The first ridge of Rock, theTullock Formation, (Tertiary Alluvial Fans ) deposited 130 miles from the Big Horn Mountain which were the Source of the sediment. High gradient Streams ran off those distant slopes bringing the debris all the way out here. The first ridge is part of the “Prairie Dog Hills that span the Montana / Wyoming border 8 miles to my west. . It’s rough country out there too lol.
The Second Ridge is the spine of the “Red Hills” 40 miles distant. The Little Powder River Squeezes into the valley behind some 400 feet lower than the second ridge top. Sediments derived from the Big Horn Uplift were the source material. There are considerable area of “Clinker” Rock in those hills. Clinker is natures ceramic. Underground coal fires bake the clay surrounding the coal layers into a red Ceramic thus the moniker of “Red Hills”.
Finally, the March morning back show looking at the last sliver of the setting Full April Egg Moon (Passover moon). The moon heavily distorted from the atmospheric lensing that low in the air. The color is a result of only the red wavelengths making to my camera through that air. 1200mm long lens on a big heavy tripod. 2 second Time Exposure.
This moon is is also known by other name variations such as the Paschal Moon, Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Hare Moon, and the Sprouting Grass Moon. IT will occur Tuesday, April 7th at 8:35PM, Mountain Time. This image is from Last Aprils Paschal Moon. This Moon sometimes occurs in March and sometimes in April. The word Paschal means “Passover” in Greek (a transliteration of the Hebrew word pesach).
When I get a Full moon setting close to the horizon and JUST enough light, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon).
The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out from a parallel ridge in this capture. The moon is a little further behind.
Photographic Musings: There were heavily banded clouds with the moon mostly filtered out behind the veil through the twilight.. In an out of view over it’s last hour in the sky this morning which I observed. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges.
I work the “Shadow” line on the opposite ridge by driving along it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”. There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture. This veiled sun was ‘easy”. A partially veiled moon behind this tree is a common occurrence. This is low low light to catch that tree pre-sunrise in mid-civil twilight.
The chill of the upcoming winter was in the air. I captured an old soldier of a wildlife tree. Heavily used by Wood Peckers and Flickers to hunt in for grubs. It oversees/overllows all on it’s high backcountry ridge redoubt. A safe nest for a dozen creatures. Within is a rest from the relentless high ground wind. A rest here for this Great Horned Owl while the rising moon lights up the scene. While dark to our eyes, the extraordinary night vision of the hunting raptor (and my Sony Alpha 7RIV) pierce the darkness. 😜 📸
Did I mention the above is art. The moon just by itself is a 16 image composite. I own the owl silhouette and the snag/twilight photo. Took me a bit to do this well. 🤔👀 (Landscape up to 3×2 feet)
Now the Science:
The owls perception of the night world and need to detect the smallest movement a trait of the species. This would be a real world nocturnal and uncommon encounter. I’m ignoring the limitations of physics and gear to get an image like this require it’s construction in the digital dark room. This scene has happened millions of times however. They would be REALLY hard to catch in the real world. It’d take a heck of a lens to do this at maybe 500 yards out. Having said that, if this ever unveiled in front me in the real world, I could certainly capture the image. That is, if I were given about 5 minutes to get into position/set up lolol.
While active during the day at times, they habituate the darkness and are totally apex predators in this environment. Just to stress the point, none of this would be happening without the moon. (Morning citizen scientist assignment, please google “moon formation”).
The moon is our planets protector. It’s mass around the earth keeps the earths rotation stable. Research reveals that less than 10 percent of terrestrial planets may have a satellite large enough to provide the stability life needs to develop. (This is a big deal and where some genuine magic occurs)
The Mass and resultant gravity is necessary for stabilizing the Tilt of our planet like a huge slow motion gyroscope. Scientists say Earth’s “obliquity”, as this tilt is known, is important to remain stable. Changes in Obliquity have huge repercussions from the resultant environmental reactions. Should Earth’s obliquity wander over hundreds of thousands of years, it would cause environmental chaos by creating a climate too variable for complex life to develop in relative peace. Imagine obliquity such that the South Pole is all daylight 100 percent of the time and the North Pole in 100 percent night sky. Our lunar neighbor has literally made it possible for you to read this as a sequence of events set up in the flow of Space and Time. 🤔📸
Photographing images like this a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon which makes using Tripods very difficult. Maybe a monopod. This was handheld. Distance is your friend here from that Lone tree. I’m about 600 yards out from it for this shot. This is a full sized image not a crop. Doing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage brush around on uneven ground.
Capturing this kind of image is a “sub-hobby” of mine within the general photography that I do. I find it a seriously fun challenge to get terrestrial objects in the same focal plane as the moon or the sun in twilight or darker conditions. Just like this 📸
It takes a Manual Mode setting to do this folks. Cell phone cameras need not apply and won’t do this without an external lens of some rigged hook up….lolol Lots of F-stop, then all you have to do is adjust the other two parameters left, ISO (camera sensitivity) and Shutter speed. I’ve covered that many times elsewhere so I won’t do it again here 📸 It takes a lot of focal length in your lens to do this.
. 2×3 aspect to 3 feet wide from a 1200 mm telephoto lens. Not a crop.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands
It’s not magic using a 12 inch Meade LX 200 Telescope at 3200mm. The result can be very interesting in the details… This bottom 1/3rd of a D moon (first quarter). I took this in infra-red capture… so any color would be artificial. Infra-red comes out pretty and pink raw out of the camera. This is more like it was at the time I took it not far from the horizon. The seeing was good that night. That was the mystical part….It doesn’t happen often enough even up here at 4000 feet in the dark dark westerns skies of the Montana/Wyoming borderlands.
It takes me 6 images at this magnification to stitch together the full moon into one frame. The resultant file is rather large lol. There was very good “seeing” that night. “Seeing” is a term astronomers and amateurs as myself use to describe the atmospheres transparency at any particular time. WHen the moon is straight up, the seeing tends to be better due to the less atmosphere your looking through. I see horribly distorted moons near the horizon where the atmospheric distortions have their way with the transmitted image. Turbulence above me usually blurs the details that this this light let through to my photon capture boxes (cameras).
Pursuit of the moon is a very cyclical thing. If your hunting for details, then you want LONG shadows to accentuate them. Full moons are wonderful of course, generally easy photography but the detail in the craters are elusive. I live very much in tune with the lunar cycle as well as the yearly sun’s migration I photograph both when they present me with opportunity and light worthy of your attention.
A little Backcountry Magic for you moon lovers out there.
The Atmospheric Lensing was in full blown effect for this. The moon distorted by the mirage lines. Remember that this moon is actually below the line of sight to the horizon at this moment. The moons image here has been bent around the planet over the horizon by the differences in air density/temperature. Without atmosphere in the way, you wouldn’t see it yet. It’s actually below the horizon which is dropping to expose it. (You realize the horizon is dropping NOT the moon is rising right??) The times of sunrise and sunset are always off a minute or so because of this phenomena for objects (the sun too) near the horizon.
In a nutshell, you need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a full moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher). High f-stop gives you a deep field of focus that extends foreground object to infinity (moon). Being the double edged sword that f-stop is, by turning it up, you reduce the already low light level in the camera. A short 3 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera.. I did this handheld at about 1/30th second. Your ISO (camera sensitivity) is your wildcard. Change it to get an image as rule one is get the image…damn the graininess (which high ISO will give you). There are only three things you have to adjust to use your camera on manual mode after all.
Moon, This is the Moon. NOT the Sun. Captured from a Truck Window mounted camera up high in the backcountry of MT/WY. I have been able to get around with my “new rig” a little better. This capture on a remote ridge. This was done with a 30 second time exposure to pick up all the ambient light that was about. I could BARELY see this blush on the trees and had to set up my camera to catch this. A little tricky actually but the thought process is straight forward. The moon was heavily veiled for this and that limited me to landscapes instead of moon photos lol. This is the result.
Known as the Snow Moon, named after the snow on the ground. Some North American tribes named it the Hunger Moon due to the scarcity food. Also the hard hunting conditions during mid-winter. Others named it the Storm Moon for the tendency towards brutal February ‘s storms
This was a very very dark capture. A 30 second time exposure requires a very stabile platform like a heavy tripod or a sand bag and a remote trigger. I used a timer. Your first priority is shutter speed, the more the shutter is open, the more light the camera is going to collect. 30 seconds is a long exposure for me.
The Aperture was F-11. To get Deep focal fields, F-11 is low for me. I wanted the Moon lit “Snow Diamonds” to show up in focus. The Snow Diamonds would blur setting a lower F-stop. Any higher F-stop and the image would have been too dark. Focal Length was 48mm.I hate using ISO higher than about 150 but here I used 300. (camera sensitivity.)
Satire: The forest is full of a million moments of time and space. Different moments and different angles each contribute to what a camera can save for our amusement. It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time to see the play go on stage.
Here the moon had found a nice place to catch a comfortable rest before climbing to it’s zenith. Thank heavens this didn’t hold up the moon very long as there are so many things that rely on precise timing of the moon and the tides. 😃 Think of the mess if the moon gets held up.🤔🤔
Back to my normal programming:
Of course there are other phenomena related to the full moon besides photographers making up satire. Emergency rooms get busy on full moon nights. I worked as a medic for 20 years total and I give some credence to that discussion. I’ve seen some crazy stuff on full moon nights. They say that dogs are 28 percent more likely to be taken on an ER vet visit during the full moon. Birth Rates go up (don’t ask me! I learned what caused that crap early on). More Crimes are committed (FBI stats), Amazingly and last in this short list is that during a full moon is a better time to have surgery. The outcome statistically is better during the full moon. I don’t ask why. I just go with the flow….
Pink Alpenglow on Snow Moon (Moon Monday all Day Plus a Windmill Weekday)
Rare mornings each month does the Full moon set with the sunrise behind the photographer. Rarer yet are the mornings that we’ve just had a fresh snow coating everything. Add to that the Red/Pink light of the Belt of Venus falling down on the snow. The 40 miles wide Little Powder River Valley stretches across to the “Red Hills” (Their real name). The 6 inches of fresh snow over the last couple of days has been blowing around from a strong wind. “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill had to get into the picture as is his propensity of course. I have no control over his photobombing actions. In his defense, I find he provides scale for this perspective crushing telephoto shot
Mustings on Agility:
Standing back 400 yards from this .5 second exposure that was on a window clamp mount using my vehicle as a tripod out in a snow covered field that allowed this angle. Yes, this morning I was driving through drifts and 6 inches flat of snow all over the place. I have enjoyed the extra clearance that this new f-150 Raptor has. I’ve never had to take it out of 4 wheel high so far. Off road even down hills pretty steep hills (and getting back up) is doable so far. Usually valleys are black holes for 6000 pound objects that drop below the ridge line. I’ve not managed to get it stuck so far. I’ve gone many places that would have stuck my old jeep hard. I am much more agile in this rig than any other I’ve driven up in the high backcountry.
Twilight is the time of dark blue and pink in the sky. Spring is the time of the calving. Add the two and you get a story to be told in this Diptych side by side image. (2-20 inch squares).
Corriente’ Long Horns are a hardy group having come over first to the “Americas” in 1493. Their descendants walk down this hill slope in this capture. A solid unbroken line since then. Hardy souls all with very little care required for their up keep. Just standard vet care for cattle. They pretty much fend for them selves but will mooch off the other cattle about if there are any. Last winter my small herd of 32 Corriente were the only cattle on the ranch. Besides some lick and some salt, I only had to feed the 12 Large Bales over the winter. They paw the ground to expose grass similar to how Buffalo do it.
I actually took this through the fence that surrounds our “compound. I had just returned from a photo mission and was closing up the homestead for the evening.. You know, closing gates so deer don’t cross them, putting the chickens to bed locking them into their coop. In the same motion I lock the creatures that don’t need to be in with the chickens out. We have a 8 foot high deer exclusion fence around about 10 acres we live in. It’s high and it’s electric. Not too much get’s through it. My cats negotiate it occasionally. I’ve actually seen where they get through and fixed several places but keeping out skunks is a tough one. I have kept porcupines at bay with my fences.
A little moon Magic from exactly the Montana/Wyoming border. OK, that is 45 degrees north Latitude. Exactly 1/2 way between the equator and the north pole. It’s exactly 2700 nautical miles to either from here. One of the prime meridians. Might be some symbolism here. ☯
All taken in the month of December 2019 for the Full Cold Moon surrounded by waxing and waning crescents. The full moon on December 12, 2019 is known as Cold Moon, Open Moon or Big Winter Moon.
Waning Crescent Moon January (Moon followers Unite)
Different phases and faces of that celestial neighbor constantly present themselves to me during the day and twilight but I find myself not going out much in the winter after dark. I let my mastiffs do my wandering around the homestead at night.
When I do get out I after nautical twilight at night or before Civil Twilight in the morning. Usually I am completely focused on twilight. Some rare astronomic events have me peaking outside at cloud cover in the middle of the night. I really don’t sleep much but I do photography all day which makes my circuit breaker to pop sometime during the evening lol. I’m either on camera or on computer finishing these days. I get my chores done on ranch too. Take care of a greenhouse and a flock of 80 birds, 6 cats and my personal Mastiffs. I’ve been feeding haybales to our corraled/captured herd of Corriente for a few weeks. 34 longhorn cattle go through a 1200 pound bail of hay in 2 days.
I digress…. The “Waning” part of Waning Moon gets smaller each night until the “New Moon” where the moon is entirely in shadow. I do have some captures of just that 2 illuminated percent crescent. This moon will evolve over the next few nights into that sliver. This is a 4 picture composite of the face of the moon in real color through a 3200mm refractor optic. Handheld actually on the roof of a vehicle rested.
Location: Over the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).
MOONDAY Monday, moon photos, all day, number 6 of 6 at 9PM.
I hope you enjoyed my moon Monday collection of Full Moon images. I’ve never done a thematic day before. If you like Moon Monday let me know and I’ll do it again in the future sometime.
“Sneaky Pete”the Windmill here provides a perspective regardless of his intent to photo-bomb this moon capture. I have no control over his actions. He just likes the attention. He and his bigger older brother “Re Pete” live and work here on ranch. They seem to work their way into my landscapes way higher than the statistical average compared to other ranch creatures. 😜😜😀
Manual Mode Phobia: (You know who you are) ….
Close / Far perspectives are a complex photographic challenge for all of you. An automatic setting on your camera is not going to do this image.
I’ve gone through the basics a few times and will entertain questions below for photographic solutions to your working on manual mode aversion. (Kind of like fear of swimming). You just have to jump in and turn that top dial to M. Then you figure out which control wheel controls each of the three settings you change in manual mode. ISO (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (size of the aperture/pupil in the lens), finally Shutter Speed.
You only need to understand those three things to run on Manual mode. Their relationship to each other and how messing with one, requires you to mess with the others a tad to compensate the amount of light coming into the camera. Your riding a three way light teeter totter trying to balance those settings.
MONDAY MOONDAY : All moons all day….moon image number 5 (of 6) for the day 6pm edition..
Backcountry Moon Cradle:
I find that the moon is a lazy celestial object. Always sitting down on the job. Here I caught the sneaky planetoid JUST lifting off the “snag” cradle it was sitting on. Who knows how long it was sitting there. I mean it only moved after I pointed a camera at it… I catch the old guy resting on unusual things all the time walking parallel Ridges on the shadow line.
Missed are a million moments in time depending on the angle you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. I’m always looking at angles and what I have to do to achieve the perspective I’m looking for. The ability to anticipate the way things WILL happen and being there with a camera in your hand is about 100 percent of the photography game. The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography. Can’t stand with no ground under.
As this moon is rising, I have to walk closer to the hill to keep the perspective. If I move forward about 20 feet, you can’t see the log / snag. Also If I move up 20 feet I’m suspended in mid air levitating above a 20 foot deep gully next to the path. The ground I am actually standing on lol. I wonder how many photographers have walked a little more back, a little more, and more. Only to find out that there wasn’t any ground there.
MOON MONDAY 12pm ‘entry’ for this Last Monday of the decade.
The Pink Belt of Venus Alpenglow phenomena that colors the sky Pink was turning to cranberry on the left of the frame. I LOVE smooth subtle gradients in skies.
I try my best to find tight frames for the moon. It’s surprisingly hard. I couldn’t step back any further as topography is my master in that. Operationally, I often drive or walk the “shadow” line on parallel ridges of the moon or sun to find an interesting “Close” object to get in focus with the moon. I’ve worked parallel ridges for miles while the moon or sun rises or sets, I’m on that line. The moon is considered an infinite focus but in low light, getting closer things precisely focused is a function of distance and f-stop. F-stop is the aperture (pupil) size of your lens. Higher numbers is small pupil, lower f-stop number are a bigger pupil (aperture). Manual Mode….
High F-stop number give you deep focal fields but they are a double edged sword. High f-stop also steals light which is in short supply in this lighting. Distance from the foreground object IS YOUR FRIEND. Getting too close and you’ll never be able to focus both objects. The timing/lighting for this sort of capture is of very short duration. A few minutes, once a month at most. The moon has to be in close far perspective with almost anything to be a great shot out of the gate. Enjoy the pursuit. This is one of my favorite Close far perspectives. Getting in focus grass against the moon in low light is sort of a difficult thing to do.
I’ve officially declared this last Monday of 2019 Moon Monday. As such I will post 6 of my favorite moon images elsewhere on facebook. Over the day. This morning at 6 AM was the first. This is the 9AM entry.
The Pink “Belt of Venus” variety of Alpenglow consists of ice illuminated by red light. That light made it through hundreds of miles of similarly ice filled atmosphere. Only the red light makes it through. Here the timing is such that the red is also gracing the “Red Hills” (their real name). Make’s one wonder how those hills got their name.😜Most folks out east would call them Mountains. We live basically at the same elevation (4000 ft) as the sun line on those hills. There is a 40 mile wide river valley draining into Montana between us. Those hills are a far bit down yonder….
The full moon that morning was too late setting that day for me to nab it’s photons while in the Belt of Venus. 😔
I would say right out of the gate that making cow pies in a scene an integral part of an amazing image I trapped out in our west corrals is a skill lol. 📷 This environment is RIGHT at sunrise ongoing over my shoulder. The cattle are standing in shadow where the tips of the “Red Hill” are getting illuminated. Our place is in morning shade for about 20 minutes after sunrise. There is a big ridge to our east (Ridge 1) that I work photographically for it’s 180 miles skies east-west.
These are Corriente’ Longhorns. The lineage was first imported into the Americas in 1493. They are tough guys and olympic quality athletes all. They take very little care but go where they want to. Fences are just inconvenient to them if they really want to go through. They use those horns. Smaller Corriente’s boss much larger cattle around easily and routinely.