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Faces Within the Clouds

Faces Within the Clouds
Faces Within the Clouds

Faces Within the Clouds

So how many faces/creature can you see / imagine on these distant storms. A “just after” sunset backshow with the dark clouds below the red being the shadow of the horizon.  Montana on the left, Wyoming on the right.

This large mesocyclone was about 100 miles distant from my ranch a few nights ago. We had just fought a grass fire on ranch and this was the storm that started it all. That was a long day. I finished talking to the Bureau of Land Management fire crew that was going to sit on the “extinguished” burn site. Having someone around for a few days is a good thing after a fire. 

The sun had already set in this twilight longer exposure (around a second). It was pretty dark. The smell of smoke and burned prairie in the air. I watched several snakes come out of their holes to leave the burned area at dusk. We got it out. Well, it was out 2 days later after I extinguished 2 other flair ups lolol. 

At any rate: 

You Pariedolia sufferers, (you know who you are), this image is classic fodder to let your imaginations run wild. The genetically derived propensity to see figures in random data. If clouds, water swirls, abstract patterns etc. set you off in a fantasy world….. good. 

Personally on the left storm tower appears to me to be a Happy Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars. On the far right tower is a wolf looking left or a bear looking at you. That’s the best I got out of this but some of you always push the envelope. 

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

Title: Faces Within the Clouds

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Backcountry Brown Backshow Sunset

Backcountry Brown Backshow Sunset
Backcountry Brown Backshow Sunset

Backcountry Brown Backshow Sunset

The End of Brown Season is upon us. From now on there will be more green in my Landscapes (spring 2020).

That HUGE mile wide butte (called “W” Butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. I’m standing in Wyoming. Looking north across the border. About 30 miles distant from my camera stands the epicenter of what was at one time one of the largest ranches in the Country. Called the “W” Butte Ranch, it was big. I’ve heard you couldn’t see the edge of the ranch from that high point. I suspect that is not true. My ground was never part of that ranch to my knowledge. I’ve only seen/have deeds back to 1906 though. I’m not sure before that, pretty sure gov’t had it. Custer certainly saw that Butte on his way through here. He sure didn’t see it on his way back from the “Little BigHorn” though… A well known landmark regionally, “W” butte stands out to the traveler.

This image was captured during evening “Golden Hour” yellow light. The landscape was very spot lit that night with a high contrast dark cloud cover surrounding us. Just a small window to the sun illuminated this back show for my photon traps to catch.

That is old growth forest along that ridge with many of those trees being 50 feet or taller. There is around 500 feet difference in the elevation from the top of “W” butte and the drainage system below.

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

Title: Backcountry Brown Backshow Sunset

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Portrait Moon Morning Backshow

Portrait Moon Morning Backshow
Portrait Moon Morning Backshow

Portrait Moon Morning Backshow

The peaks in the distance, known as the Red Hills reach 40 miles out from the camera. Most folks out east would call them Mountains. We live basically at the same elevation (4000 ft) as the ridge tops on those hills. The “Little Powder River” Basin lays between myself and the Red Hills in the distance.. Part of the right side of that ridge is in Montana while I’m standing in and looking at 1/2 a Wyoming , 1/2 a Montana scene. This Gibbous Moon captured here in the process of heading for the horizon/setting. Remember it’s not the moon that’s moving. It’s the horizon/you. I chase the moon from time to time. Sunrise over my shoulder was an amazing show that morning… Nice snow for an Early April.

The full moon that morning was too late setting that day for me to nab it’s photons while in the Belt of Venus. 😔 The “Belt of Venus has dissipated with the blue wavelengths finally making it through to the atmospheric Ice clearly suspended in the low atmosphere here. That icy haze was rich pink red 20 minutes earlier before the sunrise. that morning. The time lines from a really good sunrise/sunset might run 2 hours long for me. I might take 800 -1000 images during that two hours. Out of those, maybe 4 or 5 will make it into my work flow.

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

Title: Portrait Moon Morning Backshow

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Back Show Buttes Twilight

Back Show Buttes Twilight
Back Show Buttes Twilight

Back Show Buttes Twilight

In the spring of 2019 mid-April, I took a “Wyoming backroads” trip up the Powder River Valley crossing the Montana / Wyoming border. This area is about 70 miles west of my ranch. It takes about 2 hours to travel to the start of this excursion.

The light this night was second to none. I drove this 2.5 hour drive in 4 hours. The last hour and a half was pitch black night on unknown country roads. I do carry two compasses at all times. I didn’t have a GPS which I have to admit would have been nice that evening. Navigating the crossing roads is not easy up here as they might start out going east but eventually wind straight north. So dead reckoning might just get you the first part. I’ve actually only been disoriented one time in 30 years up here. That was on an overcast night in the middle of a very large featureless grassy pasture. I had a compass which got me to a fence line with narrowed down my choices to two lolol.

The country along the Powder River reminds me of the Yellow stone plateau but without the geysers, tourists or buffalo. There are a lot of cattle ranches and CLASSIC photos to be taken along that drive. If you need directions and suggestions I request you PM me and I’ll get you on the right track.

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

Title: Back Show Buttes Twilight

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Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron

Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron
Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron

Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron (The ultimate wide theatre screen for the filetered sunlight reflecting off back to my camera). The Sun being a big projector lolol.😜🤔📸

Having passed right over us last summer (2019). This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 150 miles across. It served as a projector screen right at sunset. These storms are HUGE and are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience during green and brown season. Think of them as big spinning tops with the energy of an atom bomb inside. They take their own time over where ever they travel. Your going to get some big rain if your under one of these for very long.

The colors are a result our star projecting a smooth color gradient filtered through the atmosphere. Colors ranging from red (bottom) to yellow (top). Big Clouds like this are Projections screens for the colors that make their way through the atmospheric filter. The Red Light reflections are from the longest traveled surviving light rays. Those red rays travel through the most atmosphere to be projected on the cloud. Then a quick 75 miles bounce back to my camera. The higher you go, the more yellow the light that makes it through then finally to the white at the top of the cloud only slightly yellowed light. This smooth gradient from bottom to top is the classic gamut of colors from virtually every sunset. You just normally can’t see all of it lolol.

It was really quite dark where I was as the lighting was off to my side looking a little to the north at sunset.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Gradient Mesocyclone Apron

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Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive
Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

When I try to read the morning as to whether or not to go out, I get about 70 percent good choices. This was a good morning. Once I decide to go out 30 minutes or so before sunrise, I have to decide where to go. I usually try to follow the light so I chose to take a road trip. There are few places up high that are accessible in the winter (sometimes more accessible than others).

Hoar frost covered this ridge that morning. Covering the left side of all the pines. Covered were any objects that disrupted air flow. The down wind side of the trees had little to no Hoar frost. Taken 5 minutes Pre-sunrise, this Alpenglow Back Show was a sight to behold for me. I don’t see many “Belt of Venus” this intense. Ice as a projector screen becomes efficient with so much of it in the atmosphere. The colorcast in the snow testifies to the reflected lights intensity. I don’t post much colorcast snow if it didn’t actually exist at the time. I mostly produce images in a “Blue Snow Free Zone”.

If you haven’t already, look up the term “Belt of Venus” as it is a fixture up here in the Winter. In season, almost every visible sun/horizon crossing up here has some pink alpenglow in the backshow. I’ve even seen it during the summer as well but for some reason, there seems to be less ice in the air during the summer.🤔😜 When there is ice, it usually falls as hail lolol.

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

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

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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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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

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Windmill Photobombing a Mesocyclone

Windmill Photobombing a Mesocyclone
Windmill Photobombing a Mesocyclone

Here a windmill known in my narratives as “Sneaky Pete” is caught photobombing my capture of this massive Mesocyclone about 100 miles out. It’s also probably 100 miles across and covering/pounding part of Montana/SouthDakota AND Wyoming at the same moment. Golf ball sized hail, torrential rains and 60mph winds were the result. I watched/photographed this storm for 2 hours well past sunset till the full moon came out in front of it. I have many photos still to finish from this event months later.

This was taken as the sunst’s backshow right at sunset where the orange/red light from the setting sun going through the atmosphere hits the core but the light hitting the top of the storm is still blue white as it goes through way less atmosphere.. Gradually the whole storm turns orange/pink/reddish depending on the atmospheric lens conditions of the timeline before the shadow of the horizon moved over the storm from the bottom up. 1/10th of a second exposure in this light.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Old Man Ent (Onodrim to the Elves) in the Backcountry

Old Man Ent (Onodrim to the Elves) in the Backcountry
Old Man Ent (Onodrim to the Elves) in the Backcountry

This old man “Ent” (Onodrim to the Elves) in the Backcountry. There are many strange things lurking in the hills up here. I saw this “Ent” immediately even through he froze still so as to fool me. Only from this angle is the face so convincing. … Click..

Happy Halloween (real photo)

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana