Wyotana Sunsets on ridges 10 miles out through a “sun slit” below the cloud deck.
These scenes can go either way as I set up evaluating where I wanted to go for that night. I have this little map in my head where terrain and the sun will align on a particular night. This Deep Saddle between two higher sections of that 10 mile distant ridge in the Prairie “Dog Hills”. A heavy overcast like this is always an IFFY thing to put the time and energy into. It’s a lot of workloading up the vehicle and take the cameras out for an hour or two.
Here I was chasing questionable skies. This is always a risky thing to schedule/commit to lol. The rare possible rewards such as this make it worthy of both your attention and my time. But just occasionally. I evaluate the weather before sun rise and sunset every day then decide my photographic activities for the evening. I got lucky on this particular image as the sun lit this sky up like a neon bulb. All as Sol dropped into the clear below the deck. I’m very picky on the light I work on these days lol.
Fast forward to the present:
I type this at 5 in the morning, 1.5 hours till sunrise. The scenario for sunrise seems to be coming to something like this. Overcast….. It often takes me over an hour to shoot a BASIC sunset from 1/2 hour before to 1/2 after. Extended shows can run 2 hours. Me committing to 2 hours of photography on an iffy sky isn’t good time management. I have about 4000 backlogged images to refinish …. It seems silly but new material is important somehow lolol. There is always: “You have to be there with a camera to get the light” (Rule 1 of photography). The sky has been horrible all week for photography and the snow is old. We need some light snow to freshen the scenes up.
This is tough capture that your not going to get on your cell phone lol. Let me set the stage for this stage play beyond most of your picture taking experiences.
To have this melodrama unfold in your mind, please understand that that silhouetted ridge is 40 miles from my camera. The sun a bit further. With the prodigious size of the optics, a significant wind cross section can be a factor moving your camera about. Not so much for this bright light capture. Shutter speed will dampen that motion. You need to use a fast shutter 1/2000th sec or higher so as not to gather too much light. Also LOW ISO numbers (camera sensitivity).
The most important thing is setting your camera to a HIGH a f-stop number as you lens will go. If you don’t, this WILL cook your camera’s sensor if your not working through a pin hole sized aperture. Talk about a bright scene….. The human eye has no right to be looking into such a harsh environment. (Disclaimer below)
Working from a high ridge helps get above the hazier air (at times) closer to the ground out of the picture. It improves the angle. Position is everything. Now I’d love to have a cell tower or a building for scale. Alas, there are not many up in this country with no cell service lol. Those are full sized trees and they are really REALLY far away👀 3200mm lens involved in this. Tripod for sure lol.
I remind you that it’s not the sun that is setting/falling here. We live on a spinning ball with the horizon actually doing the rising thusly slowly covering the face of the sun. The “Sun Slit” under the thick cloud deck above was just a sliver. Only allowing this fleeting scene to penetrate the space between the cloud with the opaque earth.
Disclaimer: Do not point your camera at the sun without knowing that DSLR’s have a direct light path that can and will blind you if you watch the sun through it. I use mirrorless full frame technology and watch scenes on video. No direct light path AND
Weather this year has been cooperative in getting the Setting BigHorn Sun over the Notch between the 13,000 foot high peaks.
The Sun apparent motion is from left to right as well as down so it actually set on the peaks to the right. It’s kind of tricky to figure out where to set up for an image like this. I’m WAY out away from the range at 130 miles for this shot and the area in the sky this image covers is tiny. Hold up your thumb at an arms length and your covering it from where I am. Those are HUGE peaks, they just get smaller as I move away. The sun doesn’t change size so quickly lolol.
This sky was a Sunslit. The sun came down from the thick cloud deck above to light up the narrow strip of the sky. The relative difference in dynamic range of the bright sun and the much less bright land makes silhouettes. My eyes could have seen details in the land if I wasn’t totally blinded by the sun at that moment.
I remind you it’s not the sun that is setting. It’s the horizon that is rising. Things are as they are, not as they seem or as you were told. This is the basis science works off of. The trick is to determine how they are … The essence of discovery is the effort to discern the way things actually work. Electricity comes out of the wall right?