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Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls
Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls (I see the Devil’s Tower’s outline on the left but it’s pretty far out in the snow to show up here lol. )

I’m a photorealist who preaches against “blue snow”. I maintain the practice of maintaining a blue snow free zone in my gallery, except when it was really blue. This was blue sky and hills distant but the snow was white.

So much of the deeply blue snow you see in forum photos is bad or excessive color enhancement or improper setting for white balance in that camera. It drives me crazy lolol. I’ve always argued that blue snow doesn’t exist in nature but for a few, very few mornings, early in twilight. This color is as I experienced it. Think about it, have you ever seen electric blue snow?

I do sunrises and sunsets almost every day photographically. This twilight was a rmisty one indeed. This is a view looking to the south east from near the Montana/Wyoming border. This is very far northeastern Wyoming.

Remember that those 4 hills are all related volcanic necks. Being made of hard rock, they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

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Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower
Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

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

Title: Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

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Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes and Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

This is one of those RARE times when the colorcast from the twilight was so intensely orange, that the reflections on the snow was very noticeable. I’m a photorealist who preaches against “blue snow”. I maintain the practice of maintaining a blue snow free zone in my gallery, except when it was really blue.

So much of the blue snow you see in forum photos is bad color correction or improper setting for white balance in your camera. I’ve always argued that blue snow doesn’t exist in nature but for a few, very few mornings like this extreme one. This color is as I experienced it. I could easily drop out the bark blue in the snow and make it white but that isn’t how it was. Early morning colorcast twilight is the only times I have ever seen this phenomena. Even then, I’ve only seen this one other time 2 winters ago. That time the colorcast was WAY red. This one is a very pervasive colorcast covering every object in it’s glow.

I do sunrises and sunsets almost every day photographically. This twilight was a rare one indeed. This is a view looking to the south east from near the Montana/Wyoming border. This is very far northeastern Wyoming.

Remember that those 4 hills are all related volcanic necks. Being made of hard rock, they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

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Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show

Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show
Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show

Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show 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 pink belt surrounds the sky behind a sunset or sunrise if there is a LOT of ice in the air. The low angle sunlight is red due to the longer wavelengths being able to penetrate the haze better.

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 mid-summer. It’s off season appearance is a fairly common event but it usually isn’t this intense. When the sunlight is just touching the hills in the distance, I am in the shade of the ridge 10 miles distant from my perspective. Topography allows some interesting opportunities.

I strongly recommend googling “Belt of Venus” to further your knowledge of this wonderful phenomena. Often the sunward side of the sky show your watching isn’t the highlight (pun intended) of the moment. Make sure you turn around and check the sky. This was easy as I was still in the shade and waiting for the sun to come up over that ridge behind my position. I had a three mile drive on two track roads to get to this location. My jeep has no trouble on these old cow trails. (Except it beats me up).

Awaiting a new ride. According to the Ford Website, the 2020 Ford Truck is “In Production” at the moment being assembled. The last truck I purchased new was in 1999.

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

Title “Belt of Venus Alpenglow Show”.

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Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning

Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning
Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning

Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning was taken at a crisp 20 degrees.

From this over look of about 4 miles, you can see one of my favorite areas to work the borderlands This beautiful country has topography conducive to lining up compositions. You can move up as a sun or a moon moves down against a horizon. I have a LONG sunset because I follow the suns shadow across the landscape to get repeat attempts at a sunset with different frames.

I know this ground like the back of my hand. I”ve spent many whole days in the backcountry doing either dinosaur, photos or artifact hunting (I’m an opportunist artifact hunter). I will pick them up if I see them. Remember it is illegal to collect artifacts OR vertebrate remains on Federal, State or Tribal Ground. Check the BLM website for specifics. These activities can only be done on private ground.

All of this ground is underlain by Hell Creek Formation which is dinosaur fossil bearing sandstone. I have literally found vertebra in the grass up here. But the grass makes it hard to find fossils and I have to work around that by looking in the gullies and being systematic. I’ve found croc teeth up here randomly keeping my eye to the ground. Antlers are also a prize in the backcountry to find. I’m very systematic in covering ground as I search new places. I’ve looked/walked about 1/2 the ranch VERY well over 20 years. I’ve also done a general survey around the area and unlikely areas to find fossils on the ranch. There are still places up here I haven’t looked at for cool stuff but I’m gradually covering carefully most of the ranch. (this is a big place).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning

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“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

"Belt of Venus" NE Wyoming
"Belt of Venus" NE Wyoming

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.

Erosional Remnants:

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.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title “Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

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Alpenglow Across the Barnyard

Alpenglow Across the Barnyard
Alpenglow Across the Barnyard

Caught Coming Home the other night: Alpenglow across the Barnyard

Really dark scenes like this are best caught on a tripod. I have a vehicle window clamp that works pretty well for lenses under about 8 or 9 pounds. I’ve had several cameras on that window before lol. One is easy. The reflections in the windows of this rather large Barn Structure we have (286 feet by 94 feet I believe) which is about the size of a regulation foot ball field. The Moon was up far to the left and I was trying like heck to see it’s reflection in the windows but I couldn’t get low enough to catch it. Durn Ground was in the way. Some things you just have no or little control of.😜”Alpenglow Across the Barnyard”

Time exposure, night time about 30 minutes after sunset at the beginning of Nautical Twilight. About 2 seconds worth of shake free camera. (you have to turn down the volume on the stereo AND turn off the car to avoid that. A real mood breaker since I tend to do photography with some jamming tune in the backcountry.

Alpenglow:

When you have a LOT of “stuff” in the atmosphere plus a LOT of red/orange light filtering through it, leads to Alpenglow. The low angle sun light plows through hundreds of miles of air, clouds, moisture, and dust. In this case, ICE is a major sun projection screen lighting up with the infusion of colored hues, mostly orange here but I’ve seen EVERY color in Alpenglow. Often the Gradients can literally be a rainbow gradient. I’ve seen and photographed it numerous times.

You can count the number of architectural silhouettes I’ve published on both hands I’m pretty sure. My tendency is to work nature not the man made stuff up on ranch…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Crescent Moon in Twilight

Crescent Moon in Twilight
Crescent Moon in Twilight

Alpenglow with the Crescent Moon in

Very clear Skies, Alpenglow below with a Crescent Moon in Twilight. This Crescent a few days ago was a 5 percent illuminated disc. It will be a new moon tonight if we see it. Winter weather is occurring as I type this and next week look cold…. (Your reading this about 6 days after I typed it). This image was actually taken in my driveway which ended up just about the last image I took that day. I locked the front gate behind me as I go into our homesteads electric fence deer resistant perimeter for the night. I have to close the gate though as they will go across the cattle gates without a gate in the way. Title: Crescent Moon in Twilight

That night there was so much ice in the air , it produced one of the finest Alpenglow displays I’ve seen in quite a while. This was way to the left of the main show to the west. The camera her was almost straight south by south west. The real show was in the west but the moon wasn’t so..🌙lick…

This was later in Civil Twilight just before the boundary time 28 minutes (ish) after sunset to Nautical Twilight. 28 (ish) minutes later than that Astronomic Twilight starts (so do you know the difference?) It’s a good google if you don’t. Night starts the second the sun goes down and ends with the tip of the sunrise in the morning. Remember it’s not the sun that moves, it’s the horizon that is rising or falling across the face of the sun that your watching. Things are as they actually are, not the way you think they are or the way you have told they are 🤔🙏

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

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Big Horn Mountain’s Sunset

Big Horn Mountain's Sunset
Big Horn Mountain's Sunset

Catching a Big Horn Mountain Sunset (Clear Sky)

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. 

Equipment Suggestions:

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. 

Disclaimer: 

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”

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. 

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Big Horn Mountains Behind the Veil

Big Horn Mountains Behind the Veil
Big Horn Mountains Behind the Veil

The view from my Driveway of the Big Horn Mountains behind the Veil of a big cloud bank in the Powder River Basin. That ridge is about 40 miles out from my position and the peaks of the 13,000 feet high Big Horns are 130 miles out from my viewpoint.
This is actually a side show to the sunset on going off the right side of this frame.

We are as high elevation wise as the first black ridge (the Red Hills) and generally have the same weather as the high grounds around us. The lower areas down in the valley often has rain where we get snow. We call this place.. “Little Siberia” and that designation has been handed down to us from the previous owners of this ranch decades ago lol. The name still applies. But we have the views😄

As I type this, we are 4 degrees (oct 29th) at 5:14AM. … It’s October NOT November yet. Winter is coming (for a classic reference).

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Pink “Belt of Venus” Alpenglow Crack of Dawn on the “Red Hills”

Pink "Belt of Venus" Alpenglow Crack of Dawn on the "Red Hills"
Pink "Belt of Venus" Alpenglow Crack of Dawn on the "Red Hills"

In taking this image Pink “Belt of Venus” Alpenglow Crack of Dawn on the “Red Hills”, I was at around the same elevation as the saddle to the left of the peak off in the “Red Hills” 40 miles away from the camera.

I wonder why they call them the “Red Hills”? hummm.🤔

The Science of this.

The Light Stuff: The Pink Alpenglow known as “The Belt of Venus” is literally the back show of a sunrise over my shoulder that was s a stunning clear sky yellow Alpenglow scene saturated by an orange and yellow gradient sunrise THROUGH the atmospheric ice present. You’ve seen other photos of that in the wetlands around here just recently posted this morning perhaps elsewhere. This is the back show where only the longer more penetrative red/pink rays of light make it through to the relatively light grey atmospheric ice present and reflects even more red. The red rocks on the hills are also adding to the effect of just the tip of the Mountain is exposed to the sun over the shadow of the horizon behind me. Technically the sun has risen for some places and not for others.

Geology: That is the Little Powder River Valley with the Montana/Wyoming border somewhere in there. That little 6 foot wide river removed all the sediment between here and those mountains all by itself. No kidding. I wonder how long that took a spring flood and yearly freeze thaw cycles to break up the bedrock so the river can haul sand/silt/clay most of the time? 🤔 Cobbles only move during floods. Quartz cobbles are common down in the river valley where they eventually make their way. Being harder they resist erosion, being heavy, they don’t travel very fast and tend to concentrate in the river down there. Quartzite cobbles up here in pure fine grained sandstone country are rare. When I find them, they are affiliated with Dinosaur Bone Deposits and are probably “gastroliths” or stomach stones (like chickens swallowing gravel). Dinosaurs moved literally small boulders around in their stomachs and left them here mixed in randomly where you find dinosaur bones. the same river concentrated both just like it does gold.

This has been an alpenglow day……3 posts in a row anyway… Change up is in order I think📸

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands