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Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds

Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds
Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds

Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds (A MUST for Full Screen)

Ducks were EVERYWHERE taking off that morning for parts unknown but likely south of here. The Cattle Hang here because the rancher feeds them nearby AND there is liquid water. The fog while freezing is still warmer than the air surrounding this microclimate.

This was taken down at the geothermal lakes about 20 miles to my south. There is a deep oilfield (5000 feet) that a lot of HOT water comes up with the petroleum. The geothermal water separated from the oil is treated before it is released into the environment of course. The ponds that are resultant from the field seldom freeze even in the coldest weather. I’ve never seen those lakes freeze over and I’ve worked them for weeks of -20 F degrees weather. The water exits the processing plant at 140 degrees. Even miles downstream, the ponds fed by that run off aren’t freezing yet.

The fog that develops here rivals the geothermal steams that Yellowstone has but here in Cattle Country. This geothermal lake area is adjacent to the ThunderBasin National Grassland in Campbell/Crook County. The water is fine for stock and game to drink according to the EPA controlling the site. Each lake is a liquid water oasis in the middle of a frozen desert for the animals living there. Each lake is also an enormous producer of that fog with warm water under -20 air. The wildfowl that gather here most nights would amaze you. I’ve caught many wonderful images in this area.

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

Title: Misty Morning Geothermal Ponds

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Hoar Frost Fence Line

Hoar Frost Fence Line
Hoar Frost Fence Line

Hoar Frost Fence Line

The sub-zero morning I took this out on a flat covered by geothermal steam. The Hoar frost covered ANYTHING that was exposed to the wind. Freezing fog grew monster ice feathers off every surface that disrupted smooth air flow. Long shadows and red light dominate this scene …

Here on the Montana/Wyoming border, the snow is usually as deep as the backcountry is big. Just a few plowed paths are about to provide access to the high ground. The wind here moves a lot of snow from ridges to the surrounding slopes so if your on the ridge, DON’T get off the ridge. You loose the traction of “position” off the top. The snow on the flats is unpredictable.

Given the opportunity, I will set up for a Close/Far perspective capture when ever a fence “of interest” is around. This was a sunrise session that started in early twilight and worked for several hours. It’s not every day I see this kind of hoar frost plus red morning light. It does happen but not necessarily every year up here. The highest ridges are 4000 feet in elevation. This is around 3700 feet. Thus creating a fantastic environment for hoar frost growth to prodigious proportions.

Woven Wire Fence: When you absolutely don’t want smaller livestock going from pasture to pasture. It makes a wonderful nucleation spot for ice crystals to grow from. The low angle light was still awesome. Working backcountry has it’s little areas of zen. We just have to slow down and see them. Capture their photons. The ironically, hurry on to the next little spot of zen lololol. Such is the life of “working” a scene with cameras…. 📸🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Hoar Frost Fence Line

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Sunset Through Frosty Pines

Sunset Through Frosty Pines
Sunset Through Frosty Pines

Sunset Through Frosty Pines

This is a capture initiated by the -2 degree evening, the icy air and the lighting. The later of which was JUST settling down over the ridge with less than a minute left in the day.

Photographic Musings:

Topographically, I’m working just over the lip of that higher ridge. Opportunities like this after photographing that sun coming up over a ridge 1 mile out are important parts of the timeline. I move quickly to transition to working a closer ridge several hundred yards out as the sun climbs. A sunset for me is a period of moving from place to place to take advantage of the terrain. It is very important to know WHERE to and WHEN to move to the next shot. Extending your time working the “Golden Hour” is the result. You only have so much time to “Work the Light”.

Shadow line:

I work “Parallel” ridges because I’m very mobile to look for interesting leading lines and angles into the light. Here I saw this long line of smaller pines covered in ice from freezing fog the night before. (the night I’m typing this the same weather is occurring and I’ll be up on the ridges for sure ). There was an 1/8th inch of ice on everything that was exposed to the wind. So a vibrant landscape with an interesting weather event… (a hero as every photo needs a hero). But working that shadow line is the game.

The glare from the sun is quite a hard thing to deal with. I am literally looking into the sun with this camera with a white ground reflecting light plus the ice. The trees are my cellulose filter in front of my lens. Regardless, I had to turn my camera to HIGH F-stop, LOW ISO and your shutter speed is used to balance the equation. If you don’t want a sun star, go f-11 mid range. You adjust either with a neutral density filter in front of your lens (I hate them), or higher shutter speeds. Many consumer cameras don’t have 1/8000th shutter like the higher end models do to compensate . So faster shutter speed to reduce light into the camera may not be as much of an option depending on your equipment. Be careful pointing your camera into the sun.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana

Title: Sunset Through Frosty Pines

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Hoar Frost Red Light

Hoar Frost Red Light
Hoar Frost Red Light

Hoar Frost Red Light (Full Screen is really a nice way to view with this image).

RIght at sunrise when the light from the sun is colorcast markedly red, any scene with hoar frost reacts vividly. Here on this high ridge with an infinite view to the horizon 100 miles away. This, the same light that makes the Pink “Belt of Venus”. Also responsible for the Red lIghting on distant hills these long traveled rays. Ultimately reflected to my lens. All pink is sky images are reflecting this very light. Those long red rays are going through the most atmosphere. The really bound off the bright white frost flowers and crystals. Catching it digitally is another thing 📷🤔

This scene is produced here to the same colors I experienced that morning. It’s as close as I can do it. Note how the snow in the shadows is grey/white .(natural) While the sunlit pure white frost turns into a nearly fiber optic pink projector screen.

Exposed surfaces to the wind were coated here by 3/4 of an inch of hoar frost. The north side of trees, grass interrupted the air flow of moisture laden air. This changed the “Triple Point” (good google word along water vapor). The Hoar frost growth is ice forming simply by moist air flowing over objects where a SLIGHT pressure change from the turbulence causes deposition of the ice. It’s crystal growth live real time that I’ve watched happening real time during several trips up on the ridges. I have gone up in terrible foggy cold weather to work the flat light before a time or two lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Hoar Frost Red Light

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Belt of Venus Framed

Belt of Venus Framed
Belt of Venus Framed

Belt of Venus Framed

It was an Icy Alpenglow Morning right at sunrise up yonder on the ridgetops. The main show over my shoulder is usually yellow (ish) but this backshow is Pink. This pink back show is called the “Belt of Venus” which is often on going while your watching the sunrise, you miss this show. Several image from this particular morning made it through the “sieve” I use to determine which photo to work on.

Alpenglow is the result ice in the air lighting up with the bright first pink starting about 40 minutes before sunrise… and then gradients to other nearly pure primary colors to Lavender at times up high. The Blue Line UNDER the Pink is the Shadow of the earths horizon. As the sun rises that blue band shrinks eventually disappearing just as the sun rises. The red/pink will often work down on the “Red Hills in the distance enhancing their already red rocks (Clinker) with the extra colorcast.

The hoar frost covering any exposed surface made for a winter wonderlands for a photographer with time before sunrise. Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. The formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2 inches long.

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

Title: Belt of Venus Framed

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Pine Noodle Sun Rise

Pine Noodle Sun Rise
Pine Noodle Sun Rise

Pine Noodle Sun Rise

This Close Far perspective is a favorite way to deal with first light of morning. Fortunately this ridge had a 1/4 inch of Hoar Frost covering all the vegetation. I call these “Pine Noodles” as it just seems to fit.

The earliest light as the sun is just rising has a decidedly pink color cast. Usually this is most obvious on the sky opposite the sunrise. The “Belt of Venus” which is a very pink Alpenglow phenomena reflecting said pink light back. Pine Needles coated in ice make a very good projection/reflection screen. This pink color cast is not that common on local vegetation and is usually only perceptible on the atmospheric ice.

Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. The formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2 inches long.

2:1 aspect meant to be a duplex. (2-20×20 frames)

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Pine Noodle Sun Rise

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Red Light Crack of Dawn

Red Light Crack of Dawn
Red Light Crack of Dawn

Red Light Crack of Dawn

I’ve been on this spot many times. It is not easy to gain access to Midwinter. I have discovered that gaining elevation is a necessity required to acquire views such as this. 400 feet higher up here than where I live on the lower lip of this ridge. This rare back-lighting effect (colorcast) is accurately produced here exactly as I experienced it. The Red “Belt of Venus” in the sky background is from the same color light reflected in the atmospheric ice. The White Snow acting like a projector screen. I see a few of these a year historically. The snow and the hoar frost created “Pine Noodles” out of the needles. Witnessing and understanding what is happening below the surface are two different things however 🤔📷.

The snowstorm began at nightfall but ceased at mid-night. Bedded down were all the animals. The crisp wet morning accented the twilight. It might take half an hour of pre-sun travel to gain access this high remote ridge. There are no maintained roads up here off the county road. Busting drifts you can’t see is always a challenge…. Stuck describes a situation my 15 year partner Jeep Grand Cherokee I just traded in has never been. They ride like a board sadly under these backcountry two track roads. New ride 🙂

The Lone Tree and a few of it’s children surrounding the old soldier. These trees live in some very harsh conditions. They are almost all twisted grain under that bark from the high winds at the ridge.

This 40 mile landscape overlooks the Trail Creek Drainage. Off in the distance to the Little Powder River Drainage. The Mountain Ridge on the horizon is a reference point here. The camera is at the same elevation as the saddles between the peaks in the distance. This is a BIG valley / river drainage. The Big Horn Mountains had filled that big valley between the far hills with where I stand here.. The “Little Powder River, a 20 foot wide river most of the time removed all that sediment here to there….. Humm.. The “Alluvial Fans” (google this) from the Big Horn Mountains washed up to our doorsteps from 130 miles distant. Those have been bisected and removed by that little river. It’s drainage fingers cover a large area too. This is just a dry environment. This geomorphological process has taken a while.

Our ranch literally sits on the geologic inflection point between the Black Hills Uplift to our east and the Powder River Basin west (this view) The range distant to the horizon earned it name, the “Red Hills”. (I wonder why?)😜 Morning Red LIght is always illuminating those peaks for me.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Red Light Crack of Dawn

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Woven Wire Hoar Frost

Woven Wire Hoar Frost
Woven Wire Hoar Frost

Woven Wire Hoar Frost

The sub-zero morning I took this up on a high ridge, the Hoar frost covered ANYTHING that was exposed to the wind. Freezing fog grew monster ice feathers off every surface that disrupted smooth air flow. I have many images yet to finish from that morning.

Here on the Montana/Wyoming border, the snow is as deep as the backcountry is big with just a few plowed paths to provide access to the high ground. The wind here moves a lot of snow from ridges to the surrounding slopes so if your on the ridge, DON’T get off the ridge. You loose the traction of “position” off the top.

Given the opportunity, I will set up for a Close/Far perspective capture when ever a fence “of interest” is around. This was a very early morning session that started in early twilight and worked for several hours. It’s not every day I see this kind of hoar frost. It does happen but not necessarily every year up here. The highest ridges are 4000 feet in elevation. With valley fog being pushed over higher elevations. Thus creating a fantastic environment for hoar frost growth to prodigious proportions.

Woven Wire Fence: When you absolutely don’t want smaller livestock going from pasture to pasture. It makes a wonderful nucleation spot for ice crystals to grow from. The low angle light was still very spotty. I had to find a “Slit” through the trees to catch this. Working backcountry has it’s little areas of zen. Millions of them actually. We just have to slow down and see them. Capture their photons. The ironically, hurry on to the next little spot of zen lololol. Such is the life of “working” a scene with cameras…. 📸🤔

Title: Woven Wire Hoar Frost

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Frosty Milk on Tap

Frosty Milk on Tap
Frosty Milk on Tap

Frosty Milk on Tap

It was cold, it was foggy, it was frost that morning. These moms were bunching up to gain a little extra body warmth from their neighbors. Their breath was lighting up in the low angle light. Living in sub-zero weather that is actively hoar frosting has got to be challenging.

This was taken down at the geothermal lakes about 20 miles to my south. There is a deep oilfield (5000 feet) that a lot of HOT water comes up with the petroleum. The geothermal water separated from the oil is treated before it is released into the environment of course. The ponds that are resultant from the field seldom freeze even in the coldest weather. I’ve never seen those lakes freeze over and I’ve worked them for weeks of -20 F degrees weather. The water exits the processing plant at 140 degrees. Even miles downstream, the ponds fed by that run off aren’t freezing yet.

The fog that develops here rivals the geothermal steams that Yellowstone has but here in Cattle Country. This geothermal lake area is adjacent to the ThunderBasin National Grassland in Campbell/Crook County. The water is fine for stock and game to drink according to the EPA controlling the site. Each lake is a liquid water oasis in the middle of a frozen desert for the animals living there. Each lake is also an enormous producer of that fog with warm water under -20 air. The wildfowl that gather here most nights would amaze you. I’ve caught many wonderful images in this area. More to come this week as I’m working some images from this area currently.

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

Title: Frosty Milk on Tap

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Divergent Light Rays Perspective

Divergent Light Rays Perspective
Divergent Light Rays Perspective

Divergent Light Rays Perspective

The forest creates areas of interest by the way the vegetation effects the light. Light alleys, tunnels, vertical lines accentuated by pine “noodles” complicated the scene. In this forest, the only thing not covered by hoar frost was I. Anything near this spot was pretty much everything was reflective white. This effectively magnifies the brightness of the scene. Human eyes can not stand this level of light in the real world.

Photographic Musings:

I love REALLY wide angle lenses. Taken with a 10mm rectilinear lens. Taken in 2×3 aspect on a full frame camera. .

(back to english)

As the light wraps around the camera, similarly, the lens sees widely around the camera to see past what your eyes would normally see. Your peripheral vision has nothing on this lens. The perspective here wraps around you. It causes you peer into the center. Hundreds of leading lines in this image. Each line leading your eye toward the light. The joy of a good mirrorless camera is you can actually look at a video screen. Because you DON’T have a direct light path to your eye. Even a scene this bright will not blind you. Live real time not after the shot. Do NOT try this with a DSLR camera as the direct light path to your eye could blind you.

It was about 6 degrees and a freezing fog had moved across this ridge top all night. The resultant hoar frost was monumental in it’s effects. I have Many wonderful images from this ridge / morning. A little chilly with the humidity in the air lol.

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

Title: Divergent Light Rays Perspective

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Post Pounder From Hell

Post Pounder From Hell
Post Pounder From Hell

Post Pounder From Hell

Best example of Hoar Frost I’ve ever seen. 1.5 – 2 inch needles. Captured here at the homestead

This used to be just a 30 pound pipe with handles. Now it’s a prickly pipe. The borderlands always have surprises for me to photograph.

Driving T-posts for fence use is their purpose around the ranch. It was upright on my ATV on a freezing fog night that covered ANYTHING that disrupted air flow. There is a natural funnel between the building on tI have many images from that morning but I believe this to be the best.

I spent hours walking around with a few cameras that morning. Hoar frost usually only deposits on sharp surfaces/points where turbulence changes the triple point.

Science Musings:

The triple point is where the combination of temperature and pressure is such that something like ice can be in any of its 3 states. Ice, Water, Water Vapor co-exist at the “triple point. (Great google word for the day). Ice can change at the tiple point right to gas in a process called sublimation. Condensation is where water vapor collects into droplets of Liquid Water, Evaporation is liquid water changing to gas. Each phase change takes

I won’t get into the math of this. IT is definitely a good science class all in and of itself. Science and the knowledge of it give you the ability to understand what is ongoing around you. The pursuit of knowing is key to actually see beyond just looking. Humans are generalists mostly. Good photographers, not so much. They see into the “zone” catching the little areas of zen in the common that others miss. Keep on Clicking folks.. 📸

Square Aspect.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Monatana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Post Pounder From Hell