So I wake up the other morning and much to my surprise, was a local pyramidal hillock that was blowing it’s top. The steam was rising, the cauldron boiling. I anticipate pyroclastic flows, lahars, glowing red hot clouds and other volcanic manifestations similar to what buried Pompeii. Ash should start falling any moment. Maybe “Sneaky Pete” the windmill will save the day and blow the ash away…
Back to my normal programming: Geologic Musings:
OK, this is NOT a volcano. It takes a properly positioned camera lol. Those are normal clouds up in the sky. Yellowstone is not blowing up. The Devil’s Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck field about 50 miles to my southeast has not reactivated. No, the Laramide Orogeny has not started back up just yet.
That Butte (called Mitten Butte), is made of layers of river sands stacked on top of one another. The volcanic shape is a result of a hard cap rock which resisted erosion better than every thing else between it and myself. All that rock has been removed by erosion. It is a erosive remnant of all the material that used to surround the hill. Hundreds of feet if not thousands of feet (depending on your location) of sediment has been removed around here. Remember Devils Tower? That used to be a mile or so deep. Now it sticks up 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. That river system essentially removed enough material to expose the harder tower. Same process here except just the top of the hill is harder rock.
Here “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill is doing what he does best, get into my landscapes. I have no control over his actions…..😎 (years old narrative).🤣
The window to the Big Horn Mountains from my ranch has 130 miles of atmosphere between my high ridge location and those 13,000 foot high peaks… I see them maybe once a week. It was windy but this is still a 1/15th second time exposure in order to blur the windmill sail.
This was a missed post so I manually posted this this AM. I’m not sure how I screwed it up but here I am working live and not a week out lolol.
This view of a BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder was taken a week ago as this posts. Th grassy remote ridgetop I was on, gives way to the Little Powder RIver Valley. The next ridge is the Red Hills backed by the 13000 foot high peaks of the core of the BigHorn Mountain Uplift. The Powder RIver Basin between the Mountains any my ranch pretty much ends at my ranch. I’m living right on the edge between the Wyoming Black Hills and the Powder River basin. Just west of my ranch, dinosaur fossil Bearing rock that is older than the Big Horn Uplift dive under the sediments worn off the BigHorn Mountains.
Our Ranch is as high topograpically above the Little Powder River Valley Floor as the dark 40 mile distant ridge. It allows me to see the peaks at this 130 mile distance. Weather windows to the BigHorns have been plentiful this year unlike previous ones. The sun is currently setting well south of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next spring again. The sun will continue to set a little more south each day until December 21’st. Then t starts to rise and set a little further north each day until the Summer Solstice.
I try to be very in tune to such things as my daily photographic activities take into account moon rise, sunsets with the time of year. Angles of sunrise and sunset are critical to where I go these days. Weather has the greatest impact of course.
Moon Resting on Wolf’s Head Butte is one of my favorite Moon “Cradle” capture.
Satire: I’ve found that the Moon will often take just a second to rest on a comfortable spot before the effort to rise to it’s zenith. Some of these buttes have what I call “Moon cradles” where the moon can settle down for a moment. Fortunately, it never sits there for long. 😜😜
Back to my normal programming.
Getting terrestrial objects in focus along with the moon…. Be still my heart. It’s a hobby of mine within my larger photographic world catching the moon resting on things. I do get some requests for information on how to do this.
In a nutshell, you need a 400 -600mm 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.
Twilight Over Turtle Butte is a capture from the Montana/Wyoming border. That line is 45 degrees north Latitude exactly, which runs right through that hill.
Its called turtle butte for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not much on that hill. There have been scattered dinosaur chunky chunks but alas, no amazing finds there. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.
Up here in the borderlands I find a variety of things just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. There were no big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.
There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover better ground that way. Everyone walks the trail…
Layered BigHorn Mountain Landscape: It’s mid-November and a HUGE hay crop was everywhere in this country. Still picking them up this late in the year. Boy there are still a lot of haybales to move. I caught the a hydraulically equipped hay truck stopped long enough to take this 1 second exposure. They had been at this all day and it was pretty dark and were still hauling. There were hundreds to pick up this year.
This of course is a time exposure as it were. I consider anything longer than 1/4 second a time exposure best done on a tripod or some support. You can take photos like this free handed but your ISO is going to have to be so high that you’ll get grain on your image. A minimum handheld speed is about 1/100th with a telephoto so your going to have to compensate for the lack of light somehow. Turning up camera sensitivity? This will unfortunately give you larger grain to your image and add noise to the color. It will however bring an image in. The first rule of photography is get the shot. The second rule is get it right !.
Longer time exposures give your camera a chance to gather light the easy way. You always want as LOW and ISO as you can get away with. Low light images like this look wonderful if done on a tripod. Not so much hand held. I use a clamp on my car window with my favorite tripod head on it that mates to my cameras.
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.
This is the first of 2 images I’ll post from this timeline . Remember that at sunset, the sun is actually moving sideways to the right but not quite as fast as the sun is dropping. (the horizon is actually rising). We are spinning on an axis that is tilted over 20 degrees to the Ecliptic so the sun travels at a 20 degree down angle as we spin. It me a few minutes to work out exactly where to be for this sunset. I’ll post the next image in this timeline of this Sun Settling on the BigHorns tomorrow.
Research/google the word “Ecliptic”. It is an important concept to be able to figure out opportunities as they “line up” lol. I traveled about a mile from my house for this one. I’ve been pursuing this all week. The weather window for my limited opportunity for this line up has been open all but 2 days so far. I have about another 3 or 4 days I can work this . There are so many good images from this totally nutty sky above the 13000 feet high mountain range.
I forgot to mention that I’m 130 miles distant from those peaks and that the range looks small in perspective to the sun. The sun doesn’t change size (get smaller very much as I drive to the east to get further from it. However the mountains will continue to get smaller until I can’t see them if I keep driving. (Make sense?) Further away, small mountains, sun is the same apparent size as long as I stay on the earth lol.
“That’s No Moon” is a classical quote an early Star Wars Movie. If you know the reference, you could be my friend 😜 Every special operator ever minted knows it lolol. You know who you are.
The far Ridge is the northern Big Horn Mountain Range at 130 miles out , it cuts the moon off a bit above the green treed ridge. That ridge is the Red Hills at 40 miles from my camera. The foreground landscape is about 8 miles out from my camera.
This is moon set not rise so technically the quote above wouldn’t apply lol. There is only a few opportunities a month for images as this. Mostly you just can’t see the moon through all the hazy atmosphere at the horizon.
I’m actually looking across the Montana/Wyoming border to get this angle. I was indeed lining up that foreground mountain hump with the hump of the moon. I actually think about abstract stuff like that but it does get over demanding this bad case of OCD I have. lololol.
Winds Over the Big Horns Kicking up a Ground Blizzard:
I don’t see this very often either. Actively viewing the 130 intervening miles of landscape is difficult. These massive peaks are typically shrouded by mists and cloud covering . This is actually a night shot. The sun having set several minutes prior to this click. The sun’s influence though is still brightly illuminating the Blowing Snow. That is being kicked up by the hurricane winds. Hard to see blowing snow Up high on the Big Horns up on those 13,000 feet high peaks and backlighting all that isn’t easy lol.
That is a tough environment up there lol. Winds over the Bighorns are definitely making some snow drifts up high in this capture. I’m limited seeing these distant peaks by weather and clouds usually…Not so much this night lol. It’s totally cloudless but for the ground blizzard on the peaks.
Catching the sun setting behind the Big Horns has been a bucket list item of mine for 20 years. By coincidence I have never been able to get this angle and weather to cooperate.. I had to drive 10 miles south to get it this time… As the sun sets each day a little bit left, as I travel right, it keeps the sun still on the range as I move positions northward. Finding a spot to actually see over that high intervening ridge (Red Hills) , is not as easy.
Hopefully I’ll get lucky again this year and get a second chance at this alignment. A majority of the time, I can’t see the range at this distance due to the aforementioned weather window.
This was taken on the pass to RockyPoint Wyoming on Trail Creek Road.
This is far northern Campbell Country Wyoming about 5 miles from Montana. It is 40 miles to the first dark ridge in the image. 800mm telephotos help a lot :). This is a VERY small area of the sky I’m photographing here. Hold a small postage stamp at the end of your reach and that is the size of this photo against the entire sky. 😜
Here is a single Mountain Blue Bird on a Yucca Frond (stick lol). . These guys are mostly elusive to me but this one put on a show for me within pretty close telephoto range. It was nice of him and I do appreciate the photo session. It’s the only one of it’s kind I’ve ever experienced. . 🙏
These 6 inch long one ounce birds don’t make much noise in my experience but a little in the morning. Hard to describe. They are fairly small Thrushes with a round head outline and straight thin bills. Sky blue is how I describe the color but are a bit darker on the wings and tail but with a light patch under the tail and it’s stomach. These guys hoover while foraging for insects. I’ve seen it many times. This guy was jumping around this Yucca Flower frond as seen and zipping about and then back to this place.
He was putting on a considerably good show for me in my portable blind (my jeep) while I had just crested a hilltop in the backcountry. He was flitting around this Yucca like it was a toddler on a sugar high. I just by happenstance had an 800mm camera set up with me that I grabbed off the seat for the fairly close encounter. Several other Males were in the area pretty much just watching the aerobatic display I think as I was … amazed at it’s abilities. They hoover to catch bugs so they have mastered their environment for sure.
We are actually a little low at 4000 feet in elevation for them as they are found to 11000 feet up in the hills. The do like our grasslands though. Lots of bugs out there for them to eat…. Good habitat for most insect eaters.
Hope your being safe this Sunday. Get out and enjoy the weather if you can…..
Moon on the Rocks is a capture off the top of a local butte. Capturing the Moon and terrestrial objects in the same focal plain is a hobby of mine as I’ve said before. I only get roughly 2 days a month of this opportunity so 24 days a year at best. Usually the weather doestn’ cooperate and seldom is the seeing so good as to have the details sharp so low in the atmosphere. That old atmospheric lens distorts the details so readily, nights like this are a gift to me. No haze, no distortion and a rock outcrop far enough away AND at the right angle….Click !!!
Moon shot Photographic Musings: Taking an image like this is an exercise in getting distance and topography to line up for you. Distance from the hills is a big deal….. Your working your camera on Manual now right?? 🙏 Highest f-stop on the lens is your first setting. (your priority). High fstop gives you a Chance at focusing both the terrestrial Hill top AND the moon in the same image. Deep focus is the only way to do this.. Your other two settings ISO and shutter speed are easy since you set your shutter speed next to the maximum you can hold the camera steady at say 1/30th of a second for a rested camera and your holding the body or use a tripod (be quick cause the moon moves). Tripod moon shots can be a second long (unless your tracking) with the moon if you have a very high fstop and a low ISO (camera sensitivity). The ISO is the last thing you adjust to bring your image into view and ideally into perfection. Mirrorless cameras are easier than DSLR’s to figure this out with so if your just starting with cameras and your buying, buy a mirrorless. You get to see your settings work live real time before you click unlike a modern DSLR camera that you look at the image you just took AFTER the click. No direct light path to the eye as your looking at a video screen inside the camera. You now know all I know about this 🤔
I hope your Monday is going well. I’ve been on computer since 5AM😎…. Mixed Skies but sunrise looks to be a clear sky (boring) sunrise so I’ll stay in and do digital darkroom work (12 degrees outside).
This sliver of Moon setting over the 40 mile distant “Red Hills” from my vantage point was the last setting/bit of the full Hunter moon this year. This is deep in twilight and was a very dark environment. This is actually a 1 second time exposure. There really wasn’t much light from that moon sliver…. It was still pretty dark with these pro Sony cameras just being able to make out the landscape.
Normally, the amount of light put out by the moon lighting up the clouds around it all the way down but you can’t capture that with current technology…. It’s pretty hard to get that in the camera unless you have something to filter out most the moon light. Here I’m using a ridge to balance the difference between the two light levels. The moon isn’t overwhelming the faint glow from the clouds with this little sliver. A “Ridge Filter” so to speak. Got the glow in the clouds😄
I have a sub-hobby within my larger Photographic activities of taking photos of the Moon carefully positioned around terrestrial objects, all in focus, here trapped by the Trees……. Tonight I will post 3 moon images in various forums lol.
The moon must be a slippery fellow since he obviously got out of this well planned trap by those trees. Surrounded and it got away. Escape and evasion exemplified!🤣
I took a trip to Sheridan Wyoming and it was Wagons West to the Bighorns. It’s about 40 miles of mostly maintained gravel roads and another 70 of two lane backcountry Wyoming Highways to get there from here. It’s an extra hour to go to Gillette and over by Interstate to there.
The Autumn Colors are in full bloom now though I’m too low and dry here for the Aspens to be quaking about. They are mostly up the “hill” a bit.
This whole landscape taken yesterday (a week ago as this posts)) is today totally covered with snow.
I’m not going that way anytime soon now lol.
Location about 20 miles from Sheridan on Rt 14/16 heading west
Locally this “Pyramidal Hill” is known as Mitten Butte. The Yellow Alpenglow behind on this Frosty Morning was captured a bit more than a week ago as the image just now made it to the web and gallery.. Twilight Landscapes are all dark…because they were/are 😁
A good word to look up would be “Monadnock” Great word of the day.
Geologically this hill is an erosional remnant, still standing when all the material/sediment around it was washed away. A hard cap rock and being at the top of the drainage made this possible. I’ve been to the top 3 times in 20 years. I do have photos somewhere lolol. There is no road up there as it is state land. The only way up is to hoof it. It’s about 300 feet higher than the base. IT’s Lance formation but no dinosaurs or fossil microsites that I saw and I have pretty much walked it all. . Because it’s state land, it is illegal to disturb any vertebrate remains I would have found. I saw some small pieces of vertebrate materials but nothing worth telling the state geologist about. I just wanted the viewpoint to see what was up there. Big view and not much but harder rocks than lower down the slope. All sandstones/mudstones and silts. Cretaceous river sediments is all that hill contains. No mystic Pyramid or Volcano, home for aliens or some other exotic purpose. Just a pile of hardened sand/mud/silt.
Location: Hardly a mile from Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
“Rising from the “Peak” Knowing where the sun will rise is an advantage. 10 miles out, this peak was a difficult one to “line up”. Topography is king and controls where and when I can do this kind of alignment. I have several places that do line up at two very specific day interval (about 5) where I can take this photo once in the fall and once in the spring. I run out of ground to stand on either side of those weeks as the sun migrates with the season lolol. I haven’t figured out how to levitate yet but I’m working on it…. 🤣
An amazing sky that morning. Lots of good captures from it :). Getting in the right position in early twilight is sometimes interesting driving in the dark off road in the backcountry.