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
“Sneaky Pete” the Windmill has positioned himself dead center of this BIG twilight borderlands twilight sky show. Habitual Photobombers like Sneaky are incouragible. I have no control over their actions. I never know for sure how a twilight show is going to turn out. Overcast skies tend to be the best shows but there has to be a window from the sun to the under deck of the cloud layers. No window due to clouds blocking light equals no color. The reds and oranges you see here are the result of only those long wavelengths making it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Smoke or moisture in the air can increase the effect. I’ve seen these skies so red that the color cast from the sky makes the snow purple. I have several photographic timelines of even more intense skies. This one ranks right up there with the some of the best full coverage skies.
Don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…. 👀 WOW, I see a lot of lit up skies. This was a good one…A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The skies gradient from yellow to red in amazing to experience live thusly stealing my total attention. Taken by a 60mm lens, this give the appearance of “SLIGHTLY” zoomed in.
This is landscape close/far perspective version of a similar image I have in portrait image aspect. It was taken at a different place in the timeline. These skies morph by the minute. I call this backcountry ridge “Sunset Ridge” for it’s awe inspiring views of the eastern horizon covering the Big Skies of BOTH Montana and Wyoming. There is even a little South AND North Dakota there in the lower Golden Alpenglow.
Created is a classic Alpenglow Gradient with a fully involved complex cloud deck. I watched this Saturday the 20th’s morning with 3PM Mountain time roughly being the actual solstice. That is when the sun was over directly head of the Tropic of Cancer at 23.5 degrees north Latitude. This location is for all intents and purposes exactly at 45 degrees North Latitude. This was the longest day of the year.
It was a beautiful morning. Left early mid-nautical twilight as it takes a while to get to this spot. It’s a civilized drive with a little over a mile of fairly smooth two track trail. A few miles of county gravel to start. It was cool this am in the 40’s with a stiff breeze. This kind of capture is handheld walking a ridge line I could park “Clever Girl” within walking distance of.
I am NOT used to 40 degree windy weather. There is this thing called windchill that works it’s way into the “hoodie” I had on. Just for your minds eye, I am usually in full camo dress as if I was hunting wildlife. As technically I am with the cameras lol. I would rather blend in than not.
I call this backcountry ridge “Sunset Ridge” for it’s awe inspiring views of the eastern horizon covering the Big Skies of BOTH Montana and Wyoming. There is even a little South AND North Dakota there in the lower Golden Alpenglow. A classic Alpenglow Gradient with a fully involved complex cloud deck. I watched this Saturday the 20th’s morning with 3PM Mountain time roughly being the actual solstice. That is when the sun is over directly head of the Tropic of Cancer at 23.5 degrees north Latitude. This location is for all intents and purposes exactly at 45 degrees North Latitude. This will be the longest day of the year. It was a beautiful morning.
Left early mid-nautical twilight as it takes a while to get to this spot. It’s a civilized drive with a little over a mile of fairly smooth two track trail. A few miles of county gravel to start. It was cool this am in the 40’s with a stiff breeze. This kind of capture is handheld walking a ridge line I could park “Clever Girl” within walking distance of. I am NOT used to 40 degree windy weather. There is this thing called windchill that works it’s way into the “hoodie” I had on. Just for your minds eye, I am usually in full camo dress as if I was hunting wildlife. As technically I am with the cameras lol. I would rather blend in than not.
Let me start by saying that I did nothing to the colors in this image. I also did no shadows/highlight work to this. Essentially it is a raw image from the camera. It’s naturally colored exactly as it occurred as I saw it in the lens. Of a VERY small part of the sky on the horizon. The 1200 mm lens I’m using to take this images a postage stamp sized area at arm’s length of the horizon here. The ridge here is 40 miles distant from my camera. Full sized pine trees top the ridge which is effectively the horizon. I suspect the total ridge line captured here is a mile long in the frame. Attracted I was to this capture by two things. :
So the first thing to stand out to me in this beside the Harlequin color scheme are the tremendous shadows of the apparent printing in the sky. I’m still trying to read what it says as it looks as much like a block of text as any cloud formation I’ve seen in my travels. Then there are the shadows of the “letters” in the clouds which are making letters themselves. The condition called Pareidolia : seeing shapes of common things / people / faces in clouds. I love graphic presentations by mother nature. There is a message there in text in my humble opinion. We’re just not smart enough to understand it. … I thought I was seeing smoke signals….
Twilight captures in June tend to be a very early morning rise for me. I’m thinking the night is just right at 8 hours long between sunrise and sunset these days. That makes for relatively short nights by the time I maintain my cameras for the next morning. Get up, get the dogs on patrol and something in my gut for breakfast. Then grab cam and go.
I often travel miles over two track backcountry roads to get to various locations I like to work terminator crossings. Some highpoint/ridgelines I frequent more than others but it depends on the time of year. That time of year of course controls which direction the sun is rising and setting. The sun is very far north at the moment and 2 days from the Summer Solstice as this posts (about a week after it was written on June 10th).
I get to have the sun rise and set over landscape features this time of year that I only see align for about 2 weeks. Similar short lived opportunities occur around the winter solstice as the sun rise and sets are furthest to the south. This celestial dance happens year after year. I just adjust my planning for where the “next photoshoot” is going to be based on the calendar. I run into most of the wildlife I photograph either on the way to work a sunset or after a sunrise on the way home. I’ve given up photographing wildlife in too dark an environment. Fully a waste of electrons as wildlife moves too much for low light work. The ones I do capture are rare. The wheel continues to turn if you watch.. 👀🤘
The stripe of orange/yellow colored ice under the Crimson Cloud Deck is what the sun light is passing through. A fully involved twilight sky is the result of that red/orange light making it through to the underside of a cloud deck This image was taken near the border line of Montana / Wyoming. The Butte actually sits directly on the border which coincidentally is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole. Some bright guy in the past decided that a kilometer would be based on the distance from the Equator to the North Pole. That distance is 10,000 kilometers between the geographic characteristics 90 degrees apart on the globe. There is actually a difference in distance to the south versus the north pole from the equator. There are several related discussions but that is something you’ll need to google for yourself 👀🤔😀
I must climb several hundred feet of topography to get this eastern view. It’s a several mile drive over two track roads. This spring time image from from May of 2020. With the drying out of my trails, I have much better access to the ranch’s high ground. The views are spectacular up there. I consider the east west view from certain high points around here to be 180 miles from horizon to horizon. Those spots however are not very easy to get to 1/2 hour before the sun rises lolol. The Big Sky of Montana merges seamlessly with the Wonderful Wyoming Skies right over my place.
The Backcountry sparsely populated now in mid winter. Few animal are about. The odd Jack Rabbit living mostly random grass left over from the summer cattle. Mice and Pack Rats round out the majority of the mammal population in this region. There may be a few deer about but they tend to stay near the forest not the gumbo covered flats. The grazing is sparse in Bentonitic (gumbo) clay rich soils.
Most of the Pronghorn which frequent this area all summer have migrated south. They move down to the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. This is down the road in Wyoming about 30 miles. So this land, dominated by fox, coyote is overseen by birds of prey. Those masters of the sky dominate the hierarchy of predators for this targeted population of small mammals.
It has been cold of late as I type this a week before it posts. Forecast is for snow moving in a few days before. Hopefully not so much but we do need the moisture. IT’s the snow that makes that spring/summer grass for the grazing of all species. We get most of our yearly 14 inches of precipitation from snowfall. Last year was exceptional exhibiting a wet summer and fall.
It’s still REALLY early for calving but it won’t be long. Ground like this opens for grazing mid-spring around May. In the summer you can see hundreds if not thousands of cattle on this same ground.
Location: Near the Bliss Dinosaur ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
The higher you go in the sky, the longer the light had to travel to get there. Therefore, the atmosphere itself is the filter here for me. I couldn’t boost the saturation if I wanted to in this image. The yellow light down low is mostly due to Atmospheric Ice and the “Alpenglow effect it generates. So the Big Projector Screen In the Sky as certainly fully involved on this night.
The Peaks of the Big Horn Mountains off over to the right of “Sneaky Pete” the Photobombing Windmil are 130 miles distant. Rising 13000 feet above sea level. The Big Horns have two peaks over 13K ft and are certainly two of the highest peaks in Wyoming. Here as viewed from the Montana/Wyoming border lands nearish to Biddle Montana. Just ignore Sneaky, he’s just in it for the publicity. He’s notorious for working his way into my landscapes. His older brother is the same way (Re Pete the windmill) but lives a couple of miles into the backcountry. It’s too muddy at the moment to pursue his cooperation under skies like this. I would damage too much turf to get there.
As I type this (one week before it posts), we have a winter storm incoming. We need a series of 4 inch snows over a month to catch up on the snow debt I perceive ongoing up here in the borderlands.