lets me evaluate the wonder of such scenes. I see live real time images as this in my view finder. Mirrorless cameras are WONDERFUL that way. You couldn’t even look at your focus with a DSLR camera without risking your eyesight. Bright scenes and DSLR are not usually good friends.. If you don’t know the difference between the two camera types, it’s time to do some homework. Particularly if your considering a purchase. I now consider DLSR cameras as the “Beta Max” of the current production camera world.📸
Taken 8 days ago as this posts, the snow is melted, the 60 degree days of late spring have won. The mud season has relented for this morning and I was able to ascend to a high ridge. All without damaging the two track trail along the journey. The sun rose at 6AM for this capture. My itinerary for this trip up to the local roof of the world started 1/2 hour before at 5:30. I usually leave early to get most of Civil Twilight in my photographic timeline. Working the ridge all the wayThis particular morning was a 700+ image morning. I worked 12 scenes over all that will end up as final finished prints in my portfolio. From Twilight, to sunrise, to meadowlarks, deer and Pronghorn all morning. This timeline ended up with a rainbow from the storms incoming from the west this day.
I was working out of my Ford Raptors drivers window as the wind was kicking up. There was a bit of buffeting of the camera ongoing but with this much light, a little camera movement isn’t much of an issue lol. I don’t like to have a heater on as the heat waves against the cold outside can significantly distort the image coming into your camera. I try to keep the vehicle at ambient temperature unless that is just stupid to the mission. I’ve seen a few days like that at -20 or 100 plus outside. I find my tolerance of distorted images increases at those envelope edges. Perhaps it’s just old age creeping up and I’m getting wussy… 😜👅
This is an 90 degree tall image. Almost straight up is top frame. HUGE tall pillar and pretty durn good dynamic range in this capture. To look into the furnace but still be able to make out the landscape ladder is extensive DR. Most cameras would show that as a black silhouette. Try it :).
Sun pillars are shafts of reflected light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon. This is BY FAR the tallest pillar I’ve ever seen.
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 REALLY big. This is due to a 12mm lens wide lens.This is not quite 2 times again the subtended angle/width of view afforded by your normal vision at around 55mm would.
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. Big oriented plates of ice positioned at a high angle are required for this particular phenomena. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates. These fall the same way/orientation due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read sunpillars 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. (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 ).
Locally this “Pyramidal Hill” is called Mitten Butte. The orange Alpenglow behind on this Frosty Morning was saturated. Taken a more than a week ago.
Tree frames are elegant in their forms. Smooth curves mixed with contrasts and details. The landscape curves blend themselves into the frame with the silhouettes / negative space bordering the color from the long traveled sunlight. Dropping away to expose the sun rising up, the horizon moves closer to the light.
The actors of this stage show had only one in the audience. Sometimes dramatic plays happen overhead taking over an hour from start to finish. I have a tough job watching entire sunsets and sunrises as they mutate from second to second. I might take 800 photos of a particular sunrise as this. Only 3 or 4 images from this twilight my be worthy of finishing from that pile… None the less, you have to be there to capture the image.
More images from after sunrise of this morning with different frames were equally as dramatic. Skies as above are not rare but the high ridges I work have their share. Dozens of decades under the trees “belt”. It’s perspective far exceeds our own limited memory with short existence on earth (It’s comprehension might be a bit challenged though lolol). The complexity of our thought the tree can not conceive, but the perspective it has is beyond our comprehension. Being a tree it has ultimately a figurative and literal connection to the land lol. I would like to think it is deeper than that.
There is much more connectivity between living things and the environment than we give them credit for occurs I feel. Even disconnected to nature by nurture human/me, can feel things happening an orderly manner here in the highlands. It’s probably my own psyche settling into the cycles, the yearly natural event of this place in space and time.
Twilight Landscapes are all dark…because they were/are 😁
Layers of Landscape to the first big ridge stretch for 40 miles in the distance. The Alpenglow illuminated BigHorn Mountains are saturated in an orange color cast projecting off of the deeper snow cover of the slopes. There is still plenty of snow in the low and sheltered northern slopes and the deeper slopes of the 130 mile distant peaks. 1200 mm telephoto.
This Twilight Sky is what I call “fully involved”. Bear in mind that at the 130 mile distance, the 13K feet high BigHorns can be covered by your thumb at an arms length. This is a very small area of the sky way out there from where I’m standing. I can see 50 miles over my shoulder so I’ve got a 180 mile horizon to horizon sky to work. So I take a picture of a little portion of it lolol.
This of course is a time exposure as it were. I consider anything longer than 1/4 second a time exposure best done on a tripod or some support. You can take photos like this free handed but your ISO is going to have to be so high that you’ll get grain on your image. A minimum handheld speed with a long lens is about 1/100th. With a telephoto your going to have to compensate for the lack of light somehow as they are not a fast lens. Turning up camera sensitivity? This will unfortunately give you larger grain to your image and add noise to the color. It will however bring an image in. This came out “sharp as a tack”.
Jumping into my photo, “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill provides a close for this “Close / Far” perspective
Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘📸 Don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…. 👀
Gotta love Yellow/golden Alpenglow. A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The Bighorns look pretty close in this image. But its taken by a 1200mm lens, this give the appearance of “SLIGHTLY” zoomed in. Resulting that the Big Horns look huge, way larger than they are in real life/naked eye. Those “hills” on the far right frame are 130 miles from the camera. They are also 13,000 feet tall ranking aside some of the highest mountains in Wyoming. The area of horizon can be covered by your thumb at an arms length.
The Big Horn Mountains are indeed distant from “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. Sneaky “randomly” photobombs my landscapes. He and his big Brother “Re Pete” are both living here on ranch. Of course they are hard core publicity seekers often managing to zip into my frames. In full disclosure I have no control over their actions. The only place I can get away from them is in the timber where they can’t follow 😜😜😜📷. (This is a years long narrative if your new to my world) Satire and all that.
Enjoy your “time off”, make the best of it you can. I’ve been working every day as hard as ever up here in the middle of nowhere. Be safe all.
Alpenglow occurs both before and after sunset. You see different colors with time as the sun light moves has to plow through progressively longer paths through the atmosphere. As the horizon draws closer to the sun, the colors that survive the trip are longer wavelengths like red and orange. Rich crimson is the result of only the longest wavelengths making it through that smoke, dust, moisture laden longest path where the light is actually bent around the globe a bit. Yellow skies like this are late results of a clear sky sunrise. Yellow is the last gasp of the twilight deeper colors. Blue Sky isn’t far away. (This is a VERY small area of the sky and the close ridge is 5 miles out)
Alpenglow as this exists because suspended atmospheric ice acts as a projection screen dominating the skies in the winter. What you see here is the result of illuminated/ lit up suspended small ice crystals shining yellow. That is the dominate color for this length of travel through the atmosphere. Just a few minutes before, this was red as these stage shows constantly change the set of the play.
Don’t forget: When the moon or the sun is ON the horizon, it is in reality below the actual line of sight. Hiding behind the earth. It’s image curves around the globe a little due to the atmospheric lensing. Only orange/red light makes it through that gauntlet giving us twilight colors.
Musings on working ridges with cameras. :
I am always looking for Layers of ridges. A “Landscape Ladder” so to speak. Working the high ridge country here on the Montana / Wyoming border is wonderful for finding such “ladders”. Parallel Ridges aligned at right angles to the sunrise and sunset creates unlimited opportunity way to work shadow lines photographically. You can usually find dozens of worthy sunsets and sunrises captures on the ridges following/moving along that shadow line. Many interesting foreground objects magically appear that way. Those are useful in the close part of the close/far perspective (the goal) . Start an hour before the event is my suggestion.
This method of working the landscape works very well for moon perspectives I find. Moving along that shadow line, on an opposite ridge, I’m able to maneuver down topography for a sunrise and up for a sunset. One can follow the sun/moon up/down over the “event” by changing my position. Ridges let me work the moon (for example) for an hour instead of 5 minutes that I would have on flat ground. It helps to be very agile getting about too. Cover more ground, get more captures.
Here “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill has thoughtfully placed himself dead center of my portrait landscape of this twilight sky show. I of course have no control of his actions as he is an attention seeker. I get for him that free publicity he’s longing for. The “deal is he works it out ahead of time with the deer and the Pronghorn to “sit” for me if I get him in the limelight. Seemed fair to me at the time and the animals do sit for me not and then… So when ever I get a cooperative Pronghorn (rare), I tip my hat to “Sneaky” for doing what he does best. Photobomb and give me a foreground object for scale 👁👅
Note: This narrative is quite complex with so little time and space for it all lol.
Windmill Junkies Unite: Windmill Wednesday :🤘 As I’ve mentioned before, don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…..☯
Musings on twilight color gradients: (back to reality).
I call this kind of twilight sky gradient “Alpenbows” Blue Down to crimson has a mix in between of yellow and blue to make green It’s a classic Twilight rainbow of color in the sky. The long through the atmosphere the light from the sun travels, the different colors drop out. Only red photons survives the trip down through the low atmosphere. Yellow higher, then mix Yellow with Blue to get green in between. Complete Color Gradients such as this are not common for me to see. I’ve seen WAY more the 20 years I’ve lived on the Ranch than all the years before.
Oh the history… Deep in the backcountry of Wyotana, is this old tin covered shack. It was used for many decades. From as early as 1900 some structures survive the years intact out here if the windows remain. Windows generally keep everything wild that might decide to overnight out. Cattle Pressure usually destroys windows in abandoned structure UNLESS they are in a fenced in an enclosure or corral area surrounded by other buildings. This on an abandoned homestead where the main house burned many years ago. It is indeed protected from cattle pressure.
This bunk house housed many hired hands over the years. All working on the larger ranch that used to head quarter at this site. Families came and went with the turning of the calendar. Generations perhaps of cowboys ‘passing through’ on their life journey. Father and son partnering, time passes, as eventually do the keys to the door. The number of boots passing that door must have been countless. Lives long since past. The poker games on the only table. The frost on the window ghosting one of the many hands passed with Aces and Eights. None of us has the perspective of this surviving relic of a past age. But perhaps to be a future alternative to the reality of todays world. We might all circle back to that life again.
Live in “interesting times” :
Maybe boring is better but change is of the essence wafting in the breeze. Not to worry as change has always been part of our existence here. It is as certain as life itself. When we become complacent and “used” to our lives, expect the unexpected. Things sneak up on you otherwise. Suddenly everything your “used” to changes. Then we reflect our thoughts to the stability of the old ways and realize that is where we belong. It is after all where we all came from.
I’m thinking I’m going to start practicing some more 1880’s technology than I already play with…. 🤔
Oh… the image…. Wonderful Alpenglow lights the background on an icy/snowy/frosty winter like spring morning. I love prodigious Alpenglow gradients during late civil twilight ❤️
Location: “Wyotana”, The Montana/Wyoming borderlands…