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Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

Biggest Sun Pillar Ever
Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

Sun pillars are shafts of light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon. This is BY FAR the tallest pillar I’ve ever seen.

I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere. A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is REALLY big. This is close to a 24mm image which is about 1/2 again the angle than your normal vision at 55mm.

The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. Big oriented plates of ice at a high angle were required for this particular phenomena. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates that fall the same way due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read that 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. I bet this is 40 degrees tall if not 45 (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).

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

Title: Biggest Sun Pillar Ever

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Rose Bells Pasque Flower

Rose Bells Pasque Flower
Rose Bells Pasque Flower

Rose Bells Pasque Flower during sunset.(Geum triflorum) I believe. Everyone needs some purple in their live once a week.

These late spring/early summer blooms are only found in deep woods on eastern forested slopes. It’s harder to find them along the edge of these groves of trees. There is no other way to wait until the late afternoon and take advantage of the lowest sun to highlight it’s fuzz. These are not very large flowers being about 6 inches total in height. Just above the spring clumps of grass under the thick blanket of pines.

It’s easy to miss them as they are not found in quantity but usually ones and twos. Of course you have to go belly down to get this angle, be on a steep hillside, wait for Alpenglow to start. Then there is the camera settings lolol. Looking into a bright glare with a camera is it’s own little world of adjustments. I am very fond of using cellulose filters as above to handle the excess glare. I’ll use transmitted light to achieve the exposure. This might as well be an x-ray of this bloom as its so bright and the flower so delicate. They remind me of fuzzy tissue paper. They are quite soft.

This flower is not to be confused with Prairie Smoke which has long purple tendrils. Pasque Sun Filter. The plant is indeed darker purple without all that transmitted light flowing through the petals. The net effect is to lighten the actual flower color.
The Blurry area behind my in focus field is called “Bokeh”. You should google this word if you don’t know it already. (Assignment). There should be a test later.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Rose Bells Pasque Flower

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Lone Tree on Veiled Sun

Lone Tree on Veiled Sun
Lone Tree on Veiled Sun

Lone Tree on Veiled Sun. When I get a heavily veiled sun, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out in this capture. The sun is a little further behind.

Photographic Musings:

The clouds were very thick and obscuring with the sun blinking in and out from behind the veil. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. I work the “Shadow” line by driving it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”.

There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture. A fully lit sun behind this tree is a common occurrence but without neutral density glass filters in front of the camera, even these Sony Super Cameras , this would be impossible. The tree limbs would be totally washed out. I never use glass filters or even do I use a pretty much standard UV haze filter. I find they get in the way of the image more than “fixing ” what they do. A UV filter does protect your lens glass from scratches though and is probably worth it for what you would do mostly. I point cameras at the sun a lot and glass infront of the lens has been an issue in the past for me. Just saying….

Disclaimer:

Don’t point a DSLR camera into the sun. It can blind you if you look into the eyepiece and it will probably burn a spot in your digital image chip in the camera. I use a full frame mirrorless Sony Alpha 7R 2’s ,3’s and 4’s which I routinely point at the sun. Resultant… no apparent damage to the cameras over several years of this.

If your buying gear soon….

Mirrorless Cameras: I’m not blind now because I look through the a Mirrorless cameras eyepiece which has a video screen behind the glass so no direct path of light to blind you. Newer mirrorless cameras do this video thing. Older Designed DSLR’s don’t show you your image until AFTER YOU CLICK. Mirrorless Cameras show you your settings changes live on screen and you get what you see when you click not after. If your shopping for cameras, I would tell you to buy mirrorless. Particularly if you work outside with cameras. Studio it’s not critical either way.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Lone Tree on Veiled Sun

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Junior Stove Door

Junior Stove Door
Junior Stove Door

True Story about the Junior Wood Stove Door:

Found out near by a 1930’s Remote Backcountry Homestead located on my place. This cast iron Junior Stove Door (wood probably as coal is a bit south and wasn’t free). The 1920’s issue “Junior” was found in an over bank “trash” dump from that old Homestead which inevitably is over the lip of a nearby gully. The original stove probably rusted out or cracked from overheating but this door survived. Nothing but steel and glass out there as MOST of the wood from that place has rotted over the 80 intervening years but there are nails and pitfalls to watch out for. Dangerous place to walk about I think.

The Homestead was abandoned after the father died of an acute appendix. He was unable to get out to medical help due to winter in the 1930’s. I met one local Women (a daughter of that man) that grew up out there in the Late 1920’s and early 30’s. Little House on the Prairie was a castle compared to this log structure these guys built. The woman fed this stove door more than a few times as an adolescent, bare footed in the summer, dirt floor in the kitchen with a goat hanging inside the door. (I’ve seen the photo and have a copy but don’t own it, the family does). I’m sure this Junior Stove Door was just inside the log cabin door. Piles of wood waiting their turn for the flame.

Background in the Back Country:

This I met that daughter as a “getting” elderly woman of then in her 80’s. She several times brought her extended family out to the site to see humble beginnings. I managed to navigate them out there (way out there lol).


The problem with going there were the many problems for big SUV’s. . Getting a group of 15 people that far in to sage and past a few deep gullies is always an interesting task for the new off road drivers of their ‘SUV” that has never been “off pavement”. Going off gravel, off two tracks through the open prairie is always fun to initiate new drivers lolol.

Someone close to her contacted me when she was in Hospice. We made a bouquet and tray with artifacts from the homestead she grew up on. A ford emblem from a ford truck, a bit of running board made the “plaque portion. Wildflowers decorated the 1930’s patina’d mason jar included on the small “tray”. I wasn’t there when she got it. 😔 That little family in the Borderlands of Wyoming/Montana lives on as one of it’s matriarchs closes her circle of life. There are a LOT of stories like that but have been lost in the shadows of time.

2×3 landscape aspect Make a cool wall hanger for someone named Junior lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

True Story about the Junior Wood Stove Door.