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Twilight Fully Involved Sky

Twilight Fully Involved Sky
Twilight Fully Involved Sky

Twilight Fully Involved Sky

Some of the pre-sunrise drives out into the backcountry are silly amazing sometimes. It takes me a minute to get set up for this kind of location. I usually have photographed the sight a different day . This fully involved twilight sky was colorful icing on the cake from that morning’s long timeline.

The term “Twilight” means 3 different things: 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.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Twilight Fully Involved Sky

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Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster

Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster
Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster

Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster

This is a 2 feet x 3 feet image at full size. Now I know this is out of season .I’m reposting some images refinished to current specs from this last summer. I think it’s an interesting break from the late winter weather we’ve been having.

It was raining on me at the time about 10 minutes after sunset. This was our version of twilight that late summer 2019 evening. I was in my Jeep Grand Cherokee on a large flat ridge top right in the middle of lightning flashes all around me. One of the better places to be during a lightning storm is in a car. That is as long as your not touching metal. It also helps if you don’t have long camera lenses sticking outside your open window….. oh wait lolol..

Photographic Musings:

There are two ways of doing this. If it is very dark, set your camera on a stabile tripod in a dry area. Take 25 second time exposures at ISO 200 and f11 to start with… You will have to tweek some to see what comes out. Or use an external “lightning trigger” to snap the camera as the bolt touches off. Set your camera near or at ISO 200 F11 and 1/4 second. Your setting s may vary but now too far out. The trick here to get a full frame (not a crop) image was to watch the storm and figure out where the bolts were consistently hitting. Then you just point the camera into that area and wait lolol.

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

Title: Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster

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BigHorn Mountain Ladder Landscape

BigHorn Mountain Landscape Ladder
BigHorn Mountain Landscape Ladder

BigHorn Mountain Ladder Landscape

View from up on Ridge one here on ranch. The window to the Big Horns is IFFY this time of year from this far away. My truck/tripod is 130 miles out for this capture off the highest point around the place. The timing on this was a few minutes before sunset. Full Screen is a good choice for this. Twilight over the BigHorns this night was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a short time exposure to catch it. The timing on this sunset is very late in Civil Twilight.

Civil Twilight after sunset ends about 28 minutes after the sun goes down 8 degrees under the horizon. It’s usually the best time to get those crimson and yellow skies. The yellow is Alpenglow. Atmospheric Ice causes this phenomena caused by refracted light passing through. Only the red wavelengths which have survived through hundreds of miles of atmosphere light the cloud deck. Orange as this is a mixture of the two effects.

The long lenses I use crush the perspective of distance. I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 800 mm long focal length to fill the camera frame side to side with the tallest part of the range. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. Those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here from my eyes unaided perspective.

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

Title: BigHorn Mountain Ladder Landscape

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Sun Filter Courtesy Windmill

Sun Filter Courtesy Windmill
Sun Filter Courtesy Windmill

Sun Filter Courtesy Windmill

Forest Fires hundreds of miles away accentuate and attenuated this image. Various levels of smoke from burning forests give western photographers opportunities. I am not ashamed to take advantage of it though my heart goes out to those that the fires impact.

I’ve physically fought my share of grass fires living surrounded by a sea of grass. Fires used to burn here from their start to the first snows putting them out. I’ve seen some tremendous sunsets as a benefit to natures actions cleaning up the dead fall that we have allowed to accumulate to dangerous levels. I’ve said many times before that I don’t use glass filters in front of my lenses.

When shooting directly into the sun, the best filters have lefts a ghost of the sun in my images. Offset artifacts are not generally welcome to a photographer that tries really hard to be a photorealist. I will occasionally wander using lens reflections/flares in my work, but not here lol. 📷

Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Windmill and Sun all to line up at the same time while at the same elevation as the sail…..not that regular an occurrence lol. I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the sun is going to rise is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a compass, a map (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up. I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE it is going to take place though. 😄

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

Title: Sun Filter Courtesy Windmill

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Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight
Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

The stripe of orange Alpenglow 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 cloud deck This image was taken ON 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 is10,000 kilometers between the geographic characteristics on the globe. There is actually a difference in distance to the south versus the north pole from the equator. 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 2019. I’m about tired of spotty snow and mud patches in the backcountry and am waiting patiently for mid may to open this magical world back to me. I do miss unlimited 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. The Big Sky of Montana merges seamlessly with the Wonderful Wyoming Skies right over my place.

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

Title: Turtle Butte Crimson Twilight

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Twilight Delight Eye Candy

Twilight Delight Eye Candy
Twilight Delight Eye Candy

Twilight Delight Eye Candy

I attend virtually every interesting sunrise/sunset that occurs up here on the high ridges along the Wyoming/Montana border. The Bliss Dinosaur Ranch has about an equal amount of land in each state. Most of my images have parts of the scene either the sky or the ground of each or the other state. (now that’s a sentence lololol_😜

Musings:

I see a lot of heavily saturated sunsets on forums and I see them too occasionally. I record them accurately. What I’m saying is.: This is the actual scene as it occurred without any highlight/color tomfoolery. I love this image as it is with detail in the colored areas, not solid color. My technique is all about exposing the highlights correctly. I’ll worry about the shadows in the digital darkroom. I left the landscape silhouette without bringing out what detail exists there. I seldom molest highlights.

Recording then presenting them exactly as I experienced them. I about said “Catch them on Film”. ……. I paused and considered the accurate replacement phrase. What exactly am I doing with this Mirrorless Digital Camera. No film here. These things use a digital chip inside to record the image in Red/Green/Blue dots. Technically it’s recording a series of 1’s and 0’s in sequence that when run through first Sony then Apple’s machinations via software. Of course Adobe had a hand. Then Facebook attacked what I uploaded with a compression process. The resultant jpeg/file quality drives me crazy sometimes. The full sized files are amazing. Full screen is a must here for sure as this is an image that needs to spread around your field of vision. 📸👀

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands *Wyotana”

Title: Twilight Delight Eye Candy

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Wetland Sunset Summer Green

Wetland Sunset Summer Green
Wetland Sunset Summer Green

Wetland Sunset Summer Green

Boy I miss summer. I will say that there were some mosquitos out at this shooting. Some crimson to purple to blue gradients pop up each year but not many. I got a good one here though. The alpenglow ice that gives you summer crimson blends in like an acrylic paint into blue higher in the sky forging purple out of the mix. It’s a natural rare gradient that I see a few times a year. Real purple is much rarer in the world than you would think looking at forums. Beware of the electric blue images you see but this is a real color mix showing purple.

The grass was high, the hay bales in the distance attest to an expenditure of diesel fuel to gather each 1 ton bale. The big tree just across the inlet has a landing below it that I have several game trail cameras. They have taken hundreds of creatures from coyotes to Herons walking right in front of that wonderful cotton wood. This lake is literally miles from the nearest gravel county maintained road. I can’t tell you how many little places of zen like this exist in and around my ranch. I’m pretty sure infinity comes to mind for the time I have to spend here in my short human existence. Cowboys 100 years ago built the dam across this spring. It watered generations of cattle walking the Miles City Montana to Newcastle Wyoming Trail on the way to Texas.

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

Title: Wetland Sunset Summer Green

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BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape
BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

View from up on Ridge one here on ranch. The window to the Big Horns is IFFY this time of year from this far away. My truck/tripod is 130 miles out for this capture off the highest point around the place. The timing on this was mid-Civil Twilight

Full Screen is a good choice for this. Twilight over the BigHorns this night was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a short time exposure to catch it. The lighting for this was subdued to say the least.

Civil Twilight after sunset ends about 28 minutes after the sun goes down 8 degrees under the horizon. It’s usually the best time to get those crimson and yellow skies. The yellow is Alpenglow. Atmospheric Ice causes this phenomena caused by refracted light passing through. Only the red wavelengths which have survived through hundreds of miles of atmosphere light the cloud deck.

The long lenses I use crush the perspective of distance. I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 800 mm long focal length to fill the camera frame side to side with the tallest part of the range. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. The width of those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here. You are quite zoomed in here. 👀📷

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

Title: BigHorn Winter Twilight Landscape

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Double the Trouble Lightning

Double the Trouble Lightning
Double the Trouble Lightning

Double the Trouble Lightning

I bit out of season… I need summer, right at sunset….

Chasing lIghtning is not for the faint at heart. Being in a vehicle “reduces” your exposure. It’s also possible for the vehicle to be struck. This can destroy the vehicles wiring or it’s computer. You also don’t want to be touching metal when that goes down lolol. I’ve been very close to bolts before. They are also VERY loud I point out lolol.

I was driving up in Montana where my son and I watched a bolt hit the dirt 30 feet off the road on the drivers side. It hit in front of us so we had a clear view of it. I can still see the scene perfectly in my mind just as if I actually took the photo. The truck was all closed up so the sound was muffled. I’ve heard some pretty loud bolts but with a window open… a close bolt is going to leave some “ringing” in my ears lolol.

I usually work scenes like this with 2 cameras sitting in the vehicles passenger window on window clamp tripods. Using Lightning Triggers allow you to set your camera to click with the bolt flash. My Sony Mirrorless respond within a few milli-seconds to the initial start of the flash. I usually use about 1/4 second exposure which you adjust to the brightest part of the image. (expose the highlights properly). If you set the ISO too high, you will have the bolts too bright which tends to grow them larger than they are. This is about as perfect an exposure as you can get for as dark as it was for this scene.

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

Double the Trouble Lightning

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Snowy Backcountry Lamp Post

Snowy Backcountry Lamp Post
Snowy Backcountry Lamp Post

Snowy Backcountry Lamp Post

All these backcountry Lamp Posts have defective photocell switches. They never work more than a few minutes plus never at night. I need to talk to the management about this issue. I bet they have the parts at home depot to fix them…. Just saying 🤔😜😜 High Contrast eh?

Working/driving backcountry parallel Ridges in the winter is an exercise in getting home without pulling out the snow shovel. This is miles off the nearest county road. If you travel on the ridge tops, I find I don’t find deep snow too much. It tend to blow off the ridge into the surrounding lower areas. Found some deep snow the other day with my new rig. I did manage to drive out of it without having to dig it out. Took a few minutes of trying though…. Close….Because the snow tends to blow off of the ridge tops providing potentially miles of clear travel. Of course someone thought to put fences up. There never seems to be a gate on the ridge line. Thusly I’m forced to travel between ridges through the deeper snow regularly to travel any distance. . This is the most likely areas to stick you.

We’ve had a light snow winter though some of the local mountain ranges are 100 percent pack or there about. I can only hope we get a series of regular and not too severe snows over the next few months. Winter ends here in May.

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

Snowy Backcountry Lamp Post

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Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset
Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

(Crimson Alpenglow Close far Perspective #2 in this Yucca series)

Working the shadow line of parallel ridges with telephoto lenses has it’s rewards. I find that it’s the simple compositions that carry the most interest as complex misleads/distracts the viewer. Detail yes, but the time and space moment should place you in that continuum in your mind. The human eye might be able to resolve this but only for the briefest of moments. The reflexive look away followed by the ghost of the too bright scene on your retina. A quick thought of eye damage, you blink. Over a minute later, your vision probably would come back.

Yucca make for big speed bumps in the backcountry. Some of the clumps can get 2 feet high. In the winter they catch a snow drift behind the clumps big time. It looks like a sand dune field after a good snow and blow in the backcountry where Yucca is about.

I look at a lot of sunsets but seldom do I do much looking at the sun. Without the benefit of a mirrorless camera set up I’d be blind by now. I watch scenes like this develop live on video. The setting changes I make to the camera show up in real time as I spin the adjustment dials. With a mirrorless camera in my hands, I know what the image is going to look like before I click the shutter. Compare to a standard DSLR where you click and then see what you did on the back LCD. Just my 2 cents on that debate. Click!

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

Title: Yucca Ridge Sunny Sunset

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Backcountry Lamp Post

Backcountry Lamp Post
Backcountry Lamp Post

Backcountry Lamp Post

About 6 months off season, the forest fires to the far west. This is a VERY bright scene but the sun was indeed markedly yellow and the sky crimson on this tiny portion of the sky placed in the same focal plane as this tree. If you hold your thumb out at the end of your outstretched arm, it would cover this image area. Positioned where I thought the bulb should screw into this rare backcountry lamp. When taking such images, movement of your head fractions of an inch makes a REALLY big difference. The lens is an 18 inch 600 mm optic. I’m working hand held for this kind of capture. About 300 yards distant from the snag. The sun is out a bit further. 🤔

Being so bright a scene, it had some interesting light effects on the sensor. The particulates in the air as well as the clouds below it’s line of sight enabling only the longest red rays access to me. The bright yellow light from the sun made it to me though. The pall of smoke trapped all the shorter wavelengths of light from getting to me. I never know how these are going to come out when taking photos way outside the sane photographic envelope looking into the sun as this capture. Settings you must consider looking it a scene is a fast shutter so going freehand is easy. You need ISO low numbers and fstop as high as you need to enable both snag/sun to be in the same focal field.. The higher f – stop will give you a deep depth of field.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Backcountry Lamp Post

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Crimson Morning Sky Show

Crimson Morning Sky Show
Crimson Morning Sky Show

Crimson Morning Sky Show

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.

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

Title: Crimson Morning Sky Show

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Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges
Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

This sunburst coming just over the edge of the far ridge is one of the most prodigious I’ve had come out of this camera. Part of it was there was a LOT of fog in the air for this. Primarily these sun star are diffraction artifacts inside the lens of the camera. They are either attractive to you or not I have found. I personally like them.

Are these rays there in the real world? Yes they are a result of light passing through a very small aperture. Light diffracts off the edge of the opening which you are seeing here. The same thing probably happens to your own eye but you’d be blinded if you tried so you turn away lolol. No one can look into a scene like this for very long twice. No human eye could do more than glance past this. Then you’d still be seeing spots. When the diffractions stars are BIG, it’s really bright. Also the F-stop is turned up to give me a small aperture. Cuts off light too … Wide focal fields with high F-stops lets me properly focus the grass at my feet AND the hillside.

This was taken a day before we got a pretty good snow. IT’s a LOT harder to get around up on the high ridges now. We’ve been in the deep freeze for a while with mid-February weather spitting a few inches every other day at us. No huge storms YET this winter, I hope we get snow spread out in smaller dumps rather than huge punctuated events with named winter storms.

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

Title: Sunburst Winter Backcountry Ridges

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Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

Big Tall Crimson Sunrise
Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

Getting to a favorite overlook for catching a Twilight Moment in the Backcountry in the Wyoming/Montana Borderlands is an exercise in driving remote two track roads in the dark dark lol. I might take 10 or 20 minutes to get into position for a shot like this pre-sunrise usually in late Nautical Twilight where stars are visible early on.

Eastern Skies almost always have better twilight shows than western skies as there is usually more ice in the atmosphere by my observations. Others may disagree.🤣This is in mid Civil Twilight which starts 28 (ish) minutes before actual sunrise. Nautical Twilight just ended and Astronomic Twilight (when the stars just disappear) has been over for a 1/2 hour. IT takes about an hour for the sun to rise. The horizon is actually falling away from covering the sun for the night. Remember it’s not the sun that’s moving. I remind you that it is the earth that is rotating. The horizon is literally falling when you look to the east about 4-6 inches during the time it takes a rifle bullet to reach 1000 yards out.

This Backcountry show starts in pitch black as deep as the North Atlantic Ocean (according to NOAA). Little dribs of color pushing through the dark. . As time progresses, the “volume” of the color wheel is turned up. Such Sky Shows are a pleasure to watch from beginning to end and I have done many many hundreds in totality. I’m pretty sure time isn’t taken off your lifeline for time spent watching sunrises and sunsets.

This is a 1 second time exposure as it is. No wind, dead calm or the pine needles would be a blur.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Big Tall Crimson Sunrise

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Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise
Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

Alpenglow such as this occurs when there is a LOT of ice in the atmosphere mostly during winter. . I’ve also seen smoke do this kind of scene in the summer. Here on the high ridges of the borderlands, I get to look at parallel ridge tops like this 40 miles away to the east.

After passing through a gauntlet of filters in the atmosphere, crimson/orange/yellow are the survivor hues. Absorbed/blocked/refracted away are the shorter wavelengths of color. Can’t trap them in my photon capture boxes (cameras) if they don’t make it to me. Passing that gauntlet to blues/greens and indigos consists not only of hundreds of miles of low angle atmosphere plus all the dust and the dirt suspended within.

The sun isn’t actually occupying the line of site where it appears to be here. Because of atmospheric “lensing”, the sun is actually still completely below your eye to the horizons line of sight. It just looks like it’s up. This accounts for several minutes of differences from rise/set charts versus the observed sunrise with the day always being longer due to lensing. The atmosphere literally bends it’s light around the curvature of the earth thus the “lens” part of atmospheric lens. This courtesy of inversions and thermal-clines. The path this light took was at least 300 miles of low angle air. The higher I go topographically, the longer the light I gets path. The redder the alpenglow.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Crimson Alpenglow Sunrise

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Twilight Crimson Sky Show

Twilight Crimson Sky Show
Twilight Crimson Sky Show

Twilight Crimson Sky Show

The Lone Tree sees a sunset and a sunrise each day. Sometimes clouds trap all the light, the actors of the stage show have no spot to perform in. 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. I might take 800 photos of a particular sunrise as this. 3 or 4 images from the twilight will be finished. More images from after sunrise of this morning with different frames were equally as dramatic.

Skies as above are rare but the high ridges I work have their share. Dozens of decades under the trees “belt” , it’s perspective far exceeds our own limited memory of our travels. The complexity of our thought the tree can not conceive, but the perspective it has is beyond our comprehension.

Being a tree it has ultimately a figurative and literal connection to the land lol. I would like to think it is deeper than that. Much more connectivity between living things and the environment than we give them credit for occurs I feel. Even disconnected to nature by nurture human/me, can feel things happening an orderly manner here in the highlands. It’s probably my own psyche settling into the cycles, the yearly natural event of this place in space and time.

A tripod can come in handy in this lower light civil twilight sky. Long exposures are hard to do without them….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Twilight Crimson Sky Show

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Exposed Volcanic Necks

Exposed Volcanic Necks
Exposed Volcanic Necks

Exposed Volcanic Necks

This view from the Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming to the Southeast across northern Crook County Wyoming. I’m actually standing in Campbell County with the camera. The sky was fully involved in a wonderful twilight sky snow.

Well you know those distant Mountains as Devils Tower (left) and the three Missouri Buttes (right). 4 ancient volcanos throats exposed by erosion remain elevated over the surrounding debris plains. The volcanos fed by these conduits didn’t erupt all at the same time precisely but were in the same general geologic time frame of a few million years. They are certainly all related and in the same volcanic “field”. Devils tower is 35 miles out from this spot…

Eruptions supplied by these pipes which occurred far above on ground that is no longer up there. Erosion removed a LOT of material that used to be above the Tower and the buttes. Deeply buried these rocks were originally. The harder rock making up the Eventually the pressure in the original volcanic system dropped to the point where it was not pushing magma up the pipes. Insulated by the surrounding rock, the magma froze slowly in place. Because of that insulation and the slow cooling, the rock (Phonolitic Porphyry) was able to “crystallize” and freeze into columns. Known for it’s columns, the Devil’s Tower has it’s status as our nations first national monument. The Missouri buttes only have SOME columns. Not as many or as well formed. So they are not considered monument worth lolol.

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

Title: Exposed Volcanic Necks

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Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands

Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands
Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands

Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands

Driving out to remote backcountry ridges up here in the borderlands is often the best part of the day. I’m taking roads with no other traffic to go to smaller two track trails with less traffic. 😜👀 Then I usually have to climb up on a ridge to get a view of the horizon . I live in a world of parallel ridges. Deep dissected gullies divide the high ground into distinct highways around the area. You generally try to travel the topographic lines around a hill side. Going into the valley and back up isn’t necessarily an option in this steep country. That far ridge sits 200 feet above the bottom of the gully between us. There is an old saying up in this country of: “you can’t get there from here”.

Now “You can’t get here from there” is a ubiquitous saying around Wyoming. Most places settlements / communities have only one way in and at most 2. The roads around here are always iffy. While that ridge is a few miles out, it would take me 30 minutes to get on it because of the above statement.

This morning was a fully involved Civil Twilight Sky. I saw this forming up really early and bolted for the backcountry. Took me about 20 minutes to get to this point. I worked the whole morning as it was a magnificent sunrise. I don’t see many this involved.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunrise Ridge in the Borderlands

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Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise
Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

Driving two track roads during Nautical twilight up high in the backcountry is easier when there is only this much snow on the ridges. It still takes me 10 to 15 minutes to drive up to this location I call sunrise ridge. By the time I arrive, it’s already into Civil Twilight with maybe 15 minutes to go till sunrise. THe sky starts to light up, the air is crisp, the smell of sage and pine are rife. There is little wind this morning which is uncommon. I start to feel the sunrise coming on. It’s something you can feel akin to a quickening. 👀

This was taken over a month ago in early December. We had lighter snow then than now. There is 6 inches flat everywhere on the ridgetops at the moment. You have to be very careful going off the ridge tops. The snow that use to cover them has been blown of to the sides. There hasn’t been much drifting yet this winter and I have a new truck now with excellent capabilities so it should be a productive winter up on the ride tops.

Looking up this hill for proper perspective, the lower yellow band is bright alpenglow. The red from rays of the sun that made it through the gauntlet of hundreds of miles of atmospheres and moisture. The cloud bottoms were wave troughs dropping into the light and turning red as a result. As bright as the highlights are, the over all scene was dark. This you can see by the darkness of the foreground where I was sitting.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise

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Yucca Ridge Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunset
Yucca Ridge Sunset

Yucca Ridge Sunset

Working the shadow line of parallel ridges with telephoto lenses has it’s rewards. I find that it’s the simple compositions that carry the most interest as complex misleads the view. Detail yes, but the time and space moment should place you in that continuum in your mind. The human eye might be able to resolve this but only for the briefest of moments. The reflexive look away followed by the ghost of the bright scene on your retina. A quick though of eye damage, you blink and a minute later your vision is back. . 

Yucca make for big speed bumps in the backcountry. Some of the clumps can get 2 feet high. In the winter they catch a snow drift behind the clumps big time. It looks like a sand dune field after a good snow and blow in the backcountry where Yucca is about. 

I look at a lot of sunsets but seldom do I do much looking at the sun. Without the benefit of a mirrorless camera set up I’d be blind by now. I watch scenes like this develop live on video. The setting changes I make to the camera show up in real time as I spin the adjustment dials. With a mirrorless camera in my hands, I know what the image is going to look like before I click the shutter. Compare to a standard DSLR where you click and then see what you did on the back LCD. Just my 2 cents on that debate. 

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

Title: Yucca Ridge Sunset

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Grass Stand Sun Filter

Grass Stand Sun Filter
Grass Stand Sun Filter

Grass Stand Sun Filter (or Summer Sunset Through the Grass…..)

Yellow gradient to red but there were some low clouds messing up a perfect gradient. It’s hard to fight mother nature but I like the yellow and transitional orange in this. Stepping JUST over a ridge line with a long lenses camera is at sunset becomes habit. I work parallel ridgelines all the time looking for close / far perspectives such as this.

The sun is SOOOO bright you couldn’t look at this scene with the human eye. I’m about 150 yards back from this grassy ridge with around 400mm involved. I work the shadow line on the far ridge. Distance is your friend with this kind of shot. Maximum F-stop settings (high numbers) give you a deep field of focus. Ifs your first priority to get the grass AND the background in focus. Good thing, it’s a bright scene and the High f-stop makes your aperture a pin hole. Go higher if you can. Then I mentioned, distance from the foreground object is key. You have to be far enough back to get the grass AND the sun focused at the same time.

As I type this, we are going into a cold snap you will have experienced by the time you read the post. I build these posts about a week ahead on average. I post 6 different images everyday on FB along with the story or lesson for the narrative.

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

Title: Grass Stand Sun Filter

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Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset
Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

So I’m up on a high ridge for twilight. The sun is down for 5 minutes and the clouds are lighting up with a still blue sky above. I was driving my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV that has 2 bright LED lightbars on the front. I sat down right up against the front bumper in the grass. I brought a 12 mm wide lens but I cropped the image down to the center since the edges were all dark. Only the center was bright enough to recover. I only expose the highlight properly and worry about the dark later. This actually came out much better than it could have.

Photographic Musings:

Close / Far perspectives under low light are rather tricky to capture. It’s takes a basic understanding of the requirement to use Manual mode on your camera to catch an image like this. High F-stop numbers, Long shutter speeds (tricky with moving grass), and perhaps a higher ISO to add a little camera sensitivity. Your priority here is depth of focus field. To get close grass AND the sky in focus at the same time requires you to use that requirement as your first priority. F-stop is the baby here. The other two settings are to get enough light to compensate for the high Fstop (very small hole in your lens to let light through). You have to realize that fstop is a double edge sword.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

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BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait
BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

View from up on Ridge one here on ranch. The window to the Big Horns is IFFY this time of year from this far away. My truck/tripod is 130 miles out for this capture off the highest point around the place. The timing on this was mid-Civil Twilight

Full Screen is a good choice for this. Twilight over the BigHorns this night was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a short time exposure to catch it. The timing on this sunset is very late in Civil Twilight.

Civil Twilight after sunset ends about 28 minutes after the sun goes down 8 degrees under the horizon. It’s usually the best time to get those crimson and yellow skies. The yellow is Alpenglow. Atmospheric Ice causes this phenomena caused by refracted light passing through. Only the red wavelengths which have survived through hundreds of miles of atmosphere light the cloud deck.

The long lenses I use crush the perspective of distance. I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 800 mm long focal length to fill the camera frame side to side with the tallest part of the range. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. Those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here.

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

BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

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Savanna Tree High Backcountry

Savanna Tree High Backcountry
Savanna Tree High Backcountry

Savanna Tree High Backcountry

I took this a week ago as this posts with quite a Twilight Behind a Lone Tree on a Remote Ridge. This one of about a dozen favorite lone trees of mine being on a very high ridge that is approachable from both sides at least on foot from this side AND I can get far enough away to fit it all in to the frame. These are all requirements for me to get this kind of capture. Topography and astronomy has to coincide with Botany. That’s a lot of coincidence lol.

Twilight skies are notoriously color boosted by many artists. I would suggest to you that if anything, the real show was actually much more vivid in person. I stopped a bit light on saturation finalizing this as I’d like it to be photorealistic to what I experienced. It was beautiful. It’s easy to be enamoured with silhouettes of lone trees against an active twilight sky show. I keep them real though and will tell you if I seriously mess with color. It’s seldom I mess with the highlights of an image. My tendency is to bring hidden detail out of the shadow in the digital darkroom. . I did none of that with this image for the silhouette effect. It is pretty much as raw out of the camera.

This capture has the triangle formed by the clouds and the hill slope. Geometry formed in an image is always a bonus “hero”. Every photo needs a few heros. Hero’s defined here as something that draws the eye, brings forth a memory, or is just a nice series of colors or gradients. Something attractive.

Location: Ridge 1, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Savanna Tree High Backcountry

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Big Horn Layers of Fire

Big Horn Layers of Fire
Big Horn Layers of Fire

Big Horn Layers of Fire

Twilight to me is a night sky in this case, 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.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Big Horn Layers of Fire

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Sunrise Crimson Portrait

Sunrise Crimson Portrait
Sunrise Crimson Portrait

Sunrise Crimson Portrait

Using a 1600mm telephoto, I bring horizons 40 miles out, up close and personal. The sun here is stationary and actually behind the horizon. This is NOT entirely line of site. The Atmospheric lens is bending the light around the curve of the planet. You see it setting and rising earlier at it’s rise. It sets later at sunset due to this. The Suns Disk actually is below the horizon here totally. It’s an interesting effect of the bending of light around the curve of the planet.

The thick atmosphere hundreds of miles thick only allows the longest red rays through. Yellow is a component of the sky this late in the sunrise as well. A quick transition to real line of site viewing occurs. Usually somewhere around 10 minutes after sunrise. The actual position of the sun eventually catches up to it’s apparent position. Again caused by the lessening refraction of that atmospheric lens that thins as the sun apparently rises higher.

Crimson close ups within big sky shows are not rare, they are beautiful however. Some are also better than others. This one is a good one…. You have to remember that this is a very small area of the sky. Hold your thumb out at an arms length and you would cover the entire area of this frame with it. Telephoto lenses crush perspective. The higher the magnification, the mountains in the foreground seem larger, but the sun which is already proportionally the same size, seems huge by comparison. It’s an optical illusion/perspective crush. 🤔🤔📸

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

Title: Sunrise Crimson Portrait

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Windmill’s Green Spring Morning

Windmill's Green Spring Morning
Windmill's Green Spring Morning

Windmill’s Green Spring Morning

I needed to finish this image as I sort of need the dose of green. Image 5 of 6 for Windmill Wednesday. All Windmills All day 🙂

Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘

The red gravel country road winds around our homestead. It USED to run right through our current compound but the country decided to run the road around the house thus all the curves up here. (Thank GOD) I’ve seen days without tracks in the snow on our road. Most winters, we get stranded by the drifts up here. Only oil trucks and a few local ranchers travel this road surrounded entirely by our ranch for 3 miles across 2 states.

With the green season above, there are three seasons up here. White season or simply “the snowy time”. Brown Season hereby defined as ground with no snow. And green season, when there is no snow and just a little brown. Last year was a VERY rare long green season when AUGUST had green grass. Almost unheard of up here in the borderlands. This was certainly the most wet year in my 20 year memory on this ground.

I consider winters here easy. I spent a decade in Jackson Hole Wyoming dealing with 6 feet of snow flat every year in the back yard. We do get some good snows with WINDS here on the border. Jackson Hole is not overly windy. We have WAY more drifting than Jackson did. I used to snow blow a foot of powder snow a couple of times a month. Snow seldom drifted like it does here.. Jackson Wins the snow amounts hands down over here in the borderlands. We win here with the amount of wind. Jackson is Colder of course.

I’ve lived 30 years in Wyoming this year. I first came here as a student of geology 40 years ago in 1980.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Windmill’s Green Spring Morning

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Angus in Crimson Alpenglow

Angus in Crimson Alpenglow
Angus in Crimson Alpenglow

Angus in Crimson Alpenglow

From 6 months ago, this rare summer Alpenglow twilight silhouetted this Angus Mother. Summer Alpenglow isn’t too common. This effect is due to atmospheric Ice acting as a projector screen. The projector is only capable of illuminating the ice with hard to stop red light. Dust and Ice in the atmosphere filter out all other colors but the red frequencies. All between the sun and the camera. In the real world, the horizon rises to cover the sun. Being down a while, a lot of air is between my lens/the projector screen here. The decimated shorter wavelengths are not available to refract off the suspended atmospheric ice for my cameras to harvest. They are after all, only photon gathering devices 📷

How could you tell this is a summer Alpenglow versus a winter alpenglow? Well all the flies buzzing around this poor gal sort of give it away.👀😜. I haven’t seen insects in a few months except for down in my greenhouse. We are pretty deep into winter currently here in Wyotana. Flies are a perpetual summer plague for cattle around the world. It’s a good thing the cattle are there as those flies could all be coming after us lololol.

Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Angus in Crimson Alpenglow

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Playful Western Sky Show

Playful Western Sky Show
Playful Western Sky Show

Playful Western Sky Show

This is such a wonderful play of colors on this sunset, I thought it worthy of Christmas Eve. I’ve photographed well over a thousand sunsets going into twilight. This one ranks right up there. I often start in the golden hour then staying up on the ridges through the maximum twilight. I’ve gotten many images of this period after sunset. Often heading home from working catching photons. Not many twilights I see are this vibrant. Within this cacophony of colors, every color of the rainbow is displayed .

Lots of dust and moisture in the air effect western sunsets. I’ve never experienced better sunsets than I’ve seen here on the Montana/Wyoming border. Montana is to the far right and Wyoming is to the left on this image. As seen from my ranch, the little Mountain range on the horizon is the Big Horn Range. A 50mm lens took this scene.. Your eyes see the world in a very similar way to a 50mm lens. Typically, I often post close ups of the peaks from this distance. This is the way that your eyes would see the scene. The mountains really do look that small. Your thumb held out at an arms length would cover the 13,000 foot tall peaks over 130 miles distant from my lens.

This should give many of you an entirely different perspective of the close ups of the Big Horn Mountains than I normally post. Good long telephoto lenses will do wonderful work if you have them. Buy them generationally as lenses last a long time. It’s camera backs that are throw away after a few years. I actually have to repair several cameras a year as I wear out the controls literally. If you work on manual all the time, your spinning exposures and fstops every photo virtually.

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

Title: Playful Western Sky Show