This little one was just having the time of his life with grass that survived the recent hail storm. It looks to me as if he’s smiling😜
I was driving backcountry up a steep ridge to position myself to work the oncoming sunset of that evening. My wildlife encounters are all random. Occurring as I drive from place to place on other chores. Mostly just on ranch usually though I do get some good wildlife encounters on county roads.
There is a lot to be said for covering a lot of territory quickly assuming you can stop lol. I usually move right along up the ridges along well traveled/known routes following the existing two track roads. Cresting the ridge top, I spied the group of 3, hit the breaks and stopped. I stumbled upon 3 total. This fawn, it’s not quite identical twin and mother standing in open grass. They were not 30 yards from me. The Raptor will automatically stop the engine (perfect backcountry photography vehicle bar none!) They just saw me pull up and stop about 50 yards away. Then a big eye stuck out of the black portable blind.
Deer being the jumpiest animal (short of Pronghorn) in this country, should have run. I definitely popped up and surprised them visually. I suspect they may smelled me with the wind at my back. They certainly heard me. Probably had the conversation just before I popped up of mom saying “here it comes, don’t worry about it”……. This baby member of the deer family didn’t seem in the least bit concerned. More importantly, it’s the mother who is unusually good with me. The fawns take their cues from mom. They should grow up allowing me near their world the more of these I do with them.
Now, I’m just another big black smelly, noisy grazing animal to them. I have no interest what so ever in startling them. If they are afraid of me, they will never let me close again. I eventually drove away having driven past them not far away leaving them essentially undisturbed. They were better than the sunset behind me for sure.
Photographic Musings: The lighting was perfect with the sun directly over my shoulders. Golden Hour, golden colorcast can be a problem which tends to make deer darker in color and orange out whites as that is the actual color of the light. I loved working this lighting. There are a dozen other captures from this encounter that are finished waiting for a narrative. Stay tuned… This is the twin with the perfect ears. The other is easy to ID. I’m working on names.
This happened 8 days ago as this posts. One of the first pictures I took in this timeline. I’m thinking I have about 18 images I’m going to finish eventually from this event. I was perfectly positioned by a coincidence of cosmic proportions lol. Of the 360 degrees on the compass, the sun setting behind a forest fire …. I’ve never seen such from this angle sun passing through. It isn’t something I’ve ever experienced.
For you Pariedolia sufferers, there is an angry Micky mouse trying to eat a landing bat for sure.😜 That pall of smoke TOTALLY blocked the sun behind it. The eventual play of light from this event was spectacular as you will see as the captures from this timeline make it into my workflow. Heck, this is pretty much a unique vision. ….
That is the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Homestead on the lower left of the frame. It makes a good scale for the HUGE WIDE image above. This was from my 10mm widest lens I own kind of optic. The top of the frame is past the zenith of the sky and the width is something like 130 degrees . That fire is Straight West of my ranch so Montana is literally on the right with Wyoming on the left. I’m standing in Wyoming for this capture but not by much (100 yards or so)
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.
Salt is the name of this Corriente’ Mother Cow. Still a bun in the oven due early June.. Walking around apparently with this “Right Turn Clyde” sign on her head. Must be tricky for all the low bridges around here..😜👀 We have a few Corriente’s breed around for their uniqueness and ease of care. You don’t have to do too much for them. They get run through vet checks and vaccinations with all the angus as necessary and are not trouble at all. Well there is the tendency to go where they want to go to. Fences really aren’t much of a problem for them. They usually get those horns involved and somehow work their way through. They CAN wander a little.
Why Longhorns? We raise them of course to sell to local ranches that like to lasso the calves as that is an active sport here in cowboy country because you can make some money off the easy to handle beasts.. (Actually it’s just a better arrangement. A lot of places raise their own. Bulls are problematic from them though as they tend to just walk through fences and try to breed with your neighbors angus herd…. Not good lol. Like most Cowboy sports… Roping is a sport that has a real life application as cowboys often have to rope cattle from horseback locally. I’m sure pretty much daily within a 20 mile circle from this ranch. This is still old west cattle country in many ways.
I never know what to expect from a sunset. Each one takes on a life of it’s own. I am constantly receiving/interpreting cues from the environment about what appears to be happening. I only have a few minutes to decide where I want to set up for the show soon to arrive. There is a quickening of my pace around this time of the evening as the setting sun usually terminates the light
I’m fairly agile in my Ford F-150 Raptor and able to cover a lot of ground fairly quickly as it is more or less a Baja Capable photographic Studio. I’m able to get around on just about any terrain I don’t want to tear up. Ruining trails I am not so much into. We strictly stay off of muddy surfaces. I have well traveled two track trails leading to most high points. I only drive off trail on private ground I own as a matter of principle. Over 80 percent of my trucks current milage off road.
Never expected this iteration on an infinite series of themes. It’s one I don’t normally see with the “Floaty” clouds light up with the deck just above them dark and foreboding. The starred sun which is in and of it self, an artifact of the camera’s high f-stop setting (diffraction artifact). None the less, it adds geometry and order to the chaos of the clouds that evening.
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.
Taken 10 days before it posts mid-may 2020. This is how long it takes me to get a “current” photo in to be published. That is if I bring it to the front of the line. I have to admit I have a bias for big Mammatus. (👀). When I say big you have to realize this storm is about 10 miles long. Admittedly this is a tiny storm for this country that occasionally has 100 mile across mesocyclones develop from these smaller storms. The shelf cloud off to the right was awesome in this storm.
This was one of a series of storms moving south to north along a line that evening. They all were just east of me along Parks/Garst Road up here in Wyotana. The little rainbow as you follow the red gravel road as it curves to the right, was a nice touch from the storm. Lightning? Not so much. The big views we have up on the high ridges gives up 50 to 180 mile long vistas to photograph and observe weather occurring from a distance. I followed this and it’s sister storms moving along the frontal boundary moving through our area. I couldn’t have asked for a better view of this barking dog.
As I type this, the wind blew well over 60 mph last night. Rained sideways for 20 minutes. It said .3 inch but this is suspect lol. I was up photographing the storm come up but got back to shelter before that one came through. I have yet to download the images from that event.
Taken after sunset, the LOW angle long wavelength sunlight is still reaching the curved boundary under that reflective bumpy “projector screen”. The landscape is in total shadow from a storm low on the horizon over my shoulder at sunset. This storm is around 100 mile across and called a “Mesocylone”. I’m parked under the huge trailing apron of it. While not terribly common, Mammatus clouds are often very dramatic particularly with just the right light…📷 An affiliation with storms that produce extreme weather has been noted over the years. Hail isn’t usually far away with these olympic athletes of cloud types.
This one easily spans 3 states in my part Wyoming/Montana with South Dakota about 80 miles east. We are not sure exactly what is going on in this kind of cloud morphology. I will tell you that cloud boundaries form where two different air masses meet. Like oil floating in water, the density interface gets all visually 3D on us. Localized micro currents of flow scours into the air mass below like ripples in water. I think the the boys at “Skunk Works” would call it turbulence. Most planes divert around these atom bomb energy storms for good reason. You don’t want to fly through one for sure.
The water and air interface is one where two states of matter mix. The relative density differing the two substances create that obvious boundary. Gravity is doing the sorting. Cloud/clear air boundaries are not that different. Ripples and moving air channels / flow channels both vertical and horizontal within these Mesocyclones are chaotically complex apparently lolol.
Brown Season twilight landscapes are always dark, some are more colorful than others. When the veil of clouds is heavy, the shade and hues become muted with the encroaching dusk. Unfettered light causes an entirely different result… here, browns are in full display. I spend a lot of time working twilight skies/landscapes and find them challenging to reproduce accurately. It would be very easy to turn up the sky colors but I’m trying really hard to be a photorealist. This is as close as I can get this to how I experienced the scene. I find that an infinite spectrum of variable twilight exists and are mostly “capturable” with the right gear.
A majority of photographers wouldn’t finish this image I’m thinking. Having said that, I’m all about subtle tones and hues that escape view by most. The cool air of the twilight, the movement of game in the distance, the quickening of the light fleeing the scene is always breathtaking to me. Huge long landscapes (40 miles) make for an appropriate venue for this end of a day capture.. All creatures great and small getting ready for the night are all in their own world. Anticipating the washing away of the brown by spring rains to expose the green that is forthcoming. Seasons change, days come and go, but the animals seen to survive the hardships with an ever optimistic outlook toward the next day and the next meal.
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.
Siamese Fighting Fish in the Clouds for you Pareidolia “sufferers”. You know who you are lol?. The colorful flowing finned fish living in little pint sized fish bowls as most of us have had one time or the other. Most of you don’t know my wife and I owned the only pet shop in a good sized college town for 6 years… I’ve had fish since I was 12 years old non stop. I still run an aquaponic greenhouse with several hundred pounds of live Tilapia with 128 square feet of vegetables growing off of it lol. In other words, I have fish branded into my brain lol. I also detect several uses in mirroring this image around the 1/2 face in the lower clouds.
Sunsets in the backcountry fall into so many varieties I have to develop a way to catalogue them. The high white clouds are in unfiltered sunlight passing through very little atmosphere. The lower clouds are bathed in light that has traveled many miles through surface air. That filled with particulates and moisture. Only the longest red wavelengths at the base make it through the longest path through the thickest air. This is a pure red, yellow green, blue, darker blue twilight gradient. The sun is still up in this capture. The sun is highly obscured . It might as well be twilight lol.
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.
Some of the last snow from the winter of 2020 in mid-April. We are snow free as I post this two weeks later on March 8th, 2020.
I was driving the high ridge (Ridge1) heading back to my homestead. I had been driving parallel ridges watching this wonderful veiled sunset. As I crested the hill, I saw this scene…. stopped…. Click…. got it… then moving on to the next spot…
Two ways these form:. 1: light passing through suspended atmospheric plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. 2: Alternately, refraction from light passing through freezing moist air at medium levels in clouds. Those “mock suns’ are may form at anytime of year but obviously the cold months are best. The colors usually go from red closest to the sun outward with the standard rainbow sequence. This was pretty bright.
A tad of Photographic musing:
Priority (working on Manual) Your lenses will differ…. . Use High F-stop as your priority. That’s a deep focal field your seeing. (high f stop numbers mean a deep field of focus for you to use but at the cost of a lot less light going into the camera). Your only able to gather light through the now pin hole in the lens’s aperture). But all this lets you get the detail in the grass in the front AND have the sky in focus. Google f-stop and learn what it means. Focusing up close AND far with a removable lens camera takes higher F-stop.
Mammatus clouds tend to indicate that there’s a thunderstorm about. Certainly linked with heavy precipitation some where, mammatus are very impressive at times… Particularly when back lit by the sunset (slit) over my shoulder. That precipitation doesn’t always make it down to the surface before evaporating or sublimating. (Virga). Other times it dumps several inches…
The difficulty of getting enough warm air aloft means that a thunderstorm has to be rather strong before it can form huge mammatus. Often read as a harbinger of strong oncoming storms. I find they are usually a sign of one that has just passed. Aviators taught cumulonimbus cloud avoidance live longer. Particularly with Mammatus about. Notoriously, associated with severe weather, mammatus certainly mark turbulance.
While they look impressive, they have very little impact on life at the surface in my travels. . Mammatus are merely the messengers of their bigger, tougher clouds about the area. Having one pass over RIGHT as the sun passed under the cloud deck to the west
As mammatus clouds don’t usually do damage tohumans directly. They can occur around a very hazardous environment however. Scientists really don’t know much about them. While they’re not that uncommon, it’s difficult to get scientific data back about exactly what’s going on under the thunderstorm’s anvil. They certainly reflect a density change between the air below and the cloud itself. Puffy surfaces like that would indicate micro circular flow environment of trought troughs. It’s a 3D thing going on up there. Very complex as I visualize what is ongoing under there.
Meanwhile, their striking appearance and relative rarity make them good targets for conspiracy theorists. Some believe that they’re the result of weather modification programs. As most conspiracy theories, they don’t hold much water…. or maybe there is some “water” up there lolol I consider this one of the best capture of the species of cloud that I have done to date. Next summer is a whole new set of sky shows.
That HUGE butte (called “W” butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark. Seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. The fore ground is in Wyoming. That mile wide Butte (in Montana) is at least 15 miles BEHIND that 400 foot tall old growth treed ridge. That ridge is 15 miles from where I’m standing for this capture. You can see the communications towers that are up there. They are 1 foot wide over the 150000 feet to those towers. I love how 1200 mm telephotos CRUSH perspective. Taken golden hour as the sun was setting shortly over my shoulder. Long Shadows and Long lenses… be still my heart…❤️
So about 30 miles distant from my camera stands the epicenter of what was at one time one of the largest ranches in the Country. That ranch named the “W” Butte Ranch, was said you couldn’t see the end of the ranch from the top of that butte. I suspect that is not true. My ground was never part of that ranch to my knowledge. I’ve only seen/have deeds back to 1906 though. I’m not sure before that, pretty sure gov’t had it.
That butte is capped by the Fox Hill Sandstone. That formation was derived from the Beach Sand the Dinosaurs were sunning themselves on. I expect to find those little umbrellas in frosty mixed drinks as fossils there. I see a host of sun chairs and umbrellas on that beach. Ocean sediments are on the surface east of there. Terrestrial sediments to the west of that butte. All Cretaceous in age. All three environments (sea, beach, and land) occured coterminously. Those are just lateral environments as we have today. They did migrate with time and have a complex relationship underground based on the gradual movement of the land based (terrestrial sediments) laterally. The google word for this is “Faces Geology”. It’s a complex concept. Have fun with that.
The intersection of Parks Rd and Trail Creek about 4 miles south of the Montana / Wyoming border is in the distance. I’m about a mile from that crossroads for this shot. The Pronghorn as a matter of principle decided to cross in front of me. They do this to show off. I was pursuing the rainbow the road was leading to. Of course rainbows are tough to catch up to since they move as you move lolol. BUT I find that there are rainbows images and then there are rainbow IMAGES.
Gravel Wyotana backcountry roads are always exciting in what you will come across. I had stopped to to capture the rainbow lining up with the road of course. I saw this Pronghorn, anticipated her path and waited patiently as she took her sweet time wandering across. There is a HUGE network of gravel backcountry roads in this country. The closest asphalt road to that intersection is about 9 miles to the right (looking south east here). The setting sun was REALLY low on the horizon for this capture as I initially working the sunset of course. I randomly run into animal encounters regularly in this country. More pronghorn per square mile than people here.
There is no hurrying mother nature or for that fact, mother Pronghorn (pregnant this time of year of course). Besides the fat belly, you can tell Pronghorn sex by looking for a black cheek patch which this gal doesn’t have. The males have a big black splotch under their ears / behind their eyes.
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.
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.