Sunburst Over The BigHorns is the solar equivalent of a nuclear burst over the 13,000 foot high mountain chain at sunset. A clear sky sun.. this was bright! The ice in the air was magnifying the sun like a projector screen.
Imagine this as a nuclear burst melting snow to vapor. This would be the scene just before you went blind ….. I think the trees on the first ridge would be smoking. You know…. Like the second Terminator Movie with Sarah Connors on the Chain Link Fence at a playground as the nuke goes off…. (Classical Reference to a SciFi Movie). I digress lolol.
This is a TOUGH light environment and on the edge of the envelope for any camera system. Looking into the sun with any gear is risky if your not using a mirrorless system and looking at the brightness ONLY on video. No direct light paths to your eyes allowed with this level of brightness. No DSLR’s. I look through a video eyepiece to set up my camera for captures like this. The term STUPID bright comes to mind lol.
There are two ridges visible in this image. The first lowest dark and treed ridge is 40 miles out from the camera and is called the “Red Hills”. They are right at the same elevation I live at. A long 130 miles to the high peaks from my lens.
The sun looks so big because the ice in the air projecting plus the distant mountains are really very small on the horizon while the sun is the same size. Further back, the mountains shrink but the sun looks bigger due to perspective. Telephoto lenses CRUSH perspective looking at an area of the sky the size of your thumb at arms length. Then they fill the image frame with it in high detail. Optical Zoom is FAR superior to digital zoom. FAR!
Sun Slide Composite: Taken about a minute apart, the sun slides into the Notch between two 13,000 foot high peaks of the Big Horn Mountains.
Setting suns move from left to right as well as the earth rising up to cover it’s face, the sun fell into that Notch. I’m pretty sure he couldn’t get out because it gradually got darker and then nothing. 😝
The Big Horns Mountains only Align with the setting sun and my ranch a few days a year and only one will the sun set into the notch. I’ve been trying to get this image for 20 years .. This week I had a pretty cooperative weather window. More of these will be incoming as I get them scheduled. I do occasionally travel to extend the alignment but there are only a few places high enough to see 130 miles to these peaks.
The BigHorn Mountain range is of course 130 miles out. This is a long 1200mm telephoto shot . There is a LOT of atmosphere between my camera ant the V notch. The area of the sky covered by this image at this distance is the size of a postage stamp at arms length or smaller. These mountains are WAY out there which I can see because I’m on a high ridge. There is another ridge down in the shadows that prevents me from seeing this if I’m not high enough up in elevation. Just a few spots for this angle.
The Play of light behind these peaks that night was spectacular to watch through the long lenses I use. I watch this essentially on video. Don’t try this with a standard DSLR camera with a direct light path to your eye. You will likely blind yourself. Please be careful. I use a mirrorless camera but even then if your camera isn’t rated for this, you could damage your gear.
BigHorn Mountain Sun Filter is a good a filter for reducing light into my camera as any glass filter out thre. Here the air was clear, there was some gravel dust lit up in the valley at the bottom. There were high clouds in a thin layer.
The BigHorn Mountains are 130 miles from my ranch (and this is taken on ranch). I’ve been following this angle for several days moving about 1 mile and a half north each night for this precise alignment this week. A few nights I’ve had clouds in the way but this night was perfect.
There was not excessive moisture in the air for a change. Looking into the furnace like this is a very hostile light environment for most cameras. Don’t try this at home with a DLSR with a direct optic path to your eye. I look at this through video and am at no risk for blinding.
This is certainly a unique view and I’m not aware of others trying to do this at such a distance. The little black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out (the “Red Hills”) The sky was cloudless but for a thin band as seen as my top frame for the image. What is amazing to me with this photo is the snow blowing up maybe 5000 feet off the peaks on the right.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch in Campbell County Wyoming and Powder River Montana, the Big Horns are in Sheridan County Wyoming. The sun is a bit further out there.
This V-shaped Sun Pillar over the Bighorns northern ridges was magnificent from 130 miles distant.
The Ground Blizzard on the peaks must have been intense at the peaks for it to blow so obviously. Remember the area of the sky in this photo is smaller than a postage stamp at arms length. I look into really bright little areas of the sky with my gear. 130 mils is so far that the air between here and there becomes a serious deciding factor if I can see the range or not. It’s the ice in front high between the ranch and myself that is lit up by the sunlight pushing over the saddle between the peaks. The sun is actually down for this so this is a night shot 😎
LONG telephoto shots like this are deceiving. Hold a postage stamp out at arms length and look at the horizon. This image would fit into that stamp. A 1200mm looks at very small things on the horizon. The mountains in this image are ONLY 9,000 – 10,000 feet high at this northern section of the Big Horn Mountain Range. The Big Peaks are to the left of this frame. .