So I wake up the other morning and much to my surprise, was a local pyramidal hillock that was blowing it’s top. The steam was rising, the cauldron boiling. I anticipate pyroclastic flows, lahars, glowing red hot clouds and other volcanic manifestations similar to what buried Pompeii. Ash should start falling any moment. Maybe “Sneaky Pete” the windmill will save the day and blow the ash away…
Back to my normal programming: OK, this is NOT a volcano. It takes a properly positioned camera lol. Those are normal clouds up in the sky. Yellowstone is not blowing up. The Devil’s Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck field about 50 miles to my southeast has not reactivated. No, the Laramide Orogeny has not started back up just yet.
That Butte (called Turtle Butte), is made of layers of river sands stacked on top of one another. The volcanic shape is a result of a hard cap rock which resisted erosion better than every thing else between it and myself. All that rock has been removed by erosion. It is a erosive remnant of all the material that used to surround the hill. Hundreds of feet if not thousands of feet (depending on your location) of sediment has been removed around here. Remember Devils Tower? That used to be a mile or so deep. Now it sticks up 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. That river system essentially removed enough material to expose the harder tower. Same process here except just the top of the hill is harder rock.
That HUGE butte in silhouette(called “W” butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark. Seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border 35 miles distant. I’m standing in Wyoming. You can actually see the communications towers that are up there. An 18 inch wide tower at 35 miles is what is called “resolution”. I love how 1200 mm telephotos CRUSH perspective. Really high end camera backs give you very high megapixel count plus high dynamic range. The higher the megapixel count, the bigger you can print the image.
I seldom see naturally totally oversaturated clouds without me setting my camera incorrectly but the sky really was this color. I mention that because it’s looks very harlequin and un natural/odd to me. This is indeed what was down range of my lens that morning. I work very hard to get scenes to be a reproduction of what I experienced live real time. Looking back and forth between my video screen and the actual scene on almost every landscape/sunrise image is a good habit.
My process is to expose ONLY the highlights properly so as not to loose detail in them. I can worry about shadow detail in the digital darkroom. Interestingly, there was no detail in those crimsons back/bottom clouds to begin with. Nature doing the oversaturation is not that common in my experience. These cameras can usually look right through it to the detail hidden in the saturated area. IT wasn’t there to see from where I was…
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….
When the sun starts rising, I’m working very long lenses looking at little postage stamp at arms length sized areas of the sky. The tree was hundreds of yards out from my position as getting it in focus was a priority. Distance from the foreground object is your friend.
If camera settings need to be known, looking into a really bright scene like this, LOWEST ISO number, Higher fstop number and really fast shutter speeds. Most camera users need a neutral density filter in front of the lens but I don’t need them with this Sony Alpha 7. I really don’t like them on my cameras as I often get ghost images in really bright off lens center axis photos. Never use em. Neutral Density filters reduce the over all light coming into your camera.
Set your priorities and start working in Manual Mode folks. You can’t take images like this without it.
This is as close to the Crack of Dawn as I can get and still see anything more than a pinpoint of that big ball o fire. BTW….Pointing a normal DSLR camera into the sun is a bad idea if you don’t want to blind yourself. I use mirrorless cameras and more or less watch what I’m looking at with long big lenses on a little TV screen inside the eye viewer of the camera.
This was an unusually good sunrise that morning. I typically photograph most of civil twilight through the hour after the sunrise (golden hour). Mostly I photograph both sunrise and sunset shooting many hundreds a year usually over 400 a year historically. I’ve taken 57000 images since August 1. Looked at them all, finished around 6 a day average this month. It’s good to be busy😁