As the solstice is tomorrow, I thought I’d show you what a Bighorn Mountain sideshow looks like with a far northern sunset. The sun is WAY off to the right of the frame. The landscape ladder here climbing off to the 130 mile distant 13000 foot tall peaks leaves me speechless more times than not. Now this is a very long lens which crushes perspective. The second furthest ridge is 40 miles away from the ridge I’m standing on. My elevation is about the same as the saddle on that second to last ridge. The red layered badlands are only 10 miles distant.
Those red banded layer hills are all Tullock Formation. The rocks exposed on the surface all the way back to the Bighorns have been carried there. A complex process by rivers of the past. These moving eroded by the elements, sediments off the peaks. All running down slope from those world class hills. At one time there was a smooth ramp all the way to the peaks to my feet. It was a smooth slope that huge alluvial fans were deposited off the Bighorns. The middle of those alluvial fan stack are dissected at right angles by the Big Horn, the Powder and the Little Powder Rivers.
The rocks I stand on are older Cretaceous Terrestrial Sandstones with their share of Dinosaurian fossils. (Hell Creek/ Lance Formations) These older sandstones are dipping toward the Bighorn’s Powder River Basin being downwarped with the formation of that regional structure. About a mile off my ranch’s west boundary, the alluvial fans overlapped the Cretaceous River Sands. The dinosaur fossil bearing rocks diving deep off toward the mountains.
These guys are sandpipers with obscenely long bills. Since the male and female Curlews look pretty much alike with minor differences in the bill I’m not qualified to call. What I like about these guys is that they are grasshopper eating machines in the summer. They over winters in wetland marshes and other shore line estuaries. It couldn’t get much further away from the ocean as we are only a few hundred miles away from the geographic center of North America. They like this highland grassy ridge to breed and set their nests in.
They are fussy birds if you come into their domain. Male displays over their nesting territory are impressive with loud ringing calls. They will circle about making lots of fuss trying to lead you away from the nest. Entertaining if your a photographer as catching them in not easy tracking with a long lens. Challenging is what I call it. I often find them driving along the two track trails as I’m on the flats below the higher ridges. Mostly a flat field grassy nesting bird rather than preferring a hillside with a view as I’ve seen them.
I understand that across their range, the numbers of this amusing bird are dropping with the reduction in natural grass land turned to mono-crop agricultural uses. They of course use wild non – tilled prairie to nest and feed during the summer months. A classic case of reduce the habitat and reduce the numbers. 😔
It’s green spring grass contrasted with Snow on the 130 mile distant peaks. This image is taken from my driveway here on the MT/WY border. Clearly “Nipple” butte stands 10 miles distant. The treed ridge is 40 miles out with the trees at the top of that ridge being the same elevation I stand/live. The 13000 foot high peaks of the Bighorn Mountain Chain reach far above that but well over the curvature of the horizon at it’s base. . Even further out than the range the bank of clouds stands perhaps 200 miles out from my camera.
Anything over 100 miles is a long photograph. Particularly through the low earth’s atmosphere. It take extraordinarily clear air to get detailed images of the Bighorn Mountains from this distance. To get images of the clouds well past it… That is a silly far shot. Now I take images of astronomical objects millions of miles away but only through 300 miles of atmosphere. MOST of that atmosphere is in the bottom 10 miles of the blanket. About equivalent to where Nipple Butte is….
TO find the distance to your “horizon, take the height of above the surface of your view point divide that by 0.5736 , then take the square root of that number and you have the distance to the horizon from your viewpoint. If your 6 feet tall the horizon is about 3 miles away. Works very well on flat ground… up here where there might be a few ridges around, it depends on topography too lolol.
Imagine what a pioneer traveling to those peaks with an ox cart thought when he saw this vista. 🤔👀
The subtle hues of this image of theBigHorn Mountains are amazing colors to cover a landscape with. It was really that color, you could feel the humidity in the air. Wet sage too.
I saw this developing the other night. I’ve been on a mission to catch the orange light behind the BigHorn Mountains. Some nights, the weather window is closed to the mountains. Closed to the sun that window was that night. It hid far to the right off frame. The 130 miles distant 13,000 foot high mountain range was shrouded in the mist. All that air between my lens and the peaks are full of moisture and dust. This at the end of that nights sky show performance. Result: a subtle low light scene with an orange gel in front over the now moist spring landscape. Alpenglow in the spring.
I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The range is playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have many good captures from this month of the ranch which will slowly work their way into my work flow here.
The first dark ridge is 10 miles distant. The next darker ridge in the middle is 40 miles out. Taken with a 800 mm telephoto capture on a very high resolution camera. If you hold a postage stamp at arms length and place it against the horizon, this image would fit into a square that size. Big lenses take place a very small part of the scene in front of you covering the cameras chip image area.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.
How to fill a frame? How about a look through a very delicate highly weathered antique root system. A long time ago, this tree went down a hill riding a landslide. The ride tipped it over exposing it’s still covered/intact root ball. That ball preserved all the Pine Trees finer parts of it’s root system within it’s embrace. Having grown in soft sand (more or less), the tree’s roots shortly were exposed by rain / freezing / thawing. One grain at a time blowing or falling off that ball slowly exposing the anastomosing forms / connections once under soil.
Being located upon a steep slope with unsure footing surely keeps cattle away from rubbing on these delicate root structures. I don’t know how old the tree is but in this dry climate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 100 year old piece of “Prairie Driftwood”. That’s 100 years AFTER it died. There is nothing on the surface of the slope to indicate more than a slight amount of excess sandy sediment. There is no other way to explain the delicate nature of this. Vegetation quickly naturalized surfaces when disturbed in sandstone country. This is indeed sandstone country. All the soils here developed from the sandy river deposits left behind while the last of the dinosaur were walking about the land. I’m as likely to find a dinosaur bone as I am a scene like this.
Lining Deer UP from hundreds of yards away against the setting sun is an exercise in understanding topography. By working parallel ridges I get to stay hundreds of yards away from the casual deer. not alert the deer and am still able to get far enough away to catch a foreground object in focus for three layers of image here.
I only get to have the planets align like this a few times a year. I only had one opportunity this year to have deer pose for me in front of such a show. Images like this are infrequent in their occurrence for me to work. In reality this is going on all the time, there just isn’t anyone there to take the photo. Getting into the right position for this is a lucky event.
I have known these two bucks for a few years and because aware of their tendency to walk this ridge an hour before sunset. They were on their way from their grass pasture to the water hole on the other side. Almost every day these two walked this ridge like clockwork. Following the same trail daily These two are still around. I’m not sure exactly where yet as it’s early in the year and their antlers help me ID them sometimes…. The Backcountry is challenging to get back into at the moment. MUD!! I see them both on game trail cameras near the water holes we keep open. The closest running water which is some distance from this high ground.
When ever I point a really long lens directly into the sun, I’m going to get either Burnt Umber or Crimson colors. The latter was gifted to me here. You have to realize that no one knows what this would look like because you would be blinded to stare into such a scene. Using a 28 inch long lens to crush the perspective of about a mile distance from the tree pair. Shutting the camera down to light leads to all sorts of interesting effects. (mostly diffractions).
Obviously those two trees (Ents) were up to no good. Catching the sun like that trying to keep it all to themselves. Fortunately the sun had the state of mind to sneak out the back and disappear behind the ridge. The two didn’t have a clue how it got away but no matter how many times they try this, it never seems to slow down the sun very much. IT still rises more or less on time every day. Imagine if a whole forest did this at one time… think it might slow it down?
I work in a wondrous world of parallel ridges that when very mobile, allows me to find events like this to point my camera toward. By being able to move up and down topography quickly extends my ability to find such scenes. It is a truism that topography is my master. 10 feet lower, and the sun would be below the horizon, 20 feet higher and it wouldn’t be in the trees but above. Location, Location, Location…
It took me about 10 minutes to drive up this close once I crested the nearby hill exposing my self. . When I approach this area, I slowly encroach in steps. It’s comparable to imitating a grazing animal. The Raptor is pretty quiet. Particularly when compared to my previous clinking rattleing Jeep Grand Cherokee. This new rig is also very Black, dark and stealthy in it’s appearance. Lots of black animals walking around the hills (angus cattle). So my new rig is working very well to integrate into the scheme of things up here.
The various creatures on ranch will become accustomed to that new Ford F-150 Raptor with time. I also worked a herd of deer this same evening getting very close for this early in the season.
The return of the Great Blue Herons signifies the start of nesting season. I have only seen 8 Herons actively nesting so far. There may be some others to straggle in as they work their way back from winter haunts south. There are 7 nests in the trees across the lake from where this guy stands here. (one newly built this year) The male here did just fly up to the nest greeting it’s mate with a 3 Musketeers sword/beak swish caught here. They didn’t care about my approach and were fine in my rear view mirror when I backed up and away to change the scene. (got enough photos lolol).
There are actually several models/makers of this and similar vaneless windmill that this one could be. I’m not sure which it is positively…
Windmill technology had been around since 200 BC in China. By the 11th century with big mills in Europe. To grind grain and drain swamps were their main use. The technology brought into Europe by the Crusaders returning home. By the 1700’s the industrial revolution using water and eventually steam power reduced their use considerably. (Notable exception for the dutch). But in the Early 1800’s the new settlers to the Great Plains of America had a use for the wind engines. The Emigrants from Europe brought wind power with them. The western frontier provided a crucible. Upon which the technology constantly proved it’s merit. Pumping water was it’s task.
In the American West, settlers used wind to do work and conquer the land that otherwise would be marginal without a water source for stock. By the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, small wind generated water wells were ubiquitous across the country. Almost as numerous as the mills were the companies manufacturing them great and small.
As rural electrification proceeded the number of Windmill’s declined starting in the 1930’s. We used a windmill in a remote pasture until 2006. We ran a water pipeline from an electric well about 2 miles to it. There is also a solar powered well on our ranch.
These little birds are difficult to get close to and never pose long for you to take your time setting your camera up. Now catching on at ground level is a tricky stunt to say the least. I won’t give away my secrets on this one but it’s a good story. You really can’t move much once it knows your there. These guys cue on movement and react usually with an escape maneuver. Once they sense danger, there is no stopping them. This is a telephoto capture NOT a game trail camera….
Generally Meadowlarks are singing fools. If they aren’t actively hunting insects (slim picking this spring so far), they are yelling at the top of their lungs. I’ve pursued them for years. I’m pretty sure I’ve worn out a set of brake pads slowing down / stopping to try to capture their images. I have literally hundreds of attempts to photograph them where all I accomplished was to stop my forward momentum to the next photo location lolol.. Off they fly if you give them ANY reason to.
I will continue to hit the brakes when I sense their presence. Driving backroads often will give you long sections of fences to hunt meadowlarks. Having said that, places to perch are rare in the backcountry. Preferred locations with a view in mid prairie are well populated with these guys. Deep spring snows will place a premium on those perch locations. I find the morning after a good snow the best time to find them competing for places to alight.
Landscape Ladder was taken a week ago as this posts. The grassy remote ridgetop I was on, gives way to the Little Powder River Valley across the first ridge at 10 miles distance.
The next ridge is the Red Hills 40 miles out, is backed by the 13000 foot high peaks. Those of the core of the BigHorn Mountain Uplift.
The Powder RIver Basin between the Mountains any my ranch pretty much ends at my ranch. I’m living right on the edge between the Wyoming Black Hills and the Powder River basin. Just west of my ranch, dinosaur fossil bearing rock that is older than the Big Horn Uplift. They dive under the sediments worn off the BigHorn Mountains.
Our Ranch is as high topograpically above the Little Powder River Valley Floor as the dark 40 mile distant ridge. It allows me to see the BigHorn peaks at this 130 mile distance. Weather windows to the BigHorns have been more plentiful this year unlike previous ones.
The sun is currently setting well north of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. IT was still up at this capture… I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next fall again. The sun will continue to set a little more north each day till the summer solstice. Then it starts to rise and set a little further south each day until the Winter Solstice. I try to be very in tune to such things as my daily photographic activities take into account moon rise, sunsets with the time of year. Angles of sunrise and sunset are critical to where I go to photograph these days. Weather has the greatest impact of course.
Taken 8 days ago as this posts, the snow is melted, the 60 degree days of late spring have won. The mud season has relented for this morning and I was able to ascend to a high ridge. All without damaging the two track trail along the journey. The sun rose at 6AM for this capture. My itinerary for this trip up to the local roof of the world started 1/2 hour before at 5:30. I usually leave early to get most of Civil Twilight in my photographic timeline. Working the ridge all the wayThis particular morning was a 700+ image morning. I worked 12 scenes over all that will end up as final finished prints in my portfolio. From Twilight, to sunrise, to meadowlarks, deer and Pronghorn all morning. This timeline ended up with a rainbow from the storms incoming from the west this day.
I was working out of my Ford Raptors drivers window as the wind was kicking up. There was a bit of buffeting of the camera ongoing but with this much light, a little camera movement isn’t much of an issue lol. I don’t like to have a heater on as the heat waves against the cold outside can significantly distort the image coming into your camera. I try to keep the vehicle at ambient temperature unless that is just stupid to the mission. I’ve seen a few days like that at -20 or 100 plus outside. I find my tolerance of distorted images increases at those envelope edges. Perhaps it’s just old age creeping up and I’m getting wussy… 😜👅
Off to the right, commonly known as a “Mock Sun” or “Sun Dog, this is a Parhelian or “Mock Sun” It occurs at 22 degrees angle from the sun. There are many manifestations of this. This capture was a few miles back in the backcountry while I was driving parallel ridges for that evenings sunset.
Caused by Diffraction which is the slight bending of light as it passes around the edge or through an transparent object. In the atmosphere, diffracted light is actually bent around atmospheric particles – most commonly, the atmospheric particles are tiny water droplets found in clouds. Ice is common too. Diffracted light can produce fringes of light, dark, or colored bands. Here Hexagonal plates of ice are falling actively from the sky. Ice Hexagonal plates Frozen in Space and Time as they fell (literally and figuratively).
It was a cold evening for this sky show. This ice was hazing up the whole sky. I drive up the ridge and POP and there was the sun dog out of the “blue”…. Slide to a stop, enjoy the view while the camera comes out of sleep, compose, set the final settings, focus and click. The image is about 60 degrees wide overall. Love the Veiled Sun.
A tad of Photographic musing:
Priority (working on Manual) Your lenses will differ than mine but close focus is necessary for such a long image with a telephoto. The snags here are relatively easy… because… . I used High F-stop as my priority choice for looking into the sun. That’s a deep focal field your seeing. (high f stop numbers mean a deep field of focus) It’s there to use but at the cost of a lot less light going into the camera. That is a good thing looking into brightness. Your only able to gather light through the now pin hole in the lens’s aperture). Google f-stop and learn what it means (if your trying to learn how to use your camera.
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. This one was REACHING out my direction lolol. It’s miles long.
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 outline. 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 on the cars passenger window on clamp tripods. Using Lightning Triggers allow you to set your camera to click with the bolt. My Sony Mirrorless respond within a few milli-seconds to the initial start of the flash. I usually use about 1/4second or longer time 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. 📸
Taken a few days ago. This is a VERY bright scene but the sun was indeed markedly yellow and the sky orange around the glare of the sun 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 post. When taking such images, shutting down the camera to light is a necessity. The lens is an 28 inch long 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 and diffraction effects are rife. 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 overwhelmed and diffracted around the branches. though. Makes it look like it on this side of the tree lolol.
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 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 but will tend to cause those diffraction effects where the light wraps around and hides the branches.
No this is not just outside Sanford and Son’s and no fake heart attacks here (Do you know the classical reference?)
So Game Trail Cameras play an important role in my understanding of game and predator patterns of movement. I have discovered that every canid that goes by this stick either pees on it or chews on it lolol. Apparently it is a community boundary between Coyotes and Red Foxes. I see Coyotes coming in from the east and these guys from the south. There may be some overlap in their territories but I suspect the two different species are NOT the best of friends. Top of that stick is definitely chewed on by many animals.
These Remote auto cameras definitely clue me in to behavior that I would normally have NO chance in capturing. I could sit down in this gully in a regular wildlife blind for days without any activity with a regular camera. Not that I have anything better to do on any particular day lolol. I think I’ll let the auto cameras do the work. These two were definitely on the hunt though. They just had to pay homage to the marks other left behind as a matter of due course I’m thinking.. 👀😜
Night images via Infra-Red flash are all to capture grainier than daylight images. The quality is more like a well printed newspaper than a high quality/resolution capture from a 5 thousand dollar camera rig. They may be grainy but they sure are Candid!. This is an 18 inch by 18 inch aspect final📸📸📸
Alpenglow occurs both before and after sunset. You see different colors with time as the sun light moves has to plow through progressively longer paths through the atmosphere. As the horizon draws closer to the sun, the colors that survive the trip are longer wavelengths like red and orange. Rich crimson is the result of only the longest wavelengths making it through that smoke, dust, moisture laden longest path where the light is actually bent around the globe a bit. Yellow skies like this are late results of a clear sky sunrise. Yellow is the last gasp of the twilight deeper colors. Blue Sky isn’t far away. (This is a VERY small area of the sky and the close ridge is 5 miles out)
Alpenglow as this exists because suspended atmospheric ice acts as a projection screen dominating the skies in the winter. What you see here is the result of illuminated/ lit up suspended small ice crystals shining yellow. That is the dominate color for this length of travel through the atmosphere. Just a few minutes before, this was red as these stage shows constantly change the set of the play.
Don’t forget: When the moon or the sun is ON the horizon, it is in reality below the actual line of sight. Hiding behind the earth. It’s image curves around the globe a little due to the atmospheric lensing. Only orange/red light makes it through that gauntlet giving us twilight colors.
Musings on working ridges with cameras. :
I am always looking for Layers of ridges. A “Landscape Ladder” so to speak. Working the high ridge country here on the Montana / Wyoming border is wonderful for finding such “ladders”. Parallel Ridges aligned at right angles to the sunrise and sunset creates unlimited opportunity way to work shadow lines photographically. You can usually find dozens of worthy sunsets and sunrises captures on the ridges following/moving along that shadow line. Many interesting foreground objects magically appear that way. Those are useful in the close part of the close/far perspective (the goal) . Start an hour before the event is my suggestion.
This method of working the landscape works very well for moon perspectives I find. Moving along that shadow line, on an opposite ridge, I’m able to maneuver down topography for a sunrise and up for a sunset. One can follow the sun/moon up/down over the “event” by changing my position. Ridges let me work the moon (for example) for an hour instead of 5 minutes that I would have on flat ground. It helps to be very agile getting about too. Cover more ground, get more captures.
I caught this one with a quality game trail camera I just checked the “roll” timeline as the mud season has had some dry periods. Enables me to get into the backcountry that does. Miles from anywhere. This particular camera has been alone in the backcountry since December 2019 almost 5 months ago. Batteries were still 60 percent lolol. From this camera, came dozens WONDERFUL captures of coyote, fox, skunk, porcupine, raccoon, mule deer, whitetail deer and finally pronghorn over it’s tenure in this spot. BEST roll off a Game Trail I’ve ever seen in years of this. Two different cameras were planted in this spot. They actually took good photos mostly. They are 30 meg each raw if you want to know. Higher resolution than most DSLRs in use. (I run a network of 28 game cameras at the moment).
Located at a wildlife funnel. The fences lead all to this gully and then the gully provides a lot of security to these animals here as it’s well forested. There are several “marked” spots that both coyote and fox are chewing on a particular stick there. This was with out a doubt the best game trail camera timeline I’ve ever looked at. .
This guy has pretty wet fur down low. He’s been traveling and putting out some heat out of those legs. Mid winter here is harsh on everyone. Every calorie of energy expended to melt snow, has to be replaced. The Coyote eating more than a stick in the corner sometime during the week. These guys are eating machine no doubt. They don’t bite horribly hard but they bite about 4 times a second based on what I’ve seen from a tame one I met. They make a lot of holes with their chompers. Mostly they eat mice/voles/prairie rats and anything else that they can catch. Unfortunately sometimes that includes young livestock. This gives them a most unwelcome reception at most ranches around these “here” parts up on the border.
Wiley here and a few of his mates make return after return to this spot over the last few months. I nailed the placement of this camera. Of course I will maintain them. Might set up another with movie mode on. The fox captures are amazing too. This camera even caught a 5 image sequence of a doe deer chasing a sharp tailed grouse wanting to stomp it. ….. Stay tuned.
Merging together silhouettes will if the lighting is conducive for such. One of these guys is a “butt head” it seems…. Your choice as to which one 😜
The Alpenglow from the suspended Atmospheric Ice was the backdrop for this evenings stage play. As I move from one photographic opportunity to another working the light, I see many things. Some are worthy of your time so I point my photon capture boxes in that direction trapping a few.
I watched these guys watch the setting sun between my main job of taking snap shots of the actual sunset that night lol. Deer definitely check out the sunset. I’ve seen them do it. The evening progressed from blinding bright sunset to the right saturated tones of the twilight. The “boys” got back to the main business of finding tasty morsels on the hillside.
These two Spring antler growing bucks have their bony horns covered in “Velvet”. This time of year (about a month from now) is prime antler growth time. I actually have a smaller “Stag” buck up here that still has it’s antlers. HE’s an oddball though. Everyone else shed theirs in January as did these two. The grow back very quickly with a blood vessel rich “Velvet” skin nourishing the growing bone from the buttons on their skull cap.
Yes there is actually a small cave passing all the way under that boulder. One can crawl in there with all the other creepy things that might live in such a place if you had to get out of the weather. (from the other side lol). That hole is the back window with a view over my shoulder…
It really was pink for this Moon Rise. Caught the Egg Moon at the moment of lift off from the horizon. This Mountain ridge is 10 miles out from my camera. This moon rise was 94 degrees east on the compass. (corrected for magnetic declination of course). You see magnetic north is not the same as geographic north. There are 8 degrees 44 minutes difference here at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. If you use a compass and don’t correct it for Polar Wandering of the magnetic pole, your navigation is off a bit. Makes a big difference the further you go lol.
The tendency to crush perspective is a property of long focal length lenses. This 1200 mm is about 28 inches long. It is looking at an area of that distant ridge that is about the size of a postage stamp at arms length. The distant stamp would cover the moon and the ridge in this photo more or less. This really zooms up on the ridge. The moon too but the relatively closer ridge, is disproportionally enlarges. If I were to jump into a car and drive 5 more miles back, the moon would still look this big but the ridge would look a lot smaller by comparison. The relatively smaller ridge with the moon about the same size would be the result. The moon appears to grow as I move further away from the ridge.
I’m always saying I work “Parallel Ridges” photographically but actually showing parallel ridges isn’t easy. These long shadows during this late golden hour moment accentuate the topography in this landscape. The coloration was natural in this low light civil twilight sky. Atmospheric Ice will do this. It’s called “Alpenglow” if you haven’t googled that before. …
Autumn is in full effect for this country. Most of the ranches trees are behind me but this treed gully provides some foreground color in this image. A lot of grasses have a reddish hue to them as well as the various deciduous trees in the valley.
There is a lot of ground covered in this frame. 40 miles out to the far ridge which part of the Red Hills up in Montana. I’m on what I call Ridge one which is about 1 mile inside of Wyoming. I really enjoy working this country with cameras. There are infinite angles and slopes to work ridge lines to properly corral light into your camera. Wild life encounters set off the experience. I never know what I’m going to run into up here. This is a land of many uses.
Your actually looking across 2 good sized river valleys. Ranch creek is the first big valley in the distance. Ranch Creek eventually feeds the Little Powder River which resides in the second valley. These small rivers removed all that sediment between the tallest peaks. The ground used to reach between the peaks and filled in all that valley area. Little rivers do LOTS of erosion over a LOT of time by a LITTLE at a time. 🤔⚒
I went to Gillette two weeks ago (now as this posts) to deliver ammunition to a local gun store. (as I build such under Federal License) Heading back from ONLY the gun store and a fast food joint….. Any how I had a stash of McDonalds Double Cheese burgers (perfect for freezer implantation for later) in the back seat under a coat. (Somethings you don’t want to go through a global pandemic without ). All warm and snug there there were .
.So I had the bright Idea of taking a backroad loop I had never been on before on the way home. It’s was a 50+ mile addition to my 70 mile trip home (burgers were fine). They were still pretty warm as the down coat was effective as an insulator. That and the back seat heat vent driving with the windows open lolol. I digress….
So I’m driving along in undiscovered country with ranch names I’ve heard of but never seen before. Most roads in this country parallel drainage. Certainly crossing small creeks presented engineers with various problems. I was going 45 (which is the gravel road speed limit). Driving past the small groups of Pronghorn and mule deer . I didn’t see any White Tail or Elk on this drive. Moving along to actually cover a lot of ground. Saw this…I tried to lock up all 4 wheels but the antilock breaks got in the way again. I’m a purist and really enjoy simple cars with real feedback but that’s another narrative…..
Anyway, this scene stood out like a diamond in a very late brown season rough. The old roadway paralleled the existing road for hundreds of feed only to cross at this point. SOMEONE was the last personal to drive a vehicle over that thing. A student of water flow and drainage, I imagine , how many spring floods or flash floods from a summer thunderstorm this old infrastructure project has stood up to. Still here!
Routing: Random… Basically, drive 30 miles north of Gillette. Turn right at Weston… drive 30 miles out of my way, turn left 30 miles, turn left 30 miles…. (Basically my itinerary for this trip) lolol.
Location: Heald Road, Campbell County Wyoming. 30 miles south of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana)
The Great Blue Heron is also know as Ardea herodias by hobbiests and professionals alike. This gal was shore wading out 150 yards out, the sun was setting. You know, a classic wetland scene. Really not common up in this high dry ridge country….. Seeing a Heron out on the ranch is rare unless you go to where they hang out. They are not known for hanging out on the high dry ridges of the grasslands. Fortunately we have several small lakes on the ranch. This lake is a spring fed OLD man made lake dammed up around the turn of the century. Early cattle drives watered here even before the dam was built.
These are BIG birds weighing in at 4.5 – 5.5 pounds, stand 5 foot tall with a 5 foot wingspan….. They are AMAZING circus performers. Being total masters of their environment, they have superpowers!📸 I observed this one through a 1200mm 28 inch long lenses while I was on an adjacent shore across the lake. Watched it for about 20 minutes, finally it took off tired of watching me I suspect lol. The light was fading fast, I’m trying to get detailed shots of a still bird so the camera settings were not quite fast enough to totally freeze in ice the wing tips. Getting at lake level while a spooky bird watches but doesn’t fly way is a good thing :). The rules of Physics and technological limitations again demonstrate they are my masters. (along with topography if you follow my narratives 😜. )
The peaks in the distance, known as the Red Hills reach 40 miles out from the camera. Most folks out east would call them Mountains. We live basically at the same elevation (4000 ft) as the ridge tops on those hills. The “Little Powder River” Basin lays between myself and the Red Hills in the distance.. Part of the right side of that ridge is in Montana while I’m standing in and looking at 1/2 a Wyoming , 1/2 a Montana scene. This Gibbous Moon captured here in the process of heading for the horizon/setting. Remember it’s not the moon that’s moving. It’s the horizon/you. I chase the moon from time to time. Sunrise over my shoulder was an amazing show that morning… Nice snow for an Early April.
The full moon that morning was too late setting that day for me to nab it’s photons while in the Belt of Venus. 😔 The “Belt of Venus has dissipated with the blue wavelengths finally making it through to the atmospheric Ice clearly suspended in the low atmosphere here. That icy haze was rich pink red 20 minutes earlier before the sunrise. that morning. The time lines from a really good sunrise/sunset might run 2 hours long for me. I might take 800 -1000 images during that two hours. Out of those, maybe 4 or 5 will make it into my work flow.
A magical “Belt of Venus” evening up in the eastern Sky. . The sunset was 10 minutes past behind my shoulder as the blue stripe on the far horizon shows. That blue is the shadow of the western/opposite horizon blocking the long red light from the sun just over the lip. The pink projected onto the Ice suspended in the atmosphere are the reflections from the long wavelengths make it to my camera lens.
This ground is relatively easy to get to in the summer and fall as it’s on a local county road lol. This was taken spring 2019 as the snow pack started to melt into ponds as which provided the mirror for this capture. .
Close / Far perspectives are a complex photographic challenge for all of you. An automatic setting on your camera is not going to do this image.
I’ve gone through the technical basics a few times. I would entertain questions below for photographic solutions to your working on manual mode aversion. (Kind of like fear of swimming). You just have to jump in and turn that top dial to M. Then you figure out which control wheel controls each of the three settings you change in manual mode. ISO (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (size of the aperture/pupil in the lens), finally Shutter Speed.
You only need to understand those three things to run on Manual mode. Their relationship to each other and how messing with one, requires you to mess with the others. Just a tad to compensate the amount of light coming into the camera. Your riding a three way light teeter totter trying to balance those settings.
This mood setting Blue image posted only 24 hours after my last blue image……. Starting a trend perhaps…… I was just musing that a moody blue scene was rare in my portfolio. . I’ve even been accused of being blue blind by more than one individual. Having said that, I try really hard to be photorealistic in what I do. I do consider myself a landscape photographer. This doesn’t mean I’m not biased in my pursuit of crimson skies with silhouetted land. I am biased in my choices. . I way disproportionally post fully engaged complex skies. Obviously simple was better here.
This is almost exactly on the Montana / Wyoming border with it pretty much running through that largest tree. That is 45˚ North Latitude as close as the civilian GPS I use, can locate. Well endowed our ranch is geographically. That major meridian runs through us for about 2 miles linear of the Montana/Wyoming border in our ranches boundaries. I have over the decades gotten a pretty good idea where it is at any one time and by landscape features. That invisible line is literally 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole (the Montana/Wyoming border too).🤔 We are also about 120 miles from the geographic center of the North American continent. You couldn’t get much further from an Ocean than this spot….literally lol. No local “Red Lobster”. We have to drive 150 miles to the closest one. 😔
To me the ultimate perspectives are the foggy ones. Shadows within frame set up by the sun presented themselves to me. Foggy sunrises are not a common thing up here in the high country. There is a lot of topography here. Differences in elevation a mile apart can be 3-400 feet in this backcountry. Big Long ridge tops tower over the surrounding drainage. In order to see the sun in this area, one has to be on a ridge top. Fog is not as common on ridges. When It is, I try to be there.
I’m trying to remember how many of this kind of photo I have…. errr,…. none but this one I think. Foggy shadows are rare in my world of backcountry ridges here in the highlands. I see fog in the valleys rarely, 5 or 6 times a year. More likely, the cloud deck moves down with no mercy over us with 100 yards visibility at a bright LED Bulb. Totally obscuring all but grey flat light.
I’ve been OVER a cloud deck like this only few times up here. I got lucky anticipating the clearing above the Inversion layer, I went outside and saw a few stars break through a small window. On that, I took a trip to the highest point I can drive to around and instantly was in the clear. This is one such time. There were just wisps of moisture pushing over the ridge top this unusual morning. It was fully overcast flat light down in the valleys lolol. 👀📸
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. The sunset is far right off frame looking from the Montana/Wyoming border to the southwest toward the range.
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. When the alpenglow colorcasts the snow on the Mountains, I get interested 👀📸.
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. Orange here is a mixture. 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.
I find that the moon is a lazy celestial object. Always sitting down on the job. Here I caught the sneaky planetoid before lifting off the backcountry folding chair it was sitting on. Who knows how long it was sitting there. I mean it only moved after I pointed a camera at it… This color is it’s “Blush” of “being caught” sitting down on the job I suspect. I’ve seen a red flush before too. Easily flustered I think… 😜📸
I catch our old orbiting neighbor resting on unusual things all the time walking parallel Ridges along the shadow line. Missed are a million moments in time depending on the angle you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. I’m always looking at angles and what I have to do to achieve the perspective I’m looking for.
The ability to anticipate the way things WILL happen and being there with a camera in your hand is about 50 percent of the photography game. The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography of course. You can’t walk where there isn’t ground I have found. 😔🤘
Halo’s around the moon are tough to capture. Try it…. I’ve been known to climb on my vehicles roof to get just a little more height. It would be nice to have a folding ladder from time to time too angles being what angles are. . 😜
These guys are sandpipers with obscenely long bills. Since the male and female Curlews look pretty much alike with minor differences in the bill I’m not qualified to call. What I like about these guys is that they are grasshopper eating machines in the summer. They over winters in wetland marshes and other shore line estuaries. It couldn’t get much further away from the ocean as we are only a few hundred miles away from the geographic center of North America. These guys are our largest shore bird in North America. (National Audubon).
They are fussy birds if you come into their domain. Male displays over their nesting territory are impressive with loud ringing callsThey will circle about making lots of fuss trying to lead you away from the nest. I find them driving along the two track trails as I’m on the flats below the higher ridges. Mostly a flat field grassy nesting bird rather than preferring a hillside with a view as I’ve seen them.
This was a late spring snow storm from the spring of 2019. It caught everybody by surprise. Robins, Meadowlarks and Curlews were wading knee deep in the white stuff. Much to their collective dismay I’m sure. I understand that across their range, the numbers of this amusing bird are dropping with the reduction in natural grass land turned to mono-crop agricultural uses. They of course use wild non – tilled prairie to nest and feed during the summer months. A classic case of reduce the habitat and reduce the numbers. 😔