I’m walking along this ridge line way back up into the borderland backcountry of Wyotana. I see this scene developing. That is NOT water dripping off that injured pine tree. That is pine sap and it is dripping in SUPER slow motion at these temperatures lol . The Pine Sap extrudes on any external injury by the pine. This will keep out insects from penetrating the wound. This of course is part of the process insect/pinesap to Amber made famous in the Movie Jurassic Park. Tree resin traps insects, it gets hardened by heat and pressure over time and you get an insect in Amber. Fossilization requires specialized conditions. Amber formation must occur in a wet low oxygen environment. Something like an estuarine, swampy or even a marine environments. (chew on that last one for a while). 😜🤔👀
Stripped of bark, this injury caused by a Porcupine will likely not heal. Particularly if it is deep enough an injury. Porcupines strip bark off Pine trees. Porcupine is from the french translation of “Thorny Pig”. They eat roots, stems leaves of many plants but definitely consume and even kill trees by girdling a trees bark. I have seen numerous trees killed by porcupines. The mountain men used to not bother them. Being slow moving, easy to catch animals, as such were easy pickings. So the mountain men saved them for Hard times and emergencies. Porcupines are greasy when cooked I understand. I’ve never wanted to skin one lolol. 2:1 Aspect
I am up on one of the highest points around for this capture. It was quite windy at that moment. That shakes your camera… hardly helpful lolol. Ridgetops are terrible spots for exposure to the relentless wind.
Overlooking the Little Powder River Valley 40 miles to the Red Hills all the way to my lens. The hill is known on ranch as “RattleSnake Ridge” or just “Rattlesnake”. . Someone blew up a rattlesnake den up here in the 1970’s is the story for the name of where I’m standing. The ridge between the camera view to the far Range is part of the “Prairie Dog Hills”. This is a view almost directly west along the MT/WY border. Both State in the frame.
The Distant Red Hills earn their name. Because of the far ridges tendency to literally be red in the morning. The pink Belt of Venus often drops down from the sky to the hills themselves. That color band drops opposite the rising sun covering the peaks. The red color reflects off of the already red rocks making up the ridge line. (“Clinker Geology” is a good google phrase).
Here the sun had just set behind the distant ridge 5 minutes prior to me turning my lens to this scene. The other side of the ridge is quite red and still illuminated. I am sure of it lol. What I see on that ridge in the morning, is what someone on the other side sees in the evening. Highlights. Here I’m in it’s shadow. Position and topography are my masters.
A Close/Far perspective from the viewpoint of a deer bedded on the forest floor. Under the shelter of the old growth pines, the deer would be safe from any snow that would be falling short of blowing snow. . The forest litter was varied and haphazardly dispersed around the bottom of the old growth. All under control of wind/water and gravity. Other Deer beds were nearby where the pine needles gathered in quantity. Evidence of cattle is present and causes one to be careful where you lay down to take such a capture.
There are thousands of little areas of “zen” around. It’s a matter of seeing/finding them. Capturing them is a little harder but this kind of perspective is actually kind of rare from me. I usually wait until it’s snowy to do images as this. I might go find this very spot again under white conditions with a sunset. Many of the great masters would paint the same scene over and over again under different conditions. I’ll never be a great master but I’m willing to travel in their paths.
We call these high ridges that I work photographically, “Little Siberia” which is appropriate as we usually have snow when others around us living lower don’t. We get some good winds up this high. I’ve had a recorded 78mph gust here back in 2012 I think. We get 60mph winds several times a summer. It’s natures way of tree trimming in the backcountry. Now it’s just plain cold lolol.
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.
Let me start of by saying I LOVE trees growing out of rocks/boulders. This area on our ranch has a few trees demonstrating this phenomena. Where they grow the roots break up the much larger rocks under them into smaller rocks. I’m slowly starting to make a map of these in my head to refer to when the lighting is right. Heavily veiled skies as above are really good for doing perspectives and frames with foreground objects as this. Trees have their own attractions of course being the natural frames that they create are often better than the sunset/rise behind them lolol.
This is a view of the “Red Hills” (Their real Name). 40 miles distant on the horizon looking almost straight west.. Being a very wide angle lens capture, those hills on the horizon appear smaller here than they would look live. Your eye is naturally equivalent to a 55 mm lens. This image is at least 90 degrees wide at 24mm .
The scene in the sky was actually quite bright which made it hard for even the best camera technology to get the detail in the shadows. I run into technological brick walls all the time working outside or on the edge of the envelope of the light I see up here. Mostly my solution for it is to expose the highlights correctly and worry about the shadows in the digital dark room.
I drive a lot of backcountry during sunrise and sunset. Every time I get a chance, I walk about and see what I can see. . The natural curves and angles that I run into create a fabric through which I shoot the back ground. The curve on the branch, approaching the curve of the hill. The crossed branches drawing your eye to the center of the visual tunnel this creates. All fodder for my photon capture boxes 👀.
The branches here form a natural letter x (which i have several of now). I am always looking for natural letters in my walks. Some days I cover WAY more ground than others. It depends of the weather of course and the lighting. If I am actually working, I made a decision several hours before to be in place for the sunrise/sunset. Good photography requires that you actually be there with a camera when the light is worthy of chasing. Having a map in my head of where all the “attractions” are helps but random meetings like this stop me in my tracks.
Random backcountry captures happen because of paying dues. You have to be there with a camera in your hand to get some of those moments in space and time. They are fleeting, you often only have moments to capture them before the light changes. The more you carry a camera (s) around, the more cool captures your going to get. 📷
Winter leaves a few nice scenes to offer me out in the backcountry. I have so many choices where to point my cameras. There are certain basic photographics principles one wants to follow. I am always trying to adhere to those rules. There is a strong rule of thirds here both horizonally and vertically. The old masters discovered visual tunnels of which I’m always on the lookout for. Framed here by the totally frosted pine “noodled” tree. The Visual tunnel to the mountains 40 miles distant is just above center. Every thing I saw through the eyepiece of my camera said “Click”. So I clicked lol.
Those are the “Red Hills” off in the distance. We actually have more snowthan in this image as I type this. Even the grass is coated with ice in this capture. Any surface that was exposed to the wind had freezing fog stick to it’s surface. Coating everything.
This beautiful hillside that I’m standing on is very close to precisely 1/2 way between the equator and the North Pole. A long walk either way lolol. Its exactly 5,000,000 (Five Million) meters from this hillside to either point. Some well connected person in history decided 1 meter would be 1/10,000,000 of the distance from the north Pole to the Equator. You can covert 10 million meters into Ten Thousand Kilometers though. 45 degrees north latitude precisely. This also corresponds to the line that IS the Montana / Wyoming border.
Layers of landscape are always fun to find. The sun is so bright here that it overwhelms the light from the silhouetted areas.
Satire: The veiled sky three miles out into the backcountry here at “Re Pete’s” (the windmill’s) territory. He roams open country and does his best to photobomb my landscapes. Sometimes the only way I can get away is to go back in the timber. Windmills can’t follow you back in the Timber with those sail in the way. I no control over their actions 😜😜
Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite). 🤛🤘 But don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this.
I don’t take as many windmill photos in the winter now that snow is covering many of my paths. We had several inches of blowy snow yesterday up on the ridges.
Good news is, my new ride (F150) is in Nebraska traveling on a semi, due next week at our local dealer. I ordered it Oct 3 and it was a 2020 so it is certainly one of the first off the assembly line. Give the dealer a week to prep it by putting on the dealer installed accessories So about a week from when this posts…just before xmas, some of my shots will be from several feet higher perspective. Stay tuned lolol. My first new truck in 15 years. I’m looking forward to a better ride quality as well as clearance/snow capabilities I haven’t had with my Jeep Grand Cherokee.
In a few more years, I’ll be showing you branch details with the sunset. Cameras will exceed our eyes abilities within the decade would be my prediction.
I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines. Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective.
There is SO much going on here. I assume I’m looking through the “eye” but what to level?…. The far horizon which indeed is a climbing ridge to the left. Perhaps grassy ridge I’m on that dominates the layers game or the far horizon. Quandary. Tilting the camera would have ruined the illusion and I actually like the angle in this. It is a big bad thing in photography to have a distant horizon level with the image. The perspective of the grass highlights leaning left, the big level grass table horizonal leading to the right leaning far horizon and sky. wow, this is busy with the close and far thing too.
I JUST got what appears to be a good tilt shift lens set up for my Sony full frame cameras. Stay tuned for some perspectives this winter as I bring this optic tool to bear. Tilt shift is a new game for me. I think I understand the possibilities with it. I’m going to have fun with this technology making perspectives. I will explain more as I get images to share. Stay tuned.
Using really Wide lenses attempts to fit everything into the frame. Here a Sony Alpha 7RII is wearing a 10 mm lens. It sees well over 120 degrees wide or tall (1/3rd of a complete circle). So your looking at roughly a fourth of the whole sky/vista)Reach for the Sky is what this old growth Jack Pine grove is doing. Small grass fires don’t bother these trees much. They do get hit by lightning quite a bit as many of these old soldiers have scars from shocking encounters.
Wide lenses add a little distortion to an image on the edges. I can correct for this in the digital darkroom but just a bit of perspective is a good thing . 👁👁When ever I get a veiled southwestern sunset, I head for this ridgeline. Known on ranch (and here in my narratives) as “Ridge 1” . It runs for about 6 miles across the landscape. Fortunately for me, it is parallel to 5 other north/south trending ridges that allow me to work terrain. I am able to find little areas of Zen up there.
Ridgeline Photography : Mini Course
Using a veiled sun as a focal point under a cathedral ceiling is an easy landscape subject lol. Usually I’m moving from place to place looking for a confluence of angles and alignments in the landscape. I stop, get the “shot” and move on looking for another “alignment”.. Sunset doesn’t last forever. Knowing when to leave and move on is 1/2 of this game. Objects that create “Leading Lines” that draw your eye (like the trees pointing to the cathedral) or an angled hillside and tree line setting up a “wedge” or a triangle in the image. All pointing to the sun main “hero” of the image (the sun).
A good image needs “heros” (plural) to not be just a “snapshot”. Lots of “heros” in this image. Composition, using the characteristics of your lenses (using that distortion to add appeal to the image) The sun, the sky the trees, each is it’s own interest in the image.
Satire: In Tolkien’s masterwork, the Living Trees are known as “Ents”. They walk and talk and generally care for the trees in the forest as their shepherds. Here the “Ents” Catch and Release Policy is demonstrated by a young cousin of “Treebeard” . (Classical Reference)
Halloween brings out Ents, many of which roam the Wyoming/Montana borderlands). While he was reaching up practicing the newly negotiated “Catch and Release” program. The Moon indeed did get away from the touchy feely young “Ent”. “Sneaky Pete” the windmill was responsible for the negotiations I understand but that is just local gossip and I wouldn’t be one to spread a rumor 🎃 .
Just think, if that “Ent” didn’t let the moon go, how many things would become haywire….. The oceans would become sloshy and off it’s time base for tides. It would be a BIG disruption of lunar charts etc….. “Sneaky Pete” the windmill apparently prevented all that. We own him much but we will see how long the Ents “hold” to this policy😂
There was just enough light left over from the setting sun to drag some detail out of the rocks grass and trees in the foreground. This actually takes some light to do. Because the moon is so bright, cameras have trouble looking into the darkenss around them. Silhouettes are easy. Getting details in this kind of light is an entirely difficult thing to do unless the sun is actually up. It wasnt here and this is using twilight light to capture the shadow details. Under the category of photographic challenges. Also I’d love to see a cellphone image of something like this. I’m thinking they shouldn’t operate in this kind of environment but I love being proven wrong. They make some amazing cameras on the little lenses these days. .
Perspective is indeed Everything (#5) from the Pines POV was captured last January as I had plowed about 2 miles of backcountry trail so as to get me up on the ridges so I could work the landscapes up there. The snow was deep last year. It supposed to snow tonight (this is being set up LAST friday to be posted today.) You’ll know by the time this hits FB lolol. I think we are only supposed to get an inch or so. Just a brush by old man winter but he’s dancing right around the corner.
ALL weather happened about 3 weeks late here this year. Wettest year I remember, green still grass growing….. Never had to : Fill the fire truck and we watered the grass for 2 days one week….. Unheard of.
Perspective is indeed Everything, #4 Pine Needles was a really cold morning but it was a pretty sunrise and crawling out into the pines seemed like a good idea at the time🤔 We actually have 4 inches of snow on the ground here today and expect several more days of it.
This posts the first day of October, gonna freeze anyway. Bye mosquitos 🙂 All the hoses are put away, all the winterizing done. Oct 1. It’s going to be a long cold snowy winter lasting about a decade (my predicition). (We nickname our ranch which is generally located on a series of high ridges much higher than the surrounding ground, is “Little Siberia”. We often have snow when those around us don’t as we are on the “highpoint” togographically locally around 4000 feet in elevation. The surrounding draining goes 3500. We’re 50 stories up above the river valley and it get’s cold here. ….. Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
Running into a Prickly Porcupine and taking its “Picture” is always a sticky situation for a least one of us. Fortunately, this is a trail camera capture in nearly pitch black. The hard part is deciding WHERE to put the camera…… (hint look for tracks)