Driving the backcountry I see many images but not all of them are straight forward just point and click lol. Without the Smoke Pall totally filtering all but the brightest longest wavelength colors. The sun was ALMOST naked eye viewing here which made the grass highlight possible. Halo’s in the grass around the sun are hard to catch when they are not BLOWN out by overexposure.
Normally the glaring intensity of the setting sun will over power the cameras sensor leaving hard colored edges around the sun, unlike this smooth gradient/transition. I really like smooth gradients in my images, if you see steps in my color ramps, either it was really like that or I screwed up something lol.
The color is true to the sky I was looking at through the camera. Most of the sky was smoke grey. This is a very small area of the sky through this telephoto lens. This image covers an area the size of a postage stamp at arms length. This was hundreds of yards away.
The thickness of the smoke of late has been troublesome. Animals and Humans alike suffer from the choking irritant. As I type this, the residents of Jordan Montana can return to their home. One of many fires ongoing in the area was ready to run over the town. The 50 mph winds and low humidities made for fire storm grassland conditions. One of the few redeeming results of a hot forest or grass fire is the color in the sky down wind. I’ve seen some smoke/light phenomena this week I’ve never experienced before.
Occasionally, when the ‘seeing’ is good, I pull out my big gun optics pointing them toward the Jovian Moon system. There are many more moons around Jupiter than are on this image. These four however are the easy ones. The little 12 inch diameter optic I used for glass here is not up to the task unless I do much longer tracking time exposures. A 12 inch light gathering ability makes it faster than catching the same image with a smaller aperture. I have also found that higher resolutions cameras give you higher resolution images lol. This is an effective 4800mm focal length.
The year was 1609 and a fellow by the name of Galileo Galilei pointed a primitive Duch made gadget up at the massive Planet. Looking through the pieces of glass mounted like a skeletonized tube. Galileo was important in the early development of the telescope as he taught himself to grind glass to build his own instruments. He notices that 4 “stars” were circling Jupiter. Humm. That single observation set in motion the Brilliant mathematical mind that man possessed. He was obsessed with the new telescope working tirelessly to improve the state of the art. In 1609, he was observing an 20X view that the human eye could achieve. That is similar to a 24 power rifle scope. I can’t imaging observing this with less than a 1200 mm focal length and a 6 or so inch aperture. Let alone a rifle scope. Better than naked eye though in use before the improvements by Galilei lol.
The Blue Sky of up high fame is positionally just right to be in relatively unfiltered light. All the clouds below are SATURATED with the reddish / brown color I call “Burnt Umber”. A filtered window to the sun off frame to the left let in enough light to reflect off “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill who appropriately was showing off his shiny surfaces. A matter of pride in a windmill. His older brother “Re Pete” lives about 3 miles further into the backcountry. Not as shiny, the 80 year old wind engine is. It was DEAD CALM or I would have captured that sail a spinning.
This night’s air quality wasn’t as bad as some lately. The cloud deck was a good projector screen for the smoke filtered light that night. This is of course a close / far perspective with the sky being the far part. Both in focus. Easy with a cell phone, tough with a manual camera. I was moving along the trail by this veritable legend in his own mind wind engine. I have no control over his actions but I saw the glint(s) off the side, stopped, backed up and composed the shot. Click. He was so becalmed, I think it was sort of a windmill nap. So I finally snuck up on “Sneaky Pete”… It has taken years….. Proof there are periods of no wind up here ……
This flower somehow survived the very early frost we had last week (as this posts). It was on the highest point of the highest remaining flower (not too many left). Between the hail storm in July beating up every flowing plant with a view straight up got destroyed. At a minimum it bruised or at least broke most of the plant up. Just like I have 5 apples on a tree that normally would yield several bushels, I have a few flowers about. The suspicion is that this is high value real estate. All sorts of creatures were around this small bed in a sheltered area getting their fill with the pollen. Bees, Flies, Wasps bugs of all kinds were visiting this island in the middle of a hailed upon desert. The Mantis was staking it’s claim.
I’m sorry to say the cold probably got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. Particularly grasshoppers. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have found one in the ranches Walipini Greenhouse already. It’s our 6th generation of them down there.
I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂 I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was all in for good focus as well as a slower subject lol.
Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. They might see themselves in a mirror. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds.
Done without a neutral density filter in front of the camera. Almost a silly unlikely capture. It is a rare image from my equipment that has very few issues with the silhouette against the sun. The smoke in the atmosphere obviously has some attenuating aspect on the amount of light passing through. Normally the camera is on the edge of the envelope doing this. All the normally insurmountable technical issues were overcome to get this one.
The big lemon colored sun is an easy capture in and of itself. Getting something terrestrial in front of it without large red rims around objects (diffraction artifacts). Washing them out is typical. I have pointed a camera at the naked sun with trees in front a few times (thousands) before and have never gotten this quality out of the composition. Sharpest edges ever in this type of composition lol. Again, only a smoke attenuated sun will do when you need a celestial object for a “sitting”. Of course I lost 1/2 of the light by letting it set 1/2 way lolol. High fstop (the softness) for deep focus, fast shutter in the 1/6000th range, LOW ISO in the 100 range and a lot of atmospheric filtering.
I’m always trying to work sunset at less than f22 if possible. I suspect this is f60 ish. A tiny pin hole in the aperture. It’s a 1200 mm lens with a very high resolution camera (170 meg raw+ .jpg) which allows me to come up this close without much of a crop. There is NO substitute for high resolution and high dynamic range in a camera.
These close / far perspectives are always a challenge to me. I have to put myself into a mouses mind and imagine the sheer size of human machinations. This Antique steel wheel has been standing here for many decades. It overlooks a huge vista all around it. Ridge top locations allow for such luxuries. It pays for it’s view with the extreme exposure to the elements. The metal parts of this old farm machinery will be here hundreds of years. That is assuming it isn’t recycled in some dystopian future society.
This fairly “clear of smoke” sunset has been a member of a rare population of late. As I type this Massive fires are burning along the west coast. I can only hope that wet or snowy weather comes quickly to the west this year. It’s likely the only thing that will stop those fires. 125 years of not enough controlled burns apparently has found the dead fall fuel load too high in many locations. I’m glad to see the relatively smoke free skies like tonight. I of course was taking a few photos of the setting sun.
The 22nd. of September (Equinox) is coming in a few days from this post. I will be working east / west perspectives with the sun aligning up with all sorts of things. Twice a year I get to do that. Once this month I get pretty clear skies.
Best wishes to all the folks under threat from the fires.
Here the BigHorn Mountains are surrounded by an odd color to cover a landscape. It was really that color lol. I saw this developing the other night. I’ve been on a mission to catch the orange light behind the BigHorn Mountains. I haven’t seen a weather window open to the BigHorns for over a month. Smoke, haze, soot and other forest fire products were blocking the view. The sun was hiding far to the right off frame. This was a night when the side shows were WAY more photogenic that the glare of the sun. The odd lighting resultant from the filtering of the light by the smoke.
The 130 miles distant 13,000 foot high mountain range was shrouded in this Orange (ish) colorcast. It was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape. As the sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds, the scene disappeared. Too dark to capture.
I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The distant range is always playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have very few Long Distance captures from this month on the ranch. Those few will slowly work their way into my work flow here. The black ridge at the in front of the BigHorns is 40 miles out from this high resolution camera.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.
I’d say these guys were traveling the neighborhood and found an oasis in this high near desert environment. I usually keep a game camera pointing at active (full) stock tanks. Some day I’m going to photograph a big raptor on this tank but not yet lolol. Mostly I get blurry animals at night but SOME (1 in maybe 100) day time image are pretty good.
Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is watching the commotion as he effectively photobombs this wildlife image. I have no control over his actions.
We keep four stock tanks running all year with a small by high pressure water jet into the tank. This circulates the water in a circle and tends to keep it open in the winter. I’ve not had one freeze up yet. About a gallon in 4 minutes… Pumping water for lifestock and wildlife consumption has been expensive over the decades I suspect. I haven’t crunched the numbers and really don’t want to know… With all the cattle our water pumping amounts to around 100 bucks a month worth of electricity. Fortunately that is right around what we get back from the utility company we feed with 18 big solar panels each month. More water use in the summer of course, less in the winter.
I figure without liquid water in the winter, most of the deer that winter here would move to lower (wetter) locations. The grackles are migratory so are grouping this time of year. They raid my barnyard when they get the urge as well. This tank is a busy winter tank. Lots of deer come to water here.
The Forest Fires to our west (this publishes 10 days after I wrote it), contribute many things to our environment. The clearing of the overgrowth in healthy ecosystems is certainly positive. When the fires become an issue is when poor conservation (at best) combines with drought to set up a tinderbox. That becomes a negative. Then we build our houses in the trees. A failure to have a firebreak in your landscape is what burns structures. If you live in a fire area, you have to build for a fire area.
The dry year has this lake about as low as it gets. I have seen it about a foot lower but it’s artesian source replenishes it about as fast as evaporation. Normally it is topped off by a storm or two causing surface run off over a few thousand acres. It can get very full very fast. I have a post I placing a game camera a foot above the spill ways lips elevation. Those images will occur late next spring. I hope to have ducks next to the game trail cameras lol.
As a composition: I placed the sun behind the tree for two reasons. One the thing was still too bright to do this properly. It’s hard to get those details in the shadows with a super bright sun glaring at you. Two the water wouldn’t reflect the exposed sun…wrong angle lolol. Give it a few weeks and it will move far enough south (left frame) that it will reflect clear of the trees. Angles change over the year and to follow them is to give yourself possibilities with that photon capture box. Knowing when things align up lets you be there.
This storm passed over me about 30 minutes before. Those are my truck’s tracks looking back from whence I came. High up the hill from my current vantage point well of the ridge peak. Big views on that side of the hill but a better perspective down the red dirt road up one of the better sledding hills in the winter you’ve ever seen. Maybe 20 cars a day drive this during the summer. Just a few oil well service trucks and ranchers travel this. Trips to town are 70 miles to Gillette Wyoming or 90 miles to Belle Fourch South Dakota. This is a pretty remote spot in Wyotana. It is only 10 miles to the nearest asphalt road here though. All down hill too, literally lol.
That was a deluge of a storm coming over where I was. I tried to avoid the storm but the course was unpredictable without cell signal with affiliated radar. I just need a doppler rig on the roof. Big Hail is NOTHING I want to run into. I’ve got enough damage on my truck from it. I try really hard to stay out of the weather but several storms went through the area and one was bound to run over me. It did. No damage and I got some really fine images from the event. I have about 1/2 an hour of cool phenomena related to a good hail storm that will work their way into my publishing timeline.
This is the Sun…not the Moon. During the forest fire smoke Month of August 2020, I had “SOME” opportunity to play with the subdued / occluded sun under otherwise clear skies. Of course the smoke moderated the intensity of the light. That REALLY helped with the technical issues of taking a blurred windmill against a still very bright object. It’s easier to do with lens filters on the camera (Neutral Density) but I don’t use anything in front of my lenses 99.9 percent of the time. This is raw in the camera stuff.
There is a lens artifact in the sail of the windmill pointing from the sun to towards the center of the spinning dish. I left it in the image as I liked it lol. Lens artifacts are a result of light bouncing around inside the lens. Usually a lot of light. I’ve fought them before being too intense glaring out the whole image. The subdued sun makes all this possible.
The lighting through this smoke pall reminds me seriously of the total eclipse a few years back. I watched that total eclipse in Douglas Wyoming. There was an odd shading at first followed by a progressive “dusky” feeling. Life under this pall beside the breathing issues, is very similar to that odd eclipselighting both in illumination value and overall feeling.
The Smoke images keep coming up to bat. I get up hours before sunrise as I don’t need a lot of sleep. I typically nap most days to catch up. It’s what you have to do photographically working both sunrise and sunset in the summer. So with all the smoke from western forest fires I was assured colorful horizon crossings. I still walk out a few times before I head out to check the sunrise lighting. The hail storm in July KILLED my sunrise camera which see’s the eastern horizon. I can’t see the horizon from my homestead. So it’s a lot of instinct on whether to go out for several hours or not. If I go out in the morning, I’m making use of what light is worthy of your time and mine.
So the smoke is a very effective light filter here letting in this peach flavored light during a cloud banded sunrise. I pay very close attention to the scene as I take it to reproduce it effectively. The landscape detail was recovered in the digital darkroom as as a matter or course, I expose only the highlights correctly. Usually that leaves a very dark or silhouette landscape. This halfie (rare for me) was such a good landscape ladder that I thought it warranted a little extra room. Thusly framed the composition accordingly. Most of my compositions are in the camera. Rarely do I crop to any significant degree in the digital darkroom.
There are more smokey sunrise images in my “to finish folder”. Perhaps a dozen I really like. The will slowly mingle into my workflow as I get to them.
I was tickled when I got this. I’ve been planting Game Trail Cameras on certain Posts up high topographically. I figured that sooner or later I’d get a raptor of somekind dropping by for a visit. Bingo lolol.
This Prairie Falcon is about crow sized. That constitutes a largish bird for the Falcons. They do have about a 3 foot wing span if that gives you any indication of their power. Falco mexicanus is it’s scientific name and weighs not quite 2 pound. That’s a pile of guided missile with beaks and claws. Love the cheek patches. I’m not sure what he was dancing to but I’ve heard the fence wire make music before.
The trick here is to place the camera to catch the bird in focus. The lighting and his timing were totally random of course. Once I place a camera, it is autonomous in it’s actions for the next 1/2 year or so. Most game cameras don’t focus well up close and personal. Nor am I typically forunately enough to capture the bird totally in frame AND in focus. There was only one frame of this animal.
ALL of the game trail camera image I’ve dealt with have major problems for me to deal with. Most issue are related to the way they process files and the fact that they are less than a 200 dollar automatic camera. For some reason they don’t produce the image quality of a five thousand dollar camera rig. This one came out amazing to me. Got REALLY lucky with the lighting.
It had just hailed about an inch of marble sized ice stones from the sky. Heavy rain accompanied the hail shafts. This is a remote meadow near the Montana / Wyoming border. A series of large storms moved through the area. It’s the heaviest rain I’ve personally been in all year. I’m sure it dumped 2 inches of water plus the hail. ALL the local stream were running which is a rare event. I don’t think this particular drenching under this Mesocyclone was particularly unusual but for the drenching. I’ve seen 4 inches and hour before and this one only gave us a couple of inches in the 1/2 hour it lasted.
So all this hail ice is laying covering the surface of the ground up the hill. The sun hits it, evaporation and sublimation (google the latter) occurs and a cloud of cold saturated air off the ice flows down hill like so much water. It ran in rivers from every hill to every adjacent low area in this valley. This is the fog lake resultant in a wide low pasture being fed by dozens of smaller fog rivulets. The low angle lighting adding to the frames unusual nature. Oh yeah, there’s a rainbow up there too lol.
Boy I wish I was that flexible. I can actually touch my toes standing but my neck isn’t quite this flexible I’m thinking. Bending sideways that much gives me the willies as I’ve had back surgery already. Somethings you just have to itch lolol.
This wondrous lighting scenario was during a very late day. This doe and her group were coming into our corral system to water up for the night. It’s a daily routine but I’m not usually nearby with a telephoto. I can’t tell you the number of things that happen right under my nose every day. There are so many happening going on up here at any one time. Deer about, Pronghorn about, Cattle about, Chickens, Ducks, Dogs and Cats. LOTS of various small animals and birds live in this habitat. But yet at the same time it’s all about being there with a camera at just the correct place in time and Space. Rule #1 of Photography: Have a camera with you.
The Whitetail deer are more gracile than the Mule deer. Their ears are smaller. There is NO black on their tail either. Mule deer have huge ears with a black tipped tail on the other end. Whitetail are a LOT smaller. This one is very well fed (not pregnant) late summer with a big fat belly to show for her effort. It’s going to be a very long winter (bad) if this year keeps on giving… Maybe that will kill the grasshoppers. 😜 Think “winter is coming” (classical reference).
Ranch Life is full of spur of the moment photo opportunities. Meanwhile down in the barnyard, after the chickens and ducks have had their fill of the grain I reluctantly give them. It was early smokey morning red light that day. The sun was fairly high just emerging from the smoke pall that morning..
I hate to feed yard birds too much so they will hunt bugs (their job). This image of course are the wildling beggars that come in from all over every morning to clean up the mess left behind by the domestics.
I have never caught 5 Meadowlarks all flying in the same frame. (I’ve tried). The “one” on the left is actually two. There are some Juvenile Red Wing Blackbirds about with one dead center flying. All mixed with adult Red Wings… It was a feast for the wild birds short on grain in this drought year plus water is 50 feet away. I understand why they show up here. My domestic birds have been fed here for 15 years every day. I suppose that sets up a series of expectation by local wildlife. Particularly that which can fly over our deer resistant fences.
The barnyard is fenced in well. We mostly keep predators out with low electric wires. Our cats go through it but they have lived here for years. They know the best places.
I really didn’t like going out into this. It’s nothing I haven’t been exposed to much worse fighting fires but…. That ridge is 40 miles out visible last night. The visibility this AM (7 days ago when this posts) was less than 3 miles. 10 times this bad. The sun literally set in just a few minutes as the pall ascended to cover it’s face.
This has been a very dry year west of here. As bad as it is up here, it’s worse over by Sheridan and surrounding areas. Of course we are not nearly as bad as the poster child of rough years… California. Gotta love 100 degrees and rolling brown outs. This image represents a Wyoming/Montana Brown out so to speak. The grass here now is considered “hour fuel”. Hour fuels are combustibles that can be soaking wet but within an hour will readily ignite. Red Flag warnings are wide spread through out the south west. They occasionally work their way up into this country too.
We had lightning later around midnight that day. Fortunately it rained well enough to keep any lightning strike from taking off. Of course struck trees can smolder for days…. I go up on ridges often this time of year. Looking for that tell tale smoke plume. I’m carrying 50 gallons of water on “Clever Girl” and a portable water filled back pack. It does a good job on small hot spots. IF you can knock something out quickly, it’s better than letting it get big I assure you lolol. I’m not a tough as I used to be though but I’m often looking. Being there is everything.
Good Morning… Right at the crack of dawn, all the colors of this land are popping. From the grey of the Bentonitic soil under a thin coating of grass in front. To the unique blue of the sage brush 50 yards out. Sage being one of the most important keys I use to match camera color values versus reality. I pay very close attention to the hues of the grass in a particular light. Getting colors as rich as this is a matter of timing. As the horizon falls away enough to expose the sun (we’re the ones that are spinning remember), the light was perfect. A reasonably balance of the rainbow was just starting to appear. I find in Twilight captures, there is perfect time for this. A few minutes on either side and the light is gone or not there yet.
Knowing when to leave a scene is a developed skill. I could click away at this sky but it’s going to wash out in seconds from the fully engaged glare of our sun. This is the time when I turn around to check out the back show in the skies over my shoulder here. This was a complex weather system involving some sporty weather the evening before. It’s usually a good bet the next morning after storms move though.
Sometimes it takes me a while to get to some of these backcountry locations I shoot mornings from. I can’t see the eastern horizon from my homestead so travel is always involved. Sunsets are way easier lol. I can work from my porch sometimes, driveway others lol. This was about a mile east but 400 feet higher than my driveway. The ridges here are all more or less parallel to one another in this upper drainage. Having said that we are at 4000 feet roughly which is LOW in Wyotana. The LOWEST spot in Wyoming is 3099 feet not far from here. The LOWEST topography in Montana is 1820 feet. 🤔
There are many landmarks on the moon. Each has it’s own exotic name. Sometimes named after historic figures, others Latin. The Huge Tycho Crater with it’s star field of ejecta radiating outward. It’s a bright part of the moon on the left . That left would be east in our sky and west on the moon……… 🤔 It is named after Tycho Brahe. ……. How in the Heck does one get the most prominate crater on the moon’s face officially named after you? 😜
This is a setting moon. Tycho Crater is on the left side Tycho would be on the south end of the moon (our south too) if it were a rising moon. It’s not the moon rotating at night, it’s us. 🤔 👀
Turns out Tycho was an interesting guy worth of the research as I side track here………. He was a Danish “Nobelman” which means he was connected certainly lol. More important to science were his contributions at the infancy of optics looking at Astronomy (Up Close and Personal). Known as an Astrologer, he made EXTENSIVE astronomical observations. He set the idea that the moon orbits the earth in motion. He had recognized the planets orbited the sun. Sort of got wrong the part about the sun orbiting the earth.
Notably, he was endowed with a silver nose. So goes the story. Lost the tip in a sword fight. Scientists were WAY more interesting back then lolol. Dangerous world around 1600 AD. No lab coats I suspect. No safety Glasses no regulations, no warning labels saying “caution: coffee might be hot”. He was an “alchemist as well. Let’s mix this with that and see what happens… Died 1601 at the age of 55…. Who knows what he got into lolol.
You can just see some sculpting on the moons edges demonstrating just a little atmospheric distortion that night. Taken using terrestrial glass… 1200mm.
Location: Somewhat west (on earth) above the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
When looking at a bright Crimson Sunset, one has to take it in perspective. Look how large the sun is relative to how you normally see it. This is zoomed WAY into just a little small area of the sky. Which by the way, is a big area of sky if you were out there under it lolol. So perspective is important to understanding these images. Hold your thumb out at an arms length toward the horizon. Your thumb would cover this entire frame. Postage stamp sized at arm’s length.
Skies banded are best. Or something close to best. I’m all about color, cloud and landscape gradients. I chase them incessantly. Both in the real world and in my dreams. The perfect banded sunset would be a bucket list item. The term perfect of course is up for debate.
You couldn’t look at this for more than a glance. The mirrorless cameras looks well into the bright Not as well into the dark without a time exposure. I think the same is true of the human mind.🤔
Our eyes however aren’t good at the really dark or really bright either. They are generalists sensors we use to deal with most of the events in our world. Apparently there was no survival benefit in our developmental past to look directly at the sun. This is why we invented hats with brims and sunglasses. Now why we don’t have night vision like canids or feline is a good question. In a weapons race, humans gave up an edge there to be functional generalists. 📷
Those of us that see images in clouds might pay attention to this wonderful western Sunset. A lamb is passing under the “Eye of Sauron” sunset. Wyotana (both states are in the photo) has some very impressive sky shows. I work over 400 of them a year and have for several years now. Having seen many of them gives me an interesting perspective that few having on terminator crossings. (Look it up on Google if you don’t know).
The terminator moves over us at 1000 mph twice per day. (The world is 24,960 miles in circumference) It takes 24 hours for one full rotation. That’s roughly 1000 mph that we are traveling in a fairly tight circle of 6917 miles in diameter. Traveling so fast in a circle it’s amazing we don’t fly off this big ball. There has to be SOME outward force eh? lolol.
This is a view west across the Little Powder River Valley from up on the west side of the Pass to Rockypoint Wyoming on Trail Creek Road. It’s 40 miles to the mountain ridges in the distance. There is a lot to be said for gaining elevation. This is about 10 miles from my homestead and roughly 3 miles south of Montana where I stand.
It’s amazing how the sky at the top can still be blue with the alpenglow popping out in the lower atmosphere. The light bathing those high clouds is still blue and unfiltered by the low/thick atmosphere. IT’s a classic Rule of thirds color ladder too lol. Laid out like a tic tac toe game. Just super-impose the game over the image to see what I mean. 📸
Best seen full screen as the bolt is extensive. The charge goes from the two points where the difference in electrical potential charge is greatest. Sometimes that is ground to cloud. Sometimes cloud to ground. The last possibility is cloud to cloud. This of course is the latter. When I think of lighting, it’s cloud to ground but I see many of each type in the limited storm chasing I do. I way prefer cloud to cloud from a safety standpoint lol. Hopefully there isn’t cloud to Raptor…..
I tend to see these cattle in this hollow when storms come through as I watch storms from this hill top often. The road up there isn’t a mud problem as others are. The type of soil is better drained sandy material. I don’t like to drive on ground that will rut and work rain storms lol. Those cows though… I think there is some instinct that says clear out of the rest of the square mile pasture and congregate there during a storm. I’m not sure of the instinct that drives them here. I’m not even sure of the instinct that drives me here lolol.
So lightning heats up the air to around 50,000 degrees F. That’s about 5 times the temperature of the surface of the sun. When the differences in charges between the clouds in this case overcame the insulative ability of the air, a flash happens. Quickly… Like the close to the speed of light fast.
I had the high ground AND the sun at my back. I was almost invisible to the actors in this play. One was off frame left. Simultaneously to this capture, a Red Fox was walking through the grass maybe 50 feet away from this Deer fawn. I’m thinking the branch it had in it’s mouth was a peace offering. Perhaps it was a little extra camo to stay hidden. The Fawn was WAY more interested in the Fox than the Fox was of him. Having said that, I’ve never seen a deer fawn standing rock still with a branch in it’s jaws for a few minutes. He was carrying it around like a trophy. He never dropped it as long as I watched him.
I had just a very small window through vegetation to capture this. I watched this little guy for maybe a few minutes before his twin popped out for a second. Then both disappeared into the thicket to the right. The fox was no where to be seen by then. I was working back and forth between them photographing each but have no frame with both. I was working a long lens not a wide lens at the time and this happened very quickly.
So a bucket list item has been recorded. A Red Fox Kit nosing a spotted fawn deer in this light. Now that would be a photo eh? 📷
The moon set was still 10 minutes away. As the celestial clock’s gears spin, the earths horizon rises to hide the moon earlier by the clouds. The low atmospheric moisture made the moon to go dimmer till it vanishes into the mist within a few more frames after this one. IT became so hard to see, I gave up working this amazing scene. I am really into that stack of hay bales a mile out on that first far ridge.👁
The Parks Ranch is a historic ranch here in Wyotana which is managed by an association of cattlemen/ranchers in this region. These old buildings are still used structures . But just a small part of a much larger locally owned group of ranchs. Cattle are routinely and actively worked in these corrals. Mostly vaccinations and medical needs as well. You have to run “everybody” through the corral system to give them wormer, a fly dip and some meds. No antibiotics of course. Just required by the gov’t various anti-disease shots. A family lives and works on the ranch as it is an active good sized cattle operation. Genuine cowboys / cowgirls are working down there. Good hands all.
I’ve fought fires on this ground before but a bit further up the ridge. Kept a small ridge of trees from being destroyed with my truck parked pushing a hose all by my little self. I’m not doing that much these days. Younger men get to pull hoses. I drive lolol. It is beautiful country with artesian springs around the original Parks Ranch. Those lakes named after the Parks Girls I understand.
The convoluted bedding of the Hell Creek Formation Sandstone bedding in the foreground is a long way from the moon. The same moon was peering down over it’s deposition here on the Cretaceous piedmont existing 66 million years ago. Similar to a tropical North Carolina with Mountains to our west Paleo-geographically BEFORE the Bighorn Uplift. Those mountains were eroded away prior to the Larimide Orogeny Mountain Building episode. Those mountains all turned to sand grains I stand on. That moon back then was a little closer and bigger however. Dinosaurs looked up and watched it loom bigger over head (for another post). Our ranch is covered by this Formation at the surface. A known dinosaur bone deposit is about 1/2 mile distant from this spot.
Paleontological Musings: A series of MAJOR Rivers flowed around here in the Late Cretaceous. Some certainly as big as the Missouri River swept back and forth across the landscape. Leaving behind sand but snaking back and forth meandering on a surface it can’t cut down into. Shuffling and reshuffling the sands. Several times a fossil dinosaur tooth were excavated. Only to be redeposited dozens of times. Over the 3 million years this particular sand conveyor belt sedimentary system survived. Leaving about 700 feet of sands. This is literally sandstone country. We have more sand that most public beaches lol.
Upon the Ancient river dropping it’s load. When something else heavy covered it. Sediments flow like plastic. Pushed around underground like silly putty under your boot and a hard place. We get all sorts of various sandstone creations by mother nature occur in this country. Hydraulically reworked soft sediment deformation is a common occurrence. Boulders are left behind. The softer sands around them are blown or washed away. Those boulders were hardened. Cementing minerals in ground water responsible. That passing through the sands. The boulders cemented obviously better/harder than the sand that blew away exposing them. These sands moving down river to the “sink” filled up the Cretaceous Interior Seaway over time. Then the asteroid slammed into Mexico……..
I only get to play with a low full moon with the sun still up one or two times a month assuming the weather cooperates. Here the sun had just been obscured by a low cloud bank as it was setting. Low light makes this close/far perspective much more difficult to obtain. Of course the really hard part here is getting something like this close chunk of ancient river bed in focus. In focus at “infinity” along with the moon in the background that looks very large rising over this ridgeline. I’m shooting at least 400 yards away ( almost 1/4 mile) from that pile of rocks. Distance is your friend when attempting this type of composition. 📸
When a CatBird Decides your too close to it’s nesting area, it will fuss at you. Bold as can be, it came just outside this 1200mm telephoto which in this case is acting as a macro at about 15 feet. Most telephotos have a pretty good macro use at their closest focal distance. If you haven’t tried the absolute minimum focal distance each lens has, I suggest it’s a good thing to know. These guys have very long eyelashes but it’s impossible to see in this shot.
They really take offense to cats even if they are sleeping and generally abusively bug them. I suspect the cats will figure out it’s easier to sleep elsewhere with this brusk ‘mew” call the mimic thrush generates. Often too, maybe every 3 or 4 seconds. Constant and it will move around obviously not afraid of the cats. It is essentially harassing the expert bird hunters trying to sleep. I wouldn’t want one of these grumpy ranch cats coming at me lolol.
I don’t know how long it will be nesting here ( the sexes are impossible to tell by shape or plumage). I’ll keep working the little 8 inch tall fellow right around my front deck/main entrance to my homestead. Usually when I’m coming back from working photographically the sunrise. Parked only to find it there, trying to annoy me to leave I’m thinking.
During those 2 days a month that I get to have both the full Moon with the Sun coterminously in the sky, I “work” them photographically fairly hard. My operational tempo on nights like this is intense really. I have a rough map in my head where I want to go sometimes but making to where I need to be and when are two different things lol.
Here I was about 5 minutes late. I spent too much time at the last location. Knowing WHEN to leave a site and move on is paramount to productive backcountry photography. Conditions are fleeting, the sun was setting, the moon was climbing in the sky. I love this lone tree on this remote ridge. It has wonderful views (about 180 miles horizon to horizon from it’s ridge). Such dendritic shapes lend themselves to light filtering work. I suppose I’ll get a bill with model rates charged plus the overtime for the wait. Never keep your model waiting for you. 😜
When I get a Full moon rising at the horizon, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. This is a sub-hobby with my larger professions of photography. Toward that end…. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). This particular old soldier up high on a ridge has faced the worst wind/weather this high country can throw at it. It is a true old soldier. The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out from the parallel ridge is was working in the dark for this capture. The moon is a “little” further behind the ridge.👀
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.
It takes a drive “up the backcountry ridge” for a view of the western sky. After the sun has set. I see scenes like this every other day up here sans overcast skies. I find myself so used to the lighting I’m exposed to, overlooking a beautiful image that needs to be finished is a real thing. Scrolling through hundreds of captures after working any one particular sunrise or sunset timeline is a tough job. I usually under-expose everything so sometimes seeing it raw out of the camera is difficult. That mountain/ the far ridge is 50 miles distance. There are no yard lights visible over that distance. This is big empty country.
Photographic Musings: No over-exposure allowed. Only expose the highlights correctly. I adjust the image’s dark area back to reality later. Having found that over exposing twilight skies JUST to get some landscape detail is just improper. The best way is to capture a proper twilight sky without blowing out fine/intricate details. Some clouds are smooth, others have amazing patterns. THe detail lost in an overexposure is gone. Same thing happens when a beginning artist turns up the volume on color saturation or intensity. IT blows out the detail. There is a HUGE amount of detail in this properly exposed alpenglow colorcast sky.
Without the digital dark room, you would have a just black silhouette on the bottom. Here you have two ridges clearly visible with some detail present. If your purist and don’t like “changing” what came out of the camera, your ignoring the fact the camera by itself can’t capture the real scene. My eyes could clearly see the ridges in the distance. I had to coax it out of the digital file though. Photorealism. There wasn’t a silhouette there to my eyes. I produce images as I experienced them.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur ranch, Wyoming / Just a Beautiful Twilight
There are lots of characters (years long narratives) around this ranch. Here is a continuing theme… 😀
I’ve seen “Sneaky Pete” the photobombing windmill with cold feet before but I suspect it feels like hot coals. Actually I’ve observed this behavior by him before with Sneaky jumping over the solar disc with the intent to trap him. (I have no control over his action). Sneaky learns pretty slowly. After all he is a windmill.
The sun of course has been around a LOOOOONG time and is a observer of all things. Sometimes the activities of humans and their machinations amuse it. Other times like this, not so much. Of course being wise in all things, he just slipped out the bottom as the horizon rose behind Sneaky. (Back to my normal prograamming).
Blurred Windmill with a Bright sun…….. F36, 1/15th sec, ISO 100 with a 200mm focal length. Two opposing settings. High fstop for the light reduction PLUS the deeper focal field for the close/far perspective. LOOOONG shutter at 1/15th. You have to at least rest a 200-400mm lens on something to hold it still at 1/15 and that is hard. The long shutter allows the blur. A tripod is better. Your ISO is your final setting (camera sensitivity). Just adjust it until you can get the exposure you want. This is a razor edge/ paper cut edge of the envelope kind of capture. I had nothing left in the camera I could do to eliminate more light and still blur the windmill.