So I’m on a high Hill top, more or less on the local top of the world. There are a few higher points around but they are a good drive across open backcountry. Looking across the Wyoming / Montana border into Montana Sky with Wyoming Land under my feet. A VERY wide shot in excess of 90 degrees wide, this capture is about 1/4 of the sky in one image. This was a marvelous evening with very little smoke in the middle of a month + of worse smoke. We do get a day here and there of late without too much Pall. We have largely been spared from the worst of this. Having said that tonight as I type, the air is much worse than any night I remember. You couldn’t see see across this field late this after noon.
This is of course the backshow from this sunset. I have to constantly remind myself to look over my shoulder as the main show is often captivating. I have to say the lighting was only slightly red for a change this particular evening. I have been doing photography for a full month in overly red colorcast lighting so this seem pretty minimal. Considering the filtering effect of the smoke eliminating most of the blue from the light reaching the ground from the horizon. The sky overhead was blue because the light reaching there didn’t go through smoke. Blue only penetrates so far through the atmosphere before it’s filtered away. The smoke makes that happen much faster than your average evening in Wyotana.
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. 📷
Finding this landscape was a long ride. Getting up these ridges can be a chore, other places you can drive right up. It’s all about the perspective of the height of the hill. The 40+ miles wide Little Powder River valley is off in the distance. The Wyoming / Montana border is between myself and the sun at the moment. Both states being in the photo. The Wyotana area has it’s own character with a mixing of the two state cultures. No difference across the line.
The land is big and unpopulated here. An average of a little over 1 person a square mile I believe is about right. I seldom see lights other than car lights across a valley this wide. Pole lights are few and far in between. I thought the reflective lakes were a nice touch of mother nature to throw into this. Those are both spring fed artesian lakes. My ranch mostly covers the ridge right of the right lake. This location is about 300 feet higher than my ranch’s average altitude. I have a hill that is 50 feet lower than this spot but the view is entirely different as you might suspect lol.
I thought I’d end the day with an end of the day image. This was just about the last image I took that timeline. That was the end of a 3 hour photo session on the backroads of Wyotana.
Taken around 11PM at night of the LONG day we had a dangerous grass fire on ranch. I had gotten up at 3AM to work Neowise Comet the night before. LONG day. A lightning storm around 2 pm started a fire over a ridge about a mile from my homestead. Instantly upon hearing thunder I jumped in the Raptor. Used it’s agility to quickly get the heck up the 400 foot hill I climb to see around. Binocs come out. Sure enough, smoke in one of our fields and a rapidly growing area of flame in 20 mph winds. Crushed grass from hail and somewhat grazed down fortunately. It took me 20 minutes to get a fire truck to the scene. We activate the local calling tree. The counties involved were both Powder River Mt and Cambell County Wy. The fire was on the border. This conflagration harmed no dinosaurs.👀😜
We are under extreme fire danger up in the country this year with one of the driest June/July’s on record. Last year was one of the wettest. If you don’t like the Wyotana weather, stick around it will change. Such as it been since the beginning of time on earth lolol. We are loaded with hundreds of square miles of hour fuel. A Hour fuel is very combustible. Dry grass for example. Fortunately grass fires are easier to fight than timber fires. We kept it out of the timber.
So we fought that fire, after seeing the Bureau of Land Management crew sitting the fire overnight and wishing them a peaceful night under the stars, I went back toward the homestead only to be waylaid by this little thunderstorm (Mesocyclone) for another hour. Time exposures of up to 30 second. It was a little windy that night as I indicated. The trees are all blurred from moving around in the lengthly 20-30 second period of electronic shutter. Wind moving my truck/tripod is problematic. Particularly if there were any point sources of light around. Blurs result.
Note the stars in the upper right corner of the frame.
It’s dark I know. It WAS dark at the time. This was a MASSIVE spinning Mesocyclone over our heads with the curved apron off of the tower in the turning around the corner. I would estimate this was over three states of Montana/ South Dakota and Wyoming. South Dakota is 90 miles to the left of frame. The business end of this was to the left of the frame about 1/2 way to South Dakota. Long Story Short, this was a big one… ⛈
This part of the storm was collapsing and loosing some of the input into the system. These big systems rotate broadly around like a small hurricane. They have some really serious consequences at times if your at the wrong place of the storm. This unique view from under this monster was a matter of luck or unluck depending on where you are. Residents in the high plains roll the dice each time one of these fellows moves overhead. We just had a serious hail storm damaging many outside surfaces on the ranch.
Hail, Dry Lightning, tornados, straightline winds are all dangers from these. We had 4 inches of rain in less than an hour about a decade ago. It was called a 500 year rain. I personally suspect they are more common than that but there are no rain gages over most of this country lol. Hard to measure a storm that sits still for an hour dumping rain over one spot when the spot is only a few miles across. This country is thinly populated with weather stations that report to the Natl’ Weather service. If you google DW-1087… pick the Bliss Ranch reference and you will see weather conditions here on the ranch.
Summer sunsets happen early. This one at 5:31AM. The ridge I wanted to work for this had a good view of the crescent moon. Working the crescent moon from 5 AM until it was lost in the haze. Keeping busy with cameras is a good thing. I was loving the roiling distortion around the edge of the solar disk. It’s a result of the atmosphere distorting the shape and the details. The sun is ACTUALLY below the line of sight (below the horizon). The atmosphere is bending it’s image around the corner for a few minutes at the rise.
I have Sirius XM radio plus a reasonable audio system in the Raptor. This has been a good thing up here. I went out doing backcountry photography for years on an open ATV with my cameras in a open basket. No tunes…. I’ve work open ATV’s to -30. Having had cameras literally not work from the cold…. I put 3500 miles on that ATV one year doing backcountry photography only in this area.
This year, I’ve accumulated 1300 miles of only backcountry driving. In the Ford Raptor’s first 6 months. The Raptor is an all weather, all terrain, comfortable photographic studio for me to work from. There are not many places it would not go within reason up in this region if I asked it to. Think of it as a “Free Runner” which is a truck built for racing courses like the Baja 500. So far, it will do anything I ask of it that I’m not afraid to do. 📸 🤘 More hail dents than I like on it though….. ☹️
There are all sorts of characters up here on the ranch. This over looking the the now dented roofs of our home stead in our “Back Yard”, this 20 year old air pumping windmill was vent. This is what happens when you hold it in too long I suppose. One never knows what these guys are up to. I really don’t have any control over their actions thusly am just an observer. Not being sure why he was mad as he was. Sticking around wasn’t the best of ideas. I do my best to keep every body to get along. Hate to get involved sometimes. (It’s a years long narrative if your new to my world lolol).
Back to my “normal” programming. (more normal anyway).
Just to mention to you fellow pareidolia “sufferers” the large frog on the left ready to stick his tongue into the fray. There must have been a large insect off frame right I didn’t notice in time. Getting everything in frame is hard sometimes. 4 of the 5 lenses I use daily are zoomable. Every possibility is covered that way. I like to think I can take a photo of anything that I can see and somethings I cant. I only use one fixed lens and it is the widest single lens I own at 10mm. This was 200 mm at some distance from the foreground. Both types of lenses have their benefits. Generally the fixed lens has more accurate images. You have to back up to fit your subject in the lens though lolol. Not with a zoom…😜
Feeling like I was playing “Wheel of Fortune” with Pat Sajack M.C. ing and Vanna White doing the presentations. I took it from a dozen different zoom perspectives and it’s absolutely genuine / unphotoshopped. I swear no tampering with my hand on a stack of geology books.
There is actually have a small but growing collection of natural letter images from the clouds and other objects. It will take a while before I put it all together into an alphabet. There are some hard ones left to get lol. Wasn’t Chuck Woolery an M.C. too ????.. Is it even still on? I watch occasional TV as I mostly watch clouds instead.
For you folks that see familiar shapes in random cloud patterns, there is a nice Goofy™ Dog in there hiding behind the F___ . Pareidolia sufferers, you know who you are. I am terribly endowed with the ability to see shapes of familiar objects in random shaped images. I’m a walking Rorschach visualizing machine. I actually can mirror images in my mind to see the imaginarium with the random data scatter. (I see things in clouds ALL the time). 😜
Mother nature might have just tried to spell my name too and I just need to come back at another time to get the R, A, N, K. I do believe that it would be a matter of time before such letters will be formed by natural processes. The question is will I be there with a camera (rule #1 of Photography) when it happens.
Up on the highest ridges here in the borderlands, besides the view, I see a myriad of habitats. Large patches of Yucca (Spanish Dagger, Our Lord’s candle, Joshua tree, and Adam’s needle.) exist here with a large wild rose bush (rose hips) on the eastern slope (less hot) of this ridge. The tall yucca flower stalks provide a majority of the food for the Ungulates up here (Mule Deer, WhiteTail Deer and Pronghorn) Elk eat them too where Elk habitat exists. There is a small herd somewhere near here. We also have itinerate bulls come through now and then.
This eventing was one of smaller storms moving through mostly miss rather than hit. We stayed dry that evening (notice a theme lately with the dry thing?). We got .6 of an inch a few days ago as I type this. It would be nice to have several inches. They yucca will do fine through the drought. It’s tough as nails.
For many centuries, yucca plants of various species have served American Indians for a variety of uses. Not restricted as fiber for rope, sandals and cloth. The roots have been used as a soaping agent. Whe food was short early Californian settlers along with Native Americans used the green pods for food. Native Americans boiled and baked the fruits, eating the blossoms, chewed the raw leaves. Apparently they had a technique of fermenting the fruits to produce a beverage for rituals.. Ummm . I actually think the flowers are fine in a salad. Never eaten roasted seeds before.
An irregularly shaped cloud cooperated here in this unusual lighting display put on for me here in late June 2020. It had been sprinkling all day with dark evil looking but harmless clouds. Lots of moisture in the air…. My biggest fear is lightning at the moment as this country is dry for the year. Missed the water that day. Fortunately, by means of compensation, the weather provided me this spot lit stage . The 10 miles to the first dark ridge in deep shadow was the hard part to capture with it being quite dark versus the ultra bright clouds. A cameras ability to bring out the dynamic range of a photo is something you want to buy into if your looking for a camera.
This display is an inverted downward “crown sky” (as I call them on my gallery). They are fairly rare while the more typical upward pointed rays at sunset more often are seen. I MIGHT see one a year this well developed. All the water vapor/moisture in the air along with actual precipitation acted to reflect the light to my lens. Of course I have many versions of this and will finish 3 maybe 4 of them. I’ve seen a few of this kind of show over the years. I suspect I could count the number of Crepuscular displays so complete I’ve captured to around a dozen.
Jagged Clouds are responsible for passing light. It’s the wide perspective of that light streaming through the gaps in the clouds that lends it’s fan shaped view to the observer. The phenomena makes it appear as if the sun is a mile or two above the cloud deck. Just follow the angles lolol. I assure you, the sun is a “few” miles up above the clouds. 😜
There are nice twilights and then there are ones like this one. It’s almost Art if it wasn’t absolutely real as I saw the event. The Golden Alpenglow derived from the ice in the air, was resultant from suspended ice in the air. The longest day of the summer (Solstice) and ice was acting as a projector screen. Filtering some of the light passing through to spotlight the sun’s long traveled red rays on the cloud deck above. This dramatic opening act was just a preview of the sunrise to come. Sometimes these morning shows last well over an hour…. This one was around that. One hour is FOREVER in my world…. 😜
The air at my back was moving with a definite chill. Mid-June is an odd time to have to wear a good jacket but at 5:30 AM with a breeze, dress for the part. I have found this location that I call Sunrise Ridge). Such is “Fairly” easy to get to. It’s about a mile of bumpy two track roads. The journey takes me past several Game Trail Cameras thusly I had ulterior motives. Some mornings as this are so beautiful for so long I end up with 8 or 9 hundred images for the timeline. I’m sure I surpassed 1000 with the various camera/lens combinations I used to study this drama. The longer the show, the more clicking that occurs amazingly. 😃
During sunset a few days ago, I habitually turned around during a very colorful sunset. After picking my jaw off the dirt…. Looking over your shoulder can often be well worth your time. Certainly true in bear country but up here during sunset, the back shows can be as impressive as the sunset. The scene was dark so is the image.
I’ve very interested in trying to get the colors scheme accurate to the scene I experienced live. This one is very blue/cyan to my normal published image because that is the actual color of the sky at that moment. I was shocked that it wasn’t just grey with tinged pink clouds, but the cyan was there. I made a mental note of it. It was a rare color in my experience. The drift from day to dusk twilight was a colorcast experience on this evening. This sky was complex all around the periphery of my viewpoint. More or less the whole atmospheric dome above me was worthy of photography that evening. I was happy to comply working it with 3 different camera/lens combinations on a rotating basis lol.
Oh, the repeating cloud pattern on the horizon is a series of Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds. They are a fairly rare phenomenon, where a cloud produces a billowing breaking wave pattern. They occur when there is a strong vertical shear between two air streams, causing winds to blow faster at the upper level than at the lower levels. Filed under rare weather phenomena lol.
Driving toward the Montana / Wyoming border to work a high spot for a veiled sunset. Rapidly developing, light conditions change by the second. I’m trying to get somewhere to photograph the “sunsets” timeline when I saw this developing. From inside my truck on a remote county road at sunset, a meadowlark was enjoying the sunset. Famous for their vocalizations, they are a challenge to just get a photo of in my experience. Lining one up with a veiled sun is a bucket list item. Now if I can only get an American Eagle to do this….. 🤔 😀 📸
In small bird photography, there is a goal of eyebrow close, feather detail photos. Then there is having celestial objects cooperate AND cloud cover just so to let the shape without all the glare into the frame. Being hard to get close to is the game, getting sol to cooperate is just amazingly cool in my world. But then I like to point cameras into the sun. (Disclaimer: Professional Mirrorless Cameras that can take it. No DSLR’s please….
It is very hard to get finished images without a rim around the silhouette of some other color. It’s a diffraction artifact from a high f-stop setting. . This amazing capture has no trace of a color rim. Sharp as heck. I’m still trying to figure that one out. If I do I’ll share it with you. Color rims around objects against bright light is a problem I’ve been trying to solve for years. I have a clue… perhaps… 👀 🤔
Let me start by saying that I did nothing to the colors in this image. I also did no shadows/highlight work to this. Essentially it is a raw image from the camera. It’s naturally colored exactly as it occurred as I saw it in the lens. Of a VERY small part of the sky on the horizon. The 1200 mm lens I’m using to take this images a postage stamp sized area at arm’s length of the horizon here. The ridge here is 40 miles distant from my camera. Full sized pine trees top the ridge which is effectively the horizon. I suspect the total ridge line captured here is a mile long in the frame. Attracted I was to this capture by two things. :
So the first thing to stand out to me in this beside the Harlequin color scheme are the tremendous shadows of the apparent printing in the sky. I’m still trying to read what it says as it looks as much like a block of text as any cloud formation I’ve seen in my travels. Then there are the shadows of the “letters” in the clouds which are making letters themselves. The condition called Pareidolia : seeing shapes of common things / people / faces in clouds. I love graphic presentations by mother nature. There is a message there in text in my humble opinion. We’re just not smart enough to understand it. … I thought I was seeing smoke signals….
The stripe of orange/yellow colored ice under the Crimson Cloud Deck is what the sun light is passing through. A fully involved twilight sky is the result of that red/orange light making it through to the underside of a cloud deck This image was taken near the border line of Montana / Wyoming. The Butte actually sits directly on the border which coincidentally is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole. Some bright guy in the past decided that a kilometer would be based on the distance from the Equator to the North Pole. That distance is 10,000 kilometers between the geographic characteristics 90 degrees apart on the globe. There is actually a difference in distance to the south versus the north pole from the equator. There are several related discussions but that is something you’ll need to google for yourself 👀🤔😀
I must climb several hundred feet of topography to get this eastern view. It’s a several mile drive over two track roads. This spring time image from from May of 2020. With the drying out of my trails, I have much better access to the ranch’s high ground. The views are spectacular up there. I consider the east west view from certain high points around here to be 180 miles from horizon to horizon. Those spots however are not very easy to get to 1/2 hour before the sun rises lolol. The Big Sky of Montana merges seamlessly with the Wonderful Wyoming Skies right over my place.
The smallest of the North American Falcons, the Kestrel is elusive to photograph in my world. I might see one singularly in a years work. Usually at a distance and seldom at rest. They have an uncanny ability to hoover with their head motionless. All the while scanning the ground below for any prey movement.
They are not very large at only a foot tall. Somewhere between a robin and a crow in size. They are the most common falcon in North America as well as the smallest . They are aerial acrobats though with the ability to hoover with their head motionless. None the less they are so small buffeting in the high winds here on the high ridges is visible. The vertical slashes on the face are shared by the sexes but the blue/slate wings and brown “cap” head markings are distinguishing in the males.
Kestrel eat a broad range of grasshopper sized bugs up to mice, bats, songbirds and even smaller snakes or frogs. Opportunistic hunters they are. I have seen them hunt before but are elusive to photograph being quite small. I was very fortunate to come up over a ridge top to find this guy sitting on a snowy branch. He spent about a minute and a half after we surprised each other observing me. I immediately stopped on seeing him. It was windy so he might not have heard me as he was up wind. It only took me a few seconds to bring this long lens to the task. I clicked a few images carefully checking focus each time and off he flew off after game. I lost him after that.
I’ve seen a lot of various looks from Mule Deer before. Few this precious as from this doe. It is obvious her look was annoyance with me. I’m patient though and tend to wait out such attitude. It wasn’t long before she was back grazing with the group around her exhibiting normal deer behavior. They more or less are accepting my Black Ford Raptor as just another Big Smelly Black Angus moving across the Prairie. I seldom scare the local wildlife or push them intentionally. I have found that if you pressure wildlife, they will run from you next time you see them. So for me to get really close to the wild inhabitants of Wyotana, I have to be very respectful of personal space.
Most of the Does are VERY pregnant this time of year. The wheel of life is turning seemingly with a quickening in the late spring. The quantity of newborns born at one time assures a new generations. Deer have a few predators up here but human’s riding their machinations account for the majority of deer fatalities. In the two decades I’ve driven extensively in deer/pronghorn country, only a few over a dozen deer have been “hit” by our families cars. Less than one a year average. We have never filed an insurance claim from a deer impact.
Having discovered early on putting a custom made front bumper / crash bar/ deer bumper on any vehicle that will support it is necessary. Cars… no reason to put a 500+ pound chunk of steel on a Toyota lol. The pickups and SUV’s that we own are all graced with a significant steel front end. Hitting a deer at 60 mph or so is no fun certainly for the driver OR the deer. Bright bright bright headlights help too. Being able to see a 1300 pound Black Angus at night on a gravel road is a good thing if you are traveling. Cleaning a deer you hit at speed off your vehicle takes a while. Trust me on this. My son lost a passenger Mirror from swishing past a deer. They do hit you in the side sometimes ☺️
Exactly on the Wyoming / Montana border, this Volcano simmers at behest of forces beyond our control. This of course is a satire and illusion of a volcano created naturally by a confluence of events and my position.
I love the long distance perspective of a properly involved deck of clouds colorcast by Alpenglow. These are real colors not unknown in this remote high country. The 180 mile long cloud deck positioned above a clear icy window to the sun. Our “volcano”, called Lookout Butte has a commanding view from the top as it’s name suggests. Being an “Insulberg” (google this), it has few characteristics resembling a Cinder Cone Volcano but for it’s shape. All form and no substance passing for an event of geologic significance in this fleeting moment. The chances of a thick layer of clouds across the sky lining up with the top is not terribly high so I cheat and move. The levers my ability to get just the right angle. The ability to move quickly from place to place is really useful for this kind of opportunistic photography. 👀
I don’t always work sunrise, but when I do, I always like a simulated volcano going off in the photo.😜. Illuminated by a dynamic gradient of long traveled cinema quality light, the actors of the stage show have a huge projection screen to perform under. Sometimes dramatic plays happen overhead taking over an hour from start to finish. I have a tough job watching entire sunsets and sunrises as they mutate from second to second.🕺 This show was the directors cut. 📸
I might take 800 photos of a particular sunrise as this. Maybe 2 or 3 images from the twilight will be finished. All the images from the timeline that morning but with different frames were equally as dramatic. Skies as above are rare but the high ridges I work have their share.
Twilight Over the Borderlandsis a capture standing on the Montana/Wyoming border. That line is 45 degrees north Latitude exactly, which runs right through that hill. EXACTLY 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator.
Its called turtle butte for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not much on that hill. There have been scattered dinosaur chunky chunks but alas, no amazing finds there. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.
Up here in the borderlands I find a variety of things just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. There were no big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.
There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover “better” ground that way. Everyone walks the trail… I seldom do.
This area of the sky is the size of your thumb at an arms length on the horizon. The BigHorn Mountains Cloud Cover that morning was climbing up the back of the peaks. Those clouds well past the 130 mile distant 13,000 feet high PreCambrian Cored, uplifted Mountain Range. Parts of Montana and Wyoming in this photo.
It was to cover the highest ones within a few minutes of this photon trap. The sun was JUST rising over my shoulder. I was standing in the long shadow of the ridge I live on.
Getting to see weather move over those high ridges is a rare treat from this far away. These huge blocks of the earths crust uplifted during a major tectonic compression episode called the Laramide “Orogeny”. (Google Word of the day) Cloud peak is 13,175 feet. The same compressional forces that uplifted the peaks, also downwarped the adjacent basin to the east toward my camera. This deep basin is called the Powder River Basin.
The Powder River basin is a major source of clean burning coal in the US. The burning of this coal generates 30 percent of the electricity generated in the United States. My ranch coincidentally sits directly on the western most edge of the Wyoming Black Hills. It is actually JUST east of the edge of the Powder River Basin. If I drive 2 miles west, I start to see alluvial fan sediment. These sediment fans stretch all the way from the Big Horns.
Those long fans of sand/gravel/silt and clay, dissected into ridges by huge rivers washing off the peaks during glaciation. These alluvial deposits are far reaching, called the “Tullock/Fort Union” formation. The first two sets of ridges are all Tullock, as are the hills behind them out to the Mountain range. They are all made of sediment that traveled from the Big Horns when they were MUCH taller.
Major Mountain Chain sized Anticlines and Synclines resulted from continental wide compressional forces. Huge were those forces bending even the underlying crystalline Pre-Cambrian rocks. The rocks weathering to sand and clay washing off of those peaks filled the basin and washed all the way… well just about to my front door.
I was watching this monster come in. It was coming right at us. Everybody on ranch had their car under that big white roof a mile distant from my camera. That roof is the size of a regulation foot ball field in it’s entirety. Built in 1964, it was the largest building in Campbell County Wyoming. It’s a pretty tough heavy metal framed building. That roof replaced in 2008. After a hail storm threw baseball sized ice chunks at us. That along with all the other roof tin on the ranch. Definition of “Big pile” of dented metal left over after that repair. I’m still using it for various projects.
I seriously respect hail in this country having seen it crash through car windows many times. I also respect the down drafts from big storms that have shelf clouds stretching 130+ degrees across the horizon. Taken with the widest lens in my tool kit. It’s not a panorama but a 10mm lens. Looking south west (right frame) and east left frame. I couldn’t fit the whole thing in with the gear I had. I don’t have a lens wider than 10mm for full frame Sony cameras. No one makes one.
I thought this storm might produce the golf ball sized hail it was known for from radio warnings. That missed us as it passed fortunately. Rapidly moving, it produced .3 tenths of an inch of sideways rain and 60+ mph winds but from where I stand, they were way higher say near 80. I had a calf shed cartwheel over a fence, a window blew in, two empty 500 gasoline tanks/ stands blew over. Found some things moved “quite a ways” here and there by the blow. I made it into that big shed before it hit but that is where I weathered the storm too lol.
I spend a portion of the time spent examining scenes before me for candidates requiring a “Mirror/Mirror” treatment. As I suffer from Pareidolia badly. Seeing faces or familiar shapes in clouds or other random scenes is a genetic defect. I received this from both my parents. I have it so badly that I see 1/2 of a face. This controls compositions with the intent to use the 1/2 face to make a “whole’ face from. I have no control over this attribute of mine. This mental game was considered a psychosis historically. Not so much now… Honestly the tendency runs wild most of the time. I must admit. I’ve been known to cultivate such imaginings a time or two. 😜👀
SO, this is ART…. I re-emphasize the ART part…. If it wan’t ART I would have removed the dark blue (it’s a blue Monday post after all). I find that clouds are mostly grey expect near twilight lol. So I take a real photograph, and mirror it right to left (in this case). Color to taste and that’s all I did to this… 2 minutes maybe extra digital darkroom time over my normal 15 minutes. Nature comes up with the creatures that live in the “totem pole” that runs up the center where the mirrors merge. There are SEVERAL more faces buried in that area if you study it. Now if I could just figure out how to make a living with this
Driving under rapidly growing spring Mesocyclones is always an interesting time. This magnificent display of Mammatus billows coming out of the flow bands in this huge storm transcends normalcy. Though admittedly this still growing sporty “little” mesocyclone is a small one based on local standards of 100 miles across for big ones. It’ve seen them spanning the 3 states of Wyoming / Montana / South Dakota from my high ridges. It’s right at 90 miles to South Dakota east of my door step.
Monsters each and every one of these storms. They do spawn tornadic activity. I’ve only photographed one funnel up in this country over 20 years. They do occur in the county I live in. Straight line winds are aggressive at times. The average counties up here are bigger than a couple of US states. We are on the high plains weather wise… We only get one or two tornados a year within 150 miles of here as a general observation. You don’t want to be right under a mesocyclone that isn’t moving very fast because your gonna get wet there…
Big Spinning Mesocyclones are absolutely amazing storms to observe on the sunlit side. I’ve been known to follow but storm chasing is not my tendency. I’m usually running from them more than driving toward them.😜 I deeply respect hail in this country very much. We had base ball sized (3) inch hail hit the homestead in 2008. That left a few marks… Had to replace 44000 square feet of metal roof on the combined buildings here on ranch. I’m still using pieces of that old roofing for misc. projects. Works great for raised bed gardens.
This is a VERY wide image of 130 degrees or so with the top of the frame being straight up overhead. Mitten Butte in the distance center is the 300 foot tall monadnock for scale.
This shelf cloud from a good sized mesocyclone moving through May 2020. I’m happy to say I only had one small formerly nice calf shed cartwheeled over a fence. As well as two empty standing gasoline tanks/stands blown over from this one. They have been standing for decades. Any hail missed us. I was however, pelted by horizontal rocks and gravel. Carried by the wind gust coming up the hill over the gravel road lower left frame. Looked like a sand storm coming at me.
I’m estimating conservatively it was a 60 mph direct down draft but it was probably 80 mph. My recording wind gauge is currently down waiting for a replacement moment as the winds here wear out the 120 dollar devices every 4 or 5 years. They are actually incoming next week so that will be fixed. I have recorded a 79mph wind on the ranch historically.
I’ve been an observer of weather for some time. The winds usually affiliated with this type of Arcus cloud CAN be pretty severe. I snapped this image along with a few more. Thought the better part of valor was to avoid the worst of it. “Clever Girl” is only 5 months old and has no hail dents yet. I heard golf ball sized hail in this…. didn’t get it. Only .3 inch of rain but we’ll take what we get.
I thought it was pretty nifty this shelf has 3 horizontal rings looping around rotation clearly visible in this capture. The lightning bolt was a rare one in this storm as it really didn’t light up too much. There were some dangerous bolts. When my truck started getting seriously buffeted, I headed for the barn under that big white roof. I left that building’s white roof in the frame for a reason. It is a good scale. That is 1/2 of the roof of a building which is roughly the size of a regulation foot ball field. I’m almost a mile and 200 feet above that building at the click.
This unusual sky happened about 10 days ago on a stormy eventing in mid March 2020. I had been working this sky for several hours photographically due to the wondrous storm clouds moving through the area. As a grand final act of the stage show that evening, a distant storm cloud decided to make a flashlight beam out of the suns blanket. The edge of that ‘little cloud” on the far right horizon blocked and quartered the sun nicely BEFORE it was actually down. It enabled just an amazing sliver of bright sun to cut the ice in the air with it’s light. All the while that light was color casted orange by passing the hundreds of miles long gauntlet of dust and ice in the air.
This “spotlight” beam passing through the atmospheric ice was indeed a worth show to see and capture. I particularly like the lighter blue’s gradient to the darker indigo above. This is a hint of the extreme wide angle lens I was using to capture this 130 degree wide vistas. The top of the photo is nearly straight up. It is difficult to get a proper prospective without a foreground object. The camera was looking south on the left frame to northwest on the right frame. In other words, it’s a huge chunk of the sky. (10 mm full frame lens)I am constantly wow’d by sky show performances up here. I was lucky to have experienced this night.
There are many more capture of the storms moving through that evening that were/are very good captures indeed. They will slowly make it into my workflow. 2’x3′ image aspect
Taken 10 days before it posts mid-may 2020. This is how long it takes me to get a “current” photo in to be published. That is if I bring it to the front of the line. I have to admit I have a bias for big Mammatus. (👀). When I say big you have to realize this storm is about 10 miles long. Admittedly this is a tiny storm for this country that occasionally has 100 mile across mesocyclones develop from these smaller storms. The shelf cloud off to the right was awesome in this storm.
This was one of a series of storms moving south to north along a line that evening. They all were just east of me along Parks/Garst Road up here in Wyotana. The little rainbow as you follow the red gravel road as it curves to the right, was a nice touch from the storm. Lightning? Not so much. The big views we have up on the high ridges gives up 50 to 180 mile long vistas to photograph and observe weather occurring from a distance. I followed this and it’s sister storms moving along the frontal boundary moving through our area. I couldn’t have asked for a better view of this barking dog.
As I type this, the wind blew well over 60 mph last night. Rained sideways for 20 minutes. It said .3 inch but this is suspect lol. I was up photographing the storm come up but got back to shelter before that one came through. I have yet to download the images from that event.
Taken after sunset, the LOW angle long wavelength sunlight is still reaching the curved boundary under that reflective bumpy “projector screen”. The landscape is in total shadow from a storm low on the horizon over my shoulder at sunset. This storm is around 100 mile across and called a “Mesocylone”. I’m parked under the huge trailing apron of it. While not terribly common, Mammatus clouds are often very dramatic particularly with just the right light…📷 An affiliation with storms that produce extreme weather has been noted over the years. Hail isn’t usually far away with these olympic athletes of cloud types.
This one easily spans 3 states in my part Wyoming/Montana with South Dakota about 80 miles east. We are not sure exactly what is going on in this kind of cloud morphology. I will tell you that cloud boundaries form where two different air masses meet. Like oil floating in water, the density interface gets all visually 3D on us. Localized micro currents of flow scours into the air mass below like ripples in water. I think the the boys at “Skunk Works” would call it turbulence. Most planes divert around these atom bomb energy storms for good reason. You don’t want to fly through one for sure.
The water and air interface is one where two states of matter mix. The relative density differing the two substances create that obvious boundary. Gravity is doing the sorting. Cloud/clear air boundaries are not that different. Ripples and moving air channels / flow channels both vertical and horizontal within these Mesocyclones are chaotically complex apparently lolol.
Close far perspectives are always a favorite to bring to completion. Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite 🤘🤘
For me to publish this, I take an average of 1.5 hours per image. I then have to study that timeline to pick this photo. Then there is the small amount of digital darkroom time maybe 10 minutes.. then I have to write / type the accompanying narrative… I start at 250 words for an image. I could write 250 words about a clump of dirt these days after the last 6 months writing over 1500 narratives to accompany my portfolio images. Each post I publish on line, is an e-version of one page out of that eventual book. For now it’s all free reading lol.
So just ignore “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. Any recognition by the public makes him insufferable. He’s been photobombing my landscapes for years up here in the high ridge lines of the Montana / Wyoming. The narrative is years long and “Sneaky” gets his share of recognition. Some fans instantly know him versus other less gregarious windmills. He is a notorious photobomber in the local tales of lore.
SOO, “Sneaky” here is the Close part. The 130 mile distant peaks of the 13,000 foot high BigHorn Mountains loom on the horizon the far…. The Windmill is 1/4 mile out, the first ridge 10 miles. The valley under the treed second ridge / mountain slope is the “Little Powder River Valley. Finally stand at 40 miles distant are the Red Hills, made of sediments from the BigHorns far distant. (Google Alluvial Fanglomerate).
We live under the Powder River Flight Training Complex. It’s a huge area of South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming used by the U.S. Airforce to work out their rigs. A couple of times a year I see strange contrails during sunrise and sunset. Usually it’s without a long lens camera ready to rock in my hands. 🤔 (Rule one of photography is “Have a camera handy”.
These planes do a variety of maneuvers to train the crews that fly towards the sound of war… Obviously this plane (in clouds?) did a downward spiral at altitude only to recover still well about the hard deck. I’ve had a lot of encounters with the monster pieces of technology while living here. This capture is an unusual one every for living in the shadow of military activity over my place now and again. Ellsworth AFB is located just outside of Box Elder, South Dakota but think Rapid City. Without a doubt military is the largest employer in the region. Statistics show it the second largest employer in the state of South Dakota.
“Providing rapid, decisive and sustainable combat air power and expeditionary combat support, the 28th Bomb wing is assigned to 12th Air Force under Air Combat Command. As home to the B-1B, the 28th Bomb Wing provides operational support in many areas.” Hu Raaaa Tip of the Spear. 🤘
I used to do stupid things like go up in the back yard to watch a rain/thunder storm come in at midnight. This was indeed less intelligent than my IQ would indicate my choices might be. Apparently somewhat risk adverse at the time, I was actually driving my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV which while it has a metal roll cage, had a plastic roof. This bolt woke me right up and could have put me right to sleep lol.
Doing a LOT of lightning shots every summer, I ordered “Clever Girl” (my Ford F-150 Raptor) from the factory WITHOUT a sunroof for a reason. IT’s always good to have metal between you and the storm.
Isolated from ground currents probably in the vehicle on rubber…Better than being on foot…. Having said that… I would not like to be under or even closer to that bolt. It felt like an artillery shell being launched. That along with the benefit of being blinded at the same time. Flash bang less than 1 second…
The old “Steel Yard” on the ranch is actually Over that hill. It consists about 1/4 acre of various antique farm implement parts and pieces with a lot of metallic objects. It is roughly 1/4 mile past that ridge line. I suspect the bolt hit a sharp edge there as moist drainage is also over there. I suspect that is where the ground currents went as I noted the sudden lack of Jack Rabbits down there after that too.
That was a very hard core strike from the incoming storm. It was time to go inside which I did post hast having learned my lesson. I’m much more careful now days but working on your porch is about the same thing as the Polaris with the fiberglass window into the metal roof overhead. Inside a vehicle or inside a house with a proper grounding ring around it. Never touch metal in your vehicles during a storm….
This is a 25 second time exposure in pitch black around midnight. Long time exposures at night have unintended consequences. Red and blue colors make pink with both colors being enhanced. The silly long exposure at least with my Sony Alphas give me these hues. I can’t see the real scene of a long exposure on the screen of the Sony to argue with it. This is just a close estimate by the camera of the scene. I just saw a flash… What colors are put out by lightning? All colors…..there was some ambient light from our ranch pole lights too messing the colors up….
Why time exposure? You get multiple bolts with a 25 second or so exposure, ISO 125, f4 to start with… Work from there moving your f stop up a click each shot to adjust to the ambient light conditions as necessary. Review the images for results and pick your poison for the duration of the storm.