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Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset
Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

This is the Sun…not the Moon. During the forest fire smoke Month of August 2020, I had “SOME” opportunity to play with the subdued / occluded sun under otherwise clear skies. Of course the smoke moderated the intensity of the light. That REALLY helped with the technical issues of taking a blurred windmill against a still very bright object. It’s easier to do with lens filters on the camera (Neutral Density) but I don’t use anything in front of my lenses 99.9 percent of the time. This is raw in the camera stuff.

There is a lens artifact in the sail of the windmill pointing from the sun to towards the center of the spinning dish. I left it in the image as I liked it lol. Lens artifacts are a result of light bouncing around inside the lens. Usually a lot of light. I’ve fought them before being too intense glaring out the whole image. The subdued sun makes all this possible.

The lighting through this smoke pall reminds me seriously of the total eclipse a few years back. I watched that total eclipse in Douglas Wyoming. There was an odd shading at first followed by a progressive “dusky” feeling. Life under this pall beside the breathing issues, is very similar to that odd eclipselighting both in illumination value and overall feeling.

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

Title: Blurry Smokey Windmill Sunset

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Smoke Pall Over Wyotana

Smoke Pall Over Wyotana
Smoke Pall Over Wyotana

Smoke Pall Over Wyotana

I really didn’t like going out into this. It’s nothing I haven’t been exposed to much worse fighting fires but…. That ridge is 40 miles out visible last night. The visibility this AM (7 days ago when this posts) was less than 3 miles. 10 times this bad. The sun literally set in just a few minutes as the pall ascended to cover it’s face.

This has been a very dry year west of here. As bad as it is up here, it’s worse over by Sheridan and surrounding areas. Of course we are not nearly as bad as the poster child of rough years… California. Gotta love 100 degrees and rolling brown outs. This image represents a Wyoming/Montana Brown out so to speak. The grass here now is considered “hour fuel”. Hour fuels are combustibles that can be soaking wet but within an hour will readily ignite. Red Flag warnings are wide spread through out the south west. They occasionally work their way up into this country too.

We had lightning later around midnight that day. Fortunately it rained well enough to keep any lightning strike from taking off. Of course struck trees can smolder for days…. I go up on ridges often this time of year. Looking for that tell tale smoke plume. I’m carrying 50 gallons of water on “Clever Girl” and a portable water filled back pack. It does a good job on small hot spots. IF you can knock something out quickly, it’s better than letting it get big I assure you lolol. I’m not a tough as I used to be though but I’m often looking. Being there is everything.

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

Title: Smoke Pall Over Wyotana

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Windmill Silhouette Full Moon

Windmill Silhouette Full Moon
Windmill Silhouette Full Moon

Windmill Silhouette Full Moon

Augusts full moon is commonly known as the “Sturgeon Moon” because the giant sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this part of summer. Moons seem to be named after significant feeding events in human history. Not quite how that happens.

More folk names of this moon include: The “Wheat Cut Moon”, “Moon When All Things Ripen, the “Full Green Corn Moon”, and the “BlueBerry Moon”. Publicity seeking of course, this Aermotor Windmill jumped in front of the bigger personality photobombing the scene. Hehas been around for 80-100 years anyway. In the 1930’s there was a homestead nearby and supposedly a log mill. I have yet to find ANY trace of a log mill on my ground. Prairie Paparazzis as myself am always keen on finding out who is hanging with what. 😜

As I type this narrative, we are under a “New Moon”. Half way through the 28 day moon cycle. Coming up in October of 2020, there will be a rare blue moon. The last blue moon was March 31’st 2018. They don’t come around too often thus the term “Once in a Blue Moon”. I pay a lot of attention to lunar cycles in chasing this photogenic fellow. There are only a few days a month I can do this kind of work. Then usually several of those windows get closed due to weather. The time for Orange Harvest Moons is afoot. All the forest fires are going to supplement the color shows this fall. That is until the snow come. I’m betting on a hard winter up here.

Title: Windmill Silhouette Full Moon

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Hide and Seek with a Comet

Hide and Seek with a Comet
Hide and Seek with a Comet

Hide and Seek with a Comet

Can you find the Comet??? It’s a big comet plus it is in the photo….👀

Here I caught Comet Neowise trying to hide. I consider myself a landscape photographer…. Images in my mind of mountains and Waterfalls come to mind. Instead I get trees with their own mystical ways of trying to conceal others around them. The comet knowing this, took full advantage to hide from your faithful photographer. In all honesty this is supposed to be a naked eye comet but hiding apparently is a Cometary tendency…. 😜

Using time exposures at night is an interesting pursuit if not outside my preferred work environment. Backcountry at night is an entirely different type of travel. Of course I have excellent lights on the Raptor but they tend to overpower with long time exposures. Instead I used a small handheld flashlight over 20 seconds and hand painted the trees with light. Sweeping over trees I wanted highlighted several times with the beam over that interval. Places I wanted dark, I didn’t sweep the light across so much.

The two dead trees (one standing and the fallen soldier below) were killed when this steep hill side slumped/slid about 20 feet shearing off their deep roots killing the trees. The jumbled surface around them still less than a century old, testifies to the earths inexorable movement toward the ultimate sink, the sea. The newspaper headline reads: Neowise Comet Hiding over Century old Landslide lolol.

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

Title: Hide and Seek with a Comet

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Neowise Against the Star Field

Neowise Against the Star Field
Neowise Against the Star Field

Neowise Against the Star Field

As with most of my work finished on a big computer monitor, full screen is preferred. Click the image to enlarge.

I’m always trying to experiment with different lighting when I do night time exposures. Here I used my yellow flashing light on the top of my Raptor (I often block backcountry roads for 10’s of minutes at a time so I like a warming strobe). So the flashing strobe is like a flash bulb but in yellow. Of course we are in a drought and the grass is brown anyway. The color cast added to the scene I thought for the Close/far perspective. I have another version of this with LED white light. Just as this, the suffuse foreground lighting diminished up the hill. Stay tuned for that image.

The star field is just about properly exposed, sharp and well populated. Interestingly, the longer you leave open the shutter, the more stars that keep appearing. Our sky here on the Montana/Wyoming border 70 miles from the nearest bright city is as dark as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA. One of the darkest skies in the United States. If you have a sensitive camera and a steady surface you can just about fill the frame with stars. There is close to 1000 visible in this photo alone.

When you are leaving the shutter open for 10-15 seconds at a time, ANY movement of the truck the camera is mounted on will ruin the image. It was periodically gusty during this shoot. Therefore MOST of the images I took during this timeline were ruined by the movement. No fixing 1000 stars with blur tails. Ground tripods with really long lenses are better than vehicles due to the smaller wind profile.

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

Title: Neowise Against the Star Field

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Sunslit Over Turtle Butte

Sunslit Over Turtle Butte
Sunslit Over Turtle Butte

Sunslit Over Turtle Butte

Taken from “Sunrise Ridge”. That is a magical place that gives me view to the east as varied as you can imagine. While the area I work hard photographically has is long list of beautiful things, I lack waterfalls, huge mountains and National Monuments/Parks in the front yard. A flowing river has always been a dream. But here I am stuck on a dry ranch.

Dryland ranching sounds romantic because it’s ranching of course…. Dryland when it’s actually really dry… not so much. The Dryland part is a quirk of fate. I ALMOST bought a ranch way across the state at Clark Wyoming right on the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone river there. I would have ended up doing similar “hobbies” there as well. No matter where you are, there you are I have found in my travels. No dinosaurs in Clark but that area of the country is somewhat complex geologically. Interesting stuff laying around everywhere. Yellowstone right over your shoulder. Good seat if it blows too…. I digress..

Silhouettes of trees with just a bit of green showing in the shadow nether world. The ability of the camera to look into the sun AND see detail against the brilliant sun is blocked by technological limitations. I could set the camera so that it COULD see the detail in the silhouetted areas (dark areas) OR detail in the sun but getting both is beyond most technology requiring only one shot. Stacking multiple images with different settings can give you the best of all the worlds. That is a process that I don’t like for it’s complexity certainly but more importantly

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

Title: Sunslit Over Turtle Butte

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Windmill Watching Comet Neowise

Windmill Watching Comet Neowise
Windmill Watching Comet Neowise

Windmill Watching Comet Neowise

This full color image taken just outside the north fence of our homestead here in the Montana/Wyoming borderlands. Best tail of a comet I’ve ever taken and I’ve done a few over the decades back to Halley’s Comet in the 1980’s. The surprise Comet Neowise C/2020 F3 is it’s official designation. IT is a naked eye comet in this dark sky environment. Enjoy it as it’s not coming back for another 7000 years. So this will have to do. Let me know what it looks like next pass around the sun. It’s a big one with a 3 mile diameter nucleus. The orange tail totally took me by surprise. I could barely see the windmill in the viewfinder as this presented as pretty much a black screen with a few blotches on it lol. Focusing by instinct really.

I suggest about 3 AM though this was taken around 3:45 AM. I was “working” the comet after doing photography yesterday afternoon AND last sunset. It’s been a pretty short night. I might take a nap today…… Doing night photography is a whole different animal I point out. Not having light makes for a host of issues you have to deal with inside the camera and outside.

Photographic Musings:

With a long lens (this zoom was set to 300mm. Now the hard part with no light, is that turning your shutter speed to 10 seconds makes it VERY hard to focus precisely. Some “messing around” and testing the waters is necessary. Also there has to be some extra camera sensitivity (ISO) to boost the already silly low amount of light coming into the camera. A really good challenge.

Close / Far perspectives are complex during the daylight. This is a 10 out of 10 difficulty image requiring a tripod, proper shutter settings, not too high an ISO and enough F-stop to be able to focus BOTH close and far objects. Razors edge stuff… My lighting source are the low beams on my Ford F-150 Raptor. The LED light bar was TOO bright for the foreground without fogging out the background. So just a little ground light with a 10 second exposure. Any longer shutter with this long focal length, your going to get motion blur on the stars and Comet. To say this was a challenge would be an understatement. I didn’t think I had enough depth of field (focal depth) to pull it off. Got lucky I guess. Good luck trying this.

I have a few more nights to potentially work this comet. It’s all about the cloud cover. Normally I am at least 7 – 10 days out from taking a photo to publishing. This was taken this morning. Front of the line lolol.

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

Title: Windmill Watching Comet Neowise

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Moon Tree Surfing

Moon Tree Surfing
Moon Tree Surfing

Moon Tree Surfing

I call this Moon/Tree Surfing. Actually it’s me riding the moons “Shadow line” on the opposite parallel ridge. The higher ridge between me and the moon gives me a 500 yard distant foreground with the moon somewhat further behind that. I will drive along these ridges looking for places where the moon thinks he’s not being seen. Unsuspecting…. So I catch him carefully resting on the local vegetation as here. He’s just lifting off as he saw me. He certainly doesn’t need some high plains paparazzi posting his photo in the “Post” sitting down on the job. I me he has a strict schedule to keep and many things rely on the Moon’s time keeper.

From a strictly technical viewpoint, I get to do this kind of daylight illuminated foreground and the moon behind only once a month on average.. Some months the window is closed entirely by weather. Clouds do a good job obscuring what I know is going on behind them. Fortunately this was a very clear evening of July 3rd. The moon appeared full for two sunsets (3rd and 4th) plus a sunrise between. It was definitely a weekend to photograph the moon if you have the gear and the inclination. The air has been clear lately to boot making the “Seeing” on the moon’s surface good enough maybe to get out my big lenses from storage. Humm… 🤔

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

Title: Moon Tree Surfing