When looking at a bright Crimson Sunset, one has to take it in perspective. Look how large the sun is relative to how you normally see it. This is zoomed WAY into just a little small area of the sky. Which by the way, is a big area of sky if you were out there under it lolol. So perspective is important to understanding these images. Hold your thumb out at an arms length toward the horizon. Your thumb would cover this entire frame. Postage stamp sized at arm’s length.
Skies banded are best. Or something close to best. I’m all about color, cloud and landscape gradients. I chase them incessantly. Both in the real world and in my dreams. The perfect banded sunset would be a bucket list item. The term perfect of course is up for debate.
You couldn’t look at this for more than a glance. The mirrorless cameras looks well into the bright Not as well into the dark without a time exposure. I think the same is true of the human mind.🤔
Our eyes however aren’t good at the really dark or really bright either. They are generalists sensors we use to deal with most of the events in our world. Apparently there was no survival benefit in our developmental past to look directly at the sun. This is why we invented hats with brims and sunglasses. Now why we don’t have night vision like canids or feline is a good question. In a weapons race, humans gave up an edge there to be functional generalists. 📷
The hundred year old trees and the nearly 100 year old windmill share the scene with us here. There was a time when I would take a light level reading spin some dials, maybe look up a setting on a chart using the film speed I chose for the event. It was the wild wild west and very expensive to take a photo. Then you could have to either print them yourself or on film. I got exposed to digital image processing/ printing seriously in 1989. Photoshop version 1 and Quark Express. I had opened a full prepress service bureau serving other graphic artists in Jackson Hole by 1993. It was film first then a laser drum scanner to
Complications: Translated through my lens to your computer by a host of technological innovations. Converting light photons to electrons in the camera. Those electrons recorded as a series of 1’s and 0’s. Those series are carefully manipulated inside the camera to start into something resembling a really huge number. Properly interpreted and modified by a host of algorithms under my control, that number is changes slightly to suit my sense of finish. From there, the computer file (image) is converted by a lossy compression scheme to .jpg. Then Facebook messes with it further resizing it to suit themselves.
Then and only then does the computer file that was generated by the photons from the sun hit your monitor. Your screen converts that big number from the electron stream back to photons for your eyes to receive.
So see! It’s a really simple process to go from my lens to your eyes.. 😜 😜
Taken about 12 days ago from this post, narrative written 8 days ago.. Such is my work flow these days. Present future and past reflections a this remote wetlands echo back to us in time and space. A Cottonwood Tree covered dam built many decades ago. A spring fed pond is home to many a gorgeous vista. It will have many more. Each sunset/sunrise is a new pallet of color for me to explore.
I have so many choices of where to pursue the limited time I have to chase the light. Because the wind was dead calm at the homestead. The flags were slag. I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the investment of time and gas. .
“Backcountry” …. I’ve defined the term before and for all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…
This little “Heaven on Earth” is 2 miles of bumpy two track dirt/grass road from the nearest county road. That county road is crushed red scoria (“Clinker”) gravel. Generally local gravel travel over well maintained roads is a dusty pleasure. I point out that these roads are fodder for “Clever Girl”. She eats them up. 🤔👀
So… upon gaining the county gravel, it is 14 miles of curvey / hilly 1.5 lane road to the closest asphalt paved two lane highway. . It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away. 2 people per square mile density in this area while there are several hundred cows in the same area. Cattle Country with Dinosaur Bones. …. There certainly are more remote areas of North America but not a lot of difference from those to the lifestyle of living in the “backcountry”.
This spot is about 200 yards from the Montana/Wyoming Border and it has a bit of both states in the image as do most of my photos.
Lone Trees and Large Suns are in an of themselves, each worth of pursuing with a long lens. (1200mm). 300 yards out,. With the dramatic veiled sun and clouds in front, I was able to pull a Japanese scene out of this light.
This Isolated Lone Tree actually has a fossil site at it’s base that I’ve not collected much. I just walk around the surface there and I have not dug. I even left a caudal (tail) vertebra under a boulder there so there is always a fossil to find there. If you were astute looking around you might see large chunky bone fragments coming out of the sandstone in a small outcrop under the ledge to the right of the tree. I keep this place native for the rare person(s) I would take to this place. One of my 4 rifle courses for the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship surrounds this hill top.
I have a theory that is certainly just anecdotal. I believe that the soil types derived from the underlying sediment from fossil sites is easier for this species of pine tree to grow in than surrounding soils. MANY of the small fossil sites in this Cretaceous Sandstone Country have either a big majestic Snag laying around or a tree growing just above the fossil site. It is a “working” theory in the jargon of science in that I’m always trying to observe subtle nuances
Boy is there a lot going on here. This was a dramatic morning to a student of clouds. The Kelvin-Heimholtz type Wave Cloud patterns on the top dark band is not a terribly common cloud phenomena. Differences in air density moving past one another making waves… Add to that the spread across the sky crepuscular rays during twilight. I probably have 4 other images in 30 years of photography. Twilight Crepuscular rays hard to find in my experience.
I was looking madly for a foreground object(s). Ones I could use on a mostly treeless parallel ridge between me and the show. The main sunrise still 10 minutes away. I move pretty quickly from place to place if it’s possible. Mid-winter presents it’s challenges to my access or more importantly egress from some of my ridge top photographic locations. I had to drive about a mile in variously deep snow to get this angle on the tree lined ridge over 2 miles distant from my position. There is a large deep drainage between that ridge and myself as well. Can’t get there from here lolol.
The yellow to orange to red Alpenglow gradients is typical morning midwinter. The longer traveled red rays illuminating the cloud deck from below. The Yellow / Orange part of the image is mostly Alpenglow. Alpenglow is exquisite here in the winter. Every twilight has some if the sun is not occluded by clouds. . There is usually ice in the atmosphere in the borderlands even mid summer sometimes. I’ve seen Alpenglow every month of the year.
In a rare display of a pre-sunset yellow to blue gradient all the way to the roof of the sky. A nice golden lower sky alpenglow color-cast downlow smoothly mixes against the still rich blue of the upper sky. This gives a smooth mix of color through the pure blue at the zenith.
From the stand point of a photographer that has watched a few sunsets:
Just took this a few days before I type this. I consider this sunset as in the top 20 that I actually said “WOW” while I was taking it. Several times as I was clicking away with different compositions with the same backdrop sky show. That immediate wow factor to me pushed it to the front of the line somehow lol. This image publishes right at 10 days from when I took it. I am no longer live the same day. All these narratives are written about a week before the actual post.
I do however try to read every comment and respond to questions as best I can. It might take me a week to make it to any particular forum but I do eventually read everything that I find. I answer several hundred comments (like 300 ) comments a day this year. I check PM messages best I can lolol. Please forgive me if I missed you. I appreciate all comments event the critics. I’m my own worst critic so nothing anyone else can say hurts lololol.
I spend well over an hour taking, finishing a photo, write a 250 -300 word narrative publish it and answer responses to them. 5 per day currently. Facebook is a busy place for me.
Wyotana Sunsets on ridges 10 miles out through a “sun slit” below the cloud deck.
These scenes can go either way as I set up evaluating where I wanted to go for that night. I have this little map in my head where terrain and the sun will align on a particular night. This Deep Saddle between two higher sections of that 10 mile distant ridge in the Prairie “Dog Hills”. A heavy overcast like this is always an IFFY thing to put the time and energy into. It’s a lot of workloading up the vehicle and take the cameras out for an hour or two.
Here I was chasing questionable skies. This is always a risky thing to schedule/commit to lol. The rare possible rewards such as this make it worthy of both your attention and my time. But just occasionally. I evaluate the weather before sun rise and sunset every day then decide my photographic activities for the evening. I got lucky on this particular image as the sun lit this sky up like a neon bulb. All as Sol dropped into the clear below the deck. I’m very picky on the light I work on these days lol.
Fast forward to the present:
I type this at 5 in the morning, 1.5 hours till sunrise. The scenario for sunrise seems to be coming to something like this. Overcast….. It often takes me over an hour to shoot a BASIC sunset from 1/2 hour before to 1/2 after. Extended shows can run 2 hours. Me committing to 2 hours of photography on an iffy sky isn’t good time management. I have about 4000 backlogged images to refinish …. It seems silly but new material is important somehow lolol. There is always: “You have to be there with a camera to get the light” (Rule 1 of photography). The sky has been horrible all week for photography and the snow is old. We need some light snow to freshen the scenes up.
At 40 miles distant from my camera, the full sized 50 foot Pine Trees seem like brush on the far ridge. The Top of the “Red Hill’s clear across the Little Powder RIver Valley. You MIGHT be able to see a human waving at you standing on that ridge. So at 40 miles, it’s 211,000 feet to the mountains. Amazingly we can see a 50 foot high tree. CRUSHING perspective here.
The atmospheric Window was wide open between here and that ridge but on the other side of that window was a slatted shade to the sun. The Shade I speak of made here of course of cloud bands.. This instantly reminded me of a window blind. Must be an “Anderson” sunset.
There apparently are 2 small sunspots on this sun which were the first after the bottom of the current solar minimum (good google phrases there). There is too much cloud cover to resolve those in this environment. I do have the technology to get good sun/solar face sunspot images. I haven’t seen any for a while lol.
The 20 inch long , 8 pound lens/camera back rig i used for this is somewhat clumsy and slow to bring into play. But to get the sun proportionally this big compared to the ridge at that distance, you have to have a long focal length. Here is a case of bigger IS better 😜🤘📸
Weather this year has been cooperative in getting the Setting BigHorn Sun over the Notch between the 13,000 foot high peaks.
The Sun apparent motion is from left to right as well as down so it actually set on the peaks to the right. It’s kind of tricky to figure out where to set up for an image like this. I’m WAY out away from the range at 130 miles for this shot and the area in the sky this image covers is tiny. Hold up your thumb at an arms length and your covering it from where I am. Those are HUGE peaks, they just get smaller as I move away. The sun doesn’t change size so quickly lolol.
This sky was a Sunslit. The sun came down from the thick cloud deck above to light up the narrow strip of the sky. The relative difference in dynamic range of the bright sun and the much less bright land makes silhouettes. My eyes could have seen details in the land if I wasn’t totally blinded by the sun at that moment.
I remind you it’s not the sun that is setting. It’s the horizon that is rising. Things are as they are, not as they seem or as you were told. This is the basis science works off of. The trick is to determine how they are … The essence of discovery is the effort to discern the way things actually work. Electricity comes out of the wall right?
Colorcast orange Banded BigHorn Mountains is an odd color to cover a landscape with. It was really that color lol.
I saw this developing the other night as I’ve been on a mission to catch the sun behind the BigHorn Mountains. Some nights, the weather window is closed to the mountains but this night it was closed to the sun. The 130 miles distant snow covered range was shrouded in this Orange colorcast that was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape.
This only lasted a few minutes of course as the sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds. All just prior to being snuffed out by the range. The horizon of course is rising here, not the sun is setting….
I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The sun and the range is playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have many good captures from this week which will slowly work their way into my work flow here. T
The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out from this 800 mm telephoto capture on a very high resolution camera. If you hold a postage stamp at arms length and place it against the horizon, this image would fit into a square that side.
2:1 aspect. (very wide. 40 x 20 inches at 300 dpi.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.
This was taken on the morning of 11/06 (Wednesday) Exactly at sunrise. I don’t fully understand hoe this sun formed but I’ll give you my theory.. “Distorted Sunrise Early Winter Ridgeline” This was a new one to me.
FIrst of all the sky was lit up pretty well through about 15 minutes of late civil twilight. So I’m watching the clock having picked my spot based on compass direction and brightness. I would point out this is EXACTLY what I was seeing through the eyepiece. At the right place at the right time this blob rose that I could have easily looked at with my naked eye. This is not a particulary bright scene which is why there is so much definition in trees.
No glare at sunrise with a “sun” must be rare. I have this on two cameras at different magnifications and framing. I have only finished this one as of yet. This was a dark scene with little light for right at sunrise. Just color and not brightness if that makes sense.
The Distorted Sun is of course sending light through hundreds of miles of atmosphere, storms, clouds etc. We actually only see a line of sight sun when it’s up somewhere ABOVE the horizon, any sun touching the horizon is actually below the line of sight. The atmospheric lens bends the suns image around thee horizon to your eye well below the line of sight.
This sun is distorted the absolute heck out of it by that “air lens”. I have not in thousands of observed/photographed sunrises/sunsets seen anything like this before. This is by far a very odd blob for a sunrise. The “sun” disappeared into the cloud banks and more or less shut down this show. I had maybe 20 seconds to get two cameras involved.
I’ve seen very formal distortions in the suns image. Stretched with a vertical elongation or sawtoothed edges I’ve seen. MIrage of the suns edge from bending around the earths surface real time I’ve watched. But I’ve never seen a blob with such color and shape? Never in my career. 😲 (Shaking head).
Filed under weird things I see working “Wyotana Skies”.
I had turned over this big boulder of Tiger Chert (kinda rare) out by a building leading to this little Black Widow Hunting (me about then) . The boulder of Tiger Chert about 90 pounds (I carried it down a pretty good mountain in a frame pack…. I know lol). So you reach under it to tip it over right?…… Up here you reach under it with gloves on and here is one (just one) of the reason why. Working bare handed turning anything over in Wyoming/Montana is not necessarily the right thing to do lolol.
This Black Widow hunting on Tiger Chert had another agenda than I did. I wonder if it’s like the ground hog and we’re in for an early winter if it see’s it’s shadow? I’m pretty sure it saw that shadow…. Well I know for a fact this gal now resides in an escape proof glass terrarium down in my green house now where she is going to be in a few photosessions I hope. She gets fed a cricket or so a week from the green houses endless supply of crickets lolol. Ultra macro work on her might just be an interesting time spent with a camera dead winter .
Tiger Chert for Rockhounders
As you might expect, the rock is exotic. Oil Chert or Tiger Chert is a fairly rare variety of Silicate mineral.. Named for the alternating bands of light and darker browns or tans, the banding reflects the yearly deposition of sediment into the bottom of prehistoric Lake Gosiute. Outcrops of the material usually occur south and west of Rock Springs as well as a few other places in the Green River Basin. I found this WAY north and east of Dubois Wyoming so this one is an outlier. It was up high when I found it too. Big effort to retrieve it and it still follows me around.
The concoidal fracture and homogenous nature of Tiger Chert made it a favorite of flint nappers throughout the period of human habitation in North America. It occurs in archaeological sites of all ages. It’s beautifully banded, reminds me of tree rings but those were yearly mudstone lake sediments that were literally “replaced” by silicious chert in the diagenetic history of the rock deep in the Wind River Ranges. Many mis-identify it as petrified wood. It’s very similar in composition with most petrified wood but it didn’t used to be wood 🤔
Most Sunrise with a Banded Sky aren’t usually this dramatic but some ultra high light environments I visit bring a certain amount of intensity to the image. With good equipment you don’t blind yourself looking through an old DSLR (I only use mirrorless cameras and don’t suggest using a DSLR with a direct optic path to your eye to try this. It might be the last thing you do. The new mirrorless cameras handle this and your looking at a video of the scene, not blinding bright light through the viewfinder.
High shutter speed, High fstop and low ISO for this kind of thing. Manual mode of course. You should go with a high fstop not for the focus it brings but for the light it cuts out. Blinding stuff here. Camera sensitivity (ISO) low and a high shutter speed combined with a high fstop is basically shutting the camera down for light. Picking up dark things like a landscape isn’t going to happen but you could see a sunspot if it were there. Using a standard DSLR camera could blind you for this since there is a direct path of light to your eye. I use only the aforementioned “Mirrorless” cameras (Removable Lens Mirrorless) in my photographic habits of pointing a big light gathering lens directly at the sun. Note that ALL mirrorless cameras are not rated to look directly into the sun without a filter so do your research. They can get spots burnt onto the smaller sensors by the focused light. The Sony Alpha 7 (large sensor) cameras I use have been doing this for well over a year now thousands of time…no spots burnt in anywhere ever…. Please don’t go blind trying to do this if you don’t have a mirrorless camera where your looking at the scene via video. (disclaimer).
Perspective is Everything #6 (Down Yonder by the Fence line) was taken because the highlights on the fence stood out like a sore thumb. This was a nice stainless wire untouched by rust and it was popping for me. Just the highlights please📸
This is actually a very wide angle shot.
Location: Northern Campbell Country Wyoming borderlands.
This wide 2:1 aspect image was taken that very First Moment of Twillight When the Sun Just Went Down.
Its a simple sunset and with real unmolested colors. Remember I’m a photorealist. What you see is how I remember it.
A 2:1 aspect ration can print to 50 inches is possible with some of these wide prints. Also some of these wide aspects can be broken into three separate images for a triplet on the wall.
The image above of a Sunset on a 40 mile distant Ridge was taken last week. I can tell pretty closely now by the size of the trees versus the apparent size of the sun…in this particular lens, how far out something is lol.
I’m publishing this post on Sunday afternoon for autoposting on tuesday night but I answer post responses and questions live most mornings in and around my personal page. .