Here “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill is doing what he does best, get into my landscapes. I have no control over his actions…..😎 (years old narrative).🤣
The window to the Big Horn Mountains from my ranch has 130 miles of atmosphere between my high ridge location and those 13,000 foot high peaks… I see them maybe once a week. It was windy but this is still a 1/15th second time exposure in order to blur the windmill sail.
This was a missed post so I manually posted this this AM. I’m not sure how I screwed it up but here I am working live and not a week out lolol.
I was driving to check some game trail cameras at a nearby wildlife funnel. I saw the parents bolt for my presence. We surprised each other as I only check cameras when I’m in an area which might be several weeks. This image is a regular camera issue . I think it took me about 2 minutes to have a 360 degree game trail camera on the location. I have some excellent images of the the parents tending their eggs. The Game Trail Cameras worked without me bothering them. I have a few finished images of that apparently that I have yet to revisit but I’ll get there lolol.
There was NO hatch of this nest. . The parents were obviously disturbed by something. They left the eggs. (not by me as the trail camera watched them for a month tending eggs. ). Suddenly, they were gone. The eggs scattered. I don’t know what happened to them. I do have a pretty good series of very close images from them with the eggs. Several other animals apparently took advantage of the nest after that. I have blurry photos. The night a raccoon found them was the last. It’s hard to know why the clutch didn’t hatch and the parents departed. 😔
These wetlands are on ranch. They are spring fed, as such in 20 years I’ve never seen this pond dry up. Built by a dam on the old local section of the “Montana to Texas Cattle Trail”. A LOT of cattle have drunk water from this pond. The trains started hauling cattle..
BigHorn Longhorns is a capture from earlier this summer. The peach colored alpenglow and purple mountain hues really accent the rich green of the pasture. This was a very good year for grass. It was hugging the hill here. It was as high as the cattle down in the fertile washes.
Alpenglow is the result of atmospheric ice refracting light. The purples hues also come due to ice. All with lots of help from the the red light that make it through that hundreds of miles thick filter. I find peach colored alpenglow is not that common. I very carefully exposed that sky to match what I saw. Bear in mind that the cattle are 300-400 yards out. The first blue ridge is 40 miles out. The Big Horn Mountains are 130 miles distant from my lens. I had to find just the right spot in the 3D topography out here to line this up.
Both those were Bulls (at that time lololol). Now they are steers……… Nothing is certain up here but Winter and brown season lol. This picture hopefully will take you back to that early summer day.
This is a very long 800mm lens. With an 800 from here, I can just fit the main peaks of the BigHorns in the frame from this distance. You need to use a pretty high f-stop to get this deep a focus. Distance from the closest object is your friend in this kind of image. Deep focal fields come at the expense of loosing light. Your already in a low light environment in twilight. Tripods help a LOT.
BigHorn Longhorns is a capture from earlier this summer. The peach colored alpenglow and purple mountain hues really accent the rich green of the pasture. This was a very good year for grass. It was hugging the hill here. It was as high as the cattle down in the fertile washes.
A result of atmospheric ice suspended in the atmosphere, Alpenglow colors the scene. The purples hues come with help from the the red light that make it through that hundreds of miles thick filter. I find peach is not that common. I very carefully exposed that sky to match what I saw. Bear in mind that the cattle are 300-400 yards out. The first blue ridge is 40 miles out. The Big Horn Mountains are 130 miles distant from my lens. I had to find just the right spot in the 3D topography out here to line this up.
Both those were Bulls (at that time lololol). Now they are steers……… Nothing is certain up here but Winter and brown season lol. This picture hopefully will take you back to that early summer day. Tired of the cold I already am.
Our Corriente’ herd has intermingled with the angus this winter. They will mooch when they can . Bossy to a cow, they know how to use their horns. IF they want through a fence, they pretty much walk through it. Fortunately, the old cows in the herd pretty much keep everyone close by. THey mingle with the angus but they know they are “better” in their mind. 😜
Layered BigHorn Mountain Landscape: It’s mid-November and a HUGE hay crop was everywhere in this country. Still picking them up this late in the year. Boy there are still a lot of haybales to move. I caught the a hydraulically equipped hay truck stopped long enough to take this 1 second exposure. They had been at this all day and it was pretty dark and were still hauling. There were hundreds to pick up this year.
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 is about 1/100th with a telephoto so your going to have to compensate for the lack of light somehow. 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. The first rule of photography is get the shot. The second rule is get it right !.
Longer time exposures give your camera a chance to gather light the easy way. You always want as LOW and ISO as you can get away with. Low light images like this look wonderful if done on a tripod. Not so much hand held. I use a clamp on my car window with my favorite tripod head on it that mates to my cameras.
Twilight Over the BigHorn Mountains is of course a night sky in late civil twilight. The 13000 foot high peaks at 130 miles out from my lens. This is a 2 second time exposure and it was very dark out. Once the sun goes down, there is still an hour and a half sky show through the three twilights. You just need a good tripod and time exposures to see the show sometimes. I have photographed many of these from start to finish. This week has been incredible.
Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.
Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise. Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight.
In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. . Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.
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?
Sun Slide Composite: Taken about a minute apart, the sun slides into the Notch between two 13,000 foot high peaks of the Big Horn Mountains.
Setting suns move from left to right as well as the earth rising up to cover it’s face, the sun fell into that Notch. I’m pretty sure he couldn’t get out because it gradually got darker and then nothing. 😝
The Big Horns Mountains only Align with the setting sun and my ranch a few days a year and only one will the sun set into the notch. I’ve been trying to get this image for 20 years .. This week I had a pretty cooperative weather window. More of these will be incoming as I get them scheduled. I do occasionally travel to extend the alignment but there are only a few places high enough to see 130 miles to these peaks.
The BigHorn Mountain range is of course 130 miles out. This is a long 1200mm telephoto shot . There is a LOT of atmosphere between my camera ant the V notch. The area of the sky covered by this image at this distance is the size of a postage stamp at arms length or smaller. These mountains are WAY out there which I can see because I’m on a high ridge. There is another ridge down in the shadows that prevents me from seeing this if I’m not high enough up in elevation. Just a few spots for this angle.
The Play of light behind these peaks that night was spectacular to watch through the long lenses I use. I watch this essentially on video. Don’t try this with a standard DSLR camera with a direct light path to your eye. You will likely blind yourself. Please be careful. I use a mirrorless camera but even then if your camera isn’t rated for this, you could damage your gear.
This Complex Sunrise Big Sky image is on the Wyoming/Montana border looking east. Both states in the image. This is a “fully involved” sky
While Montana Claims the “Big Sky” moniker, Wyoming certainly shares it. Our ranch is in both states and MOST of my images have both states well represented in the capture. I’m one of the few photographers that can legitimately post an image in both states Facebook forums lolol.
This is called a “Sunrise” but in fact it is still in Civil Twilight a full 15 minutes before the sun actually rose. This is still a night sky. Day starts when the horizon drops away from covering the sun. Twilight is my favorite time of the day. I photographically work almost every morning but clear sky cloudless mornings. There are SOOOO many cloudless gradient twilight images in my portfolio lolol. Certainly I don’t need many more.
Going out in the twilight before sunrise into the backcountry is alway interesting. I often run into still bedded deer, most of which don’t care that I’m driving by, stop, take a photo and move on… I get some of my best wildlife photography done coming back from working morning twilights. I’ve done this many hundreds of times. Over time, you get lucky and random encounters start to add up if you have the right gear and ability to work in morning golden hour light. Twilight low light is a whole different group of settings lolol. The transition from twilight to sunlight is rapid.
I have a lot of this same sky looking west taken the evening of this same day overlooking the Big Horn Mountains. You will see these as they get finished/posted.
Location: Standing directly On the “Wyoming with Montana” border, Bliss DInosaur Ranch,
Surface Geology north of Ucross View to the BigHorns
What a wonderful glacial terrain. The geologist in me sees all sorts of evidence of past glaciers in this valley. Dozens and dozens of “signs”. First of course is the obvious proximity to a 13,000 foot mountain chain. In the last 1/2 million years we have had 5 glaciations advance and retreat in North America (world wide too). We are in an interglacial period at the moment and a mild one fortunately for us. Warm is good, cold means famine historically.
If you look at the valley floor in this scene, note the bumpy nature of the terrain. Each of those bumps is a pile of gravel with all sorts of geomorphological names depending on their shape and relationship to the glacier that was running through this valley. They are all water sorted gravels in various kinds of shapes and sizes. The gravel piles were mostly formed as the glacier receded and left it’s gravel load behind as the ice melted. The geomorphologists out there call glacial gravel “Boulder Clay” because that is pretty much what it is. Boulders and smaller all mixed up.
The rounded mound in the foreground caught my attention. I think (as I didn’t walk out there) that it is bedrock based on the vegetation change at the top. Those upper layers were very hard and resisted the erosion that removed all around it protecting the softer material below. The aforementioned glacier looks like it rode over it giving it that rounded mound like appearance. Classic.
Banded Sky over the BigHorns was captured last week as this posts.
I only get a couple of times a year that this line up occurs. I can travel further north and/or south if necessary. My limiting factor is always weather windows that long . The places you can see/work the Big Horns located within 20 miles of my Ranch, I can count on both hands. There is a lot of high ground for sure but getting up there is another thing lolol. A lot of snow will keep me off the really high hard to get to ridges this time of year.
Northeastern Wyoming is big country with bigger views. It is 130 miles to the Big Horns as seen here. The clouds are probably 50 miles behind that. There is a 50 mile horizon the other directions. I know a peak that you can see South Dakota AND the Big Horns by simply turning 180 around and looking both ways. That’s close to 200 miles easily.
Big Sky country applies to both Montana AND Wyoming as the right side of this image is in Montana. This image is 130 miles deep and 130 miles wide at the horizon 😲📸
As a 2:1 aspect, The full file is 40×20 inches at 300dpi. Real colors. I always expose the highlights properly as per the sky I’m looking at. Color Density is Strongly controlled by your exposure time. If you look at your mirrorless camera screen, what you see is what you get. By changing shutter speed I could have turned this all golden yellow. If full disclaimer: This is a side by side 2 image composite of 2 high resolution images. BIG file and high res.
Sunset ON the BigHorn Mountains : Boy was that bright 😎
There are two ridges here. The lowest darker ridge is the top of the “Red Hills” 40 miles distant. The second ridge is the Bighorn Mountain Chain 130 miles out. The clouds and snow storms were moving across the top of the peaks. With the sun here cutting into the cloud deck obscuring the high peak on the right. . The scene was very intense and bright with all the ice in the air acting like a projector screen. . The foreground trees are a few hundred yards out on this 1200 mm telephoto shot . Sunset ON the Bighorn Mountains
This is the second evening this fall that I’ve had “Sort” of a weather window. Seeing the Big Horns such a long ways away isn’t common. I remind you that this area of the sky is about the size of a postage stamp at arms length. All the while through a 3 foot long lens. Observing this scene change by the second as the clouds moved by quickly. I was moving between trees during this shooting. I wanted to see what the parallel ridge would present as far as opportunity to frame this scene. The sun is only setting over the Big Horn Mountains for a few more days this fall. I keep moving north while the sun moves to the south. This keeps the angle until it doesn’t lolol.
Sunset ON the Bighorn Mountains was sooo bright…. F57 was the final fstop setting at 1/2000th at ISO 100 were the settings. The high fstop (maximum for this Canon supertelephoto) accounts for the trees in the foreground being in focus at all. The trees on the first ridge are in focus too but the clouds and moisture is blurring the Big Horns at that great a distance.
Winds Over the Big Horns Kicking up a Ground Blizzard:
I don’t see this very often either. Actively viewing the 130 intervening miles of landscape is difficult. These massive peaks are typically shrouded by mists and cloud covering . This is actually a night shot. The sun having set several minutes prior to this click. The sun’s influence though is still brightly illuminating the Blowing Snow. That is being kicked up by the hurricane winds. Hard to see blowing snow Up high on the Big Horns up on those 13,000 feet high peaks and backlighting all that isn’t easy lol.
That is a tough environment up there lol. Winds over the Bighorns are definitely making some snow drifts up high in this capture. I’m limited seeing these distant peaks by weather and clouds usually…Not so much this night lol. It’s totally cloudless but for the ground blizzard on the peaks.
Catching the sun setting behind the Big Horns has been a bucket list item of mine for 20 years. By coincidence I have never been able to get this angle and weather to cooperate.. I had to drive 10 miles south to get it this time… As the sun sets each day a little bit left, as I travel right, it keeps the sun still on the range as I move positions northward. Finding a spot to actually see over that high intervening ridge (Red Hills) , is not as easy.
Hopefully I’ll get lucky again this year and get a second chance at this alignment. A majority of the time, I can’t see the range at this distance due to the aforementioned weather window.
This was taken on the pass to RockyPoint Wyoming on Trail Creek Road.
This is far northern Campbell Country Wyoming about 5 miles from Montana. It is 40 miles to the first dark ridge in the image. 800mm telephotos help a lot :). This is a VERY small area of the sky I’m photographing here. Hold a small postage stamp at the end of your reach and that is the size of this photo against the entire sky. 😜
The stratified cloud layer was rippled and in a perfect position to be lit from underneath by the sun as it dropped below the layer. It was heavily occluded before it got into the open air under the clouds. Big Sky yes but there is Herringbone sunset sky of both Wyoming AND Montana sky in this wide angle capture. (Most of my images have both states in them in one way or another).
The Herringbone pattern is not that common in my experience. Everything has to line up just right to get this kid of patterning/highlighting of just the low parts of the cloud layer. As soon as the heat from the sun hit this layer, the extra heat pretty much evaporated the clouds. Soon the sky went mostly clear for the actual sunset roughly 15 minutes later.
This location is only about a mile off the gravel road which this time of year is iffy. What you can’t see in this is the 5 or 6 inches of snow we have on the ground now. It’s been dang close to zero for several nights now. This is very early winter weather in my experience living up here in the borderlands. We get the best of both states AND the worst at times. Sometimes that is weather and other times it’s weather. 🤔😀
I’ve been busting still small drifts but I won’t go much off the paths now as it is really really slick and if you get into a hole, your not going to get out. They become gravity wells and even my jeep with full time 4 wheel drive has issues getting out of those in the winter. Don’t drop a tire off the level for anything. Hopefully I will only have this Jeep another month or two as I do have a higher smoother riding replacement coming with a 2020 build date likely lol.
I’ve been trying to get this shot for 20 years. It was bright to say the least. A totally unclouded alpenglow sky (atmospheric ice). The sun is 93 million miles out and the ranch is only 130 miles out from the Big Horn’s Ridge line. The black Ridge (known as the “Red Hills” at the bottom is 40 miles out from my camera lens. I’m at the same elevation as the Red Hills where I’m standing for this capture. “Big Horn Mountain’s Sunset”
Rare (ish) confluence of Events, Photographic musings:
Catching a sunset on a 13,000 (Thirteen Thousand) feet high ridge from 130 miles away is a matter of proper positioning, timing and gear. I had to travel 10 miles south to get this image, I set up on early on tripods two long lenses, (800 and 1200mm). *This image came from a new Sony Alpha 7R4 which gives me a 60 meg .jpg out of the camera) The sun will set in the notch on the left in two days from the same location. If I slowly move north to my ranch, I can delay the travel time down the range by changing the angle between the sun, the range and myself… I have never seen this until the other night. Close but not on the peaks..
Tough to get Weather Window to the distant peaks.
Weather is the most unpredicatable variable. I get to see the Big Horns from my vantage point a few times a week. There is always be clear days… Having said that, I haven’t had a window to this angle of sunset through the weather (clouds) for this in 20 years of living here. Usually there are obscuring moisture, clouds, ice or otherwise no view exists of the Bighorns. This particular day was a VERY clear day all day. I have big long photos of several directions from one of the highest points around here. Behind me there was a WONDERFUL Belt of Venus (BOV) against the Missouri Buttes and Devils Tower Landscape. I did some time exposures of the pink BOV sky over that volcanic neck complex this evening after the sunset. Stay tuned for that.
A good quality 800mm lens (bigger than 800mm lenses at this distance make for multiple photo composites. This is a full sized 2×3 foot print from one image. . It would be bigger if it were composite as in a 2:1 aspect instead of a simple landscape 2×3. You might want some neutral density filters in front of your lenses unless your using a Sony Alpha or other similar large format sensors. I will testify for the Sony surviving direct sun images. I don’t profess to know how your camera will survive so best safe than sorry. Don’t let the sun burn a hole in your cameras sensor. .
Color. It’s hard to know ahead of time (at the click) how an image is going to finish. This is a rediculous light environment for any camera. Under this much bright light and glare through atmospheric ice, it usually will finish in burnt umber, crimson or orange. This one did the crimson route. No one can look into this scene with the naked eye and tell me what it looks like as it would blind you. 15 f-stops of dynamic range on this Sony Alpha 7R4 camera back.. 🤔😲 The human eye has 21. No filters in front of this lens. Zip. Most consumer cameras have 10, 11 maybe 12 fstops.
This was captured with a Mirrorless camera and I was looking at this scene on video so there is no direct light path to my eye. Do not try this with your equipment if it is a small sensor mirrorless camera not rated for this OR it is a standard DSLR that has a direct path to your eye from the sun. It will be the last thing you see in that eye with an 800mm telephoto gathering light and focusing it on your retina. 😎 Protect your eye. Your photography will end if they do. Title “Big Horn Mountain’s Sunset”
Capturing a Big Horn Sun Pillar: I had to drive about 10 miles south of my ranch to have this line up a few days ago to Capture this Sun Pillar over the Big Horn Mountains. The weather window between me and those little 13,000 foot high peaks just left of the sun has been closed recently. As I type this, tonight looks to be a repeat of this performance but the sun will be over the V notch . It’s all about weather, moisture in the air mostly, maybe smoke these days. We will see……So I’ll take a drive to start with with a LONG lens say 600 mm tonight before sunset…
Looks like a gas flame off the ridge to me lolol… Those Hills are 130 miles out from the camera. This image is 100 miles wide as well at the Big Horns.
There is a lot to be said for having a mirrorless camera built to look right at a really bright sun. Of course you would never look through a standard DSLR camera to do this. The direct optic path through the camera to your retina would blind you. Don’t try this with a DSLR. Only use mirrorless cameras for such things where you are looking at a video of what your are taking a photo of. Know what is safe before you try this at home. You could also damage your gear if it’s not rated for this. My Sony’s do fine (large sensor Alpha 7’s. )
This light level is a pretty rarified ultra-bright playground for most photographers…. you obviously need Manual Camera settings. High F-stop, High shutter speed and Low ISO. Your basically shutting the camera down to light. But you have to have enough to see the silhouettes in the image. Every camera setting depends on lenses and lighting so using my system of priorities, you figure out the settings pretty quickly.
You know your not going to be shaking the camera at high shutter speeds of 1/2000th or so. Iso 100 which is as low and most cameras under 1200 bucks for the body go. And balance the light equation with f-stop. F-stop is aperture size…. higher number means smaller aperture. Your basically looking here at one focal plane at infinity so ANY f-stop setting will work. Changing f-stop higher will just defract light a bit more but with high settings , you get less light into the camera than low f-stop numbers. (low f-stop # = big aperture/pupil of the camera)
There, now you know everything I know about setting up your camera for this high light.
Being a 2:1 Aspect image at high resolution, this is two 560mm shots side by side combined in the digital dark room. It is a composite but an accurate one showing the scene as my Sony Alpha 7R4 saw it.
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).
Back Country Gravel Travel and Sunset over the Big Horn Mountains. I was driving back from Gillette and went the long way around by Recluse Wyoming. Elk Creek Road is a long High path with big views of the surrounding lower ground. Those are indeed the Big Horn Mountains about 90 miles out from the camera. I’m about 40 miles west from my ranch at this location.
The air was pretty still and the dust from my passing hung in the air. This actually is a major source of particulates in the countries air. All the dirt roads add up. Still a mongolian dust storm puts out more I suspect lolol. The last dust bloom on the left was about 4 miles out. Location: Northern Campbell Country Wyoming. Backcountry 14 miles from Recluse Wyoming.
This might be the biggest backyard drift ever but there are some big drifts in the mountains lol. The building on the left is in front of a 300 foot long metal barn that acts as a wind block to about a 3 square mile field to the north (right). All that loose snow ends up here each year. I know this is a little out of season but I’m posting ALL my best old work again for some business purposes.
This photo is featured “The Living Wyoming (a Photographic Tribute exploring the NE Quadrant of Wyoming on page 98 if you have access to Robert Edgerton’s wonderful photo essay of this area.
I get a chance at this each year. This year the weather didn’t cooperate. Perhaps this winter will top this with all the water we’ve been having. That would be something lolol.
Have a great day all
Location: my backyard, the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
This Pronghorn bucks straight on look was a good portrait opportunity. Taking the time to turn the camera side ways can loose a capture like this one lol. They tend to be a bit “flighty” at times and you get their white butts running away as a photo…🤣
This is a big ol’ boy too. You don’t see many with horns taller than this.