So I’m on a high Hill top, more or less on the local top of the world. There are a few higher points around but they are a good drive across open backcountry. Looking across the Wyoming / Montana border into Montana Sky with Wyoming Land under my feet. A VERY wide shot in excess of 90 degrees wide, this capture is about 1/4 of the sky in one image. This was a marvelous evening with very little smoke in the middle of a month + of worse smoke. We do get a day here and there of late without too much Pall. We have largely been spared from the worst of this. Having said that tonight as I type, the air is much worse than any night I remember. You couldn’t see see across this field late this after noon.
This is of course the backshow from this sunset. I have to constantly remind myself to look over my shoulder as the main show is often captivating. I have to say the lighting was only slightly red for a change this particular evening. I have been doing photography for a full month in overly red colorcast lighting so this seem pretty minimal. Considering the filtering effect of the smoke eliminating most of the blue from the light reaching the ground from the horizon. The sky overhead was blue because the light reaching there didn’t go through smoke. Blue only penetrates so far through the atmosphere before it’s filtered away. The smoke makes that happen much faster than your average evening in Wyotana.
The cloud on the horizon is the top of tall Mesocyclone (a really big storm). The intervening Ridges BARELY illuminated by the veiled sunset ongoing behind me. The sun was throwing very long shadows effected by the cloud cover over my shoulder. There was a storm behind me too. This storm is at least 80 miles distant. Certainly it covered eastern Wyoming, South Dakota, and a sliver of Montana. It’s Twin to the left is off frame and standing over the Montana / South Dakota / North Dakota tristate area. There were several of these huge monsters rumbling across the prairie that night.
The centers of these large thunderstorm complexes are 2 to 9 miles in diameter. They are huge spinning tops rotating about those spinning complex with a top cap many tens of miles across. They are land hurricanes of sorts. A weather engine powered by solar heating of the land. Rising hot humid air hits higher colder air which causes it to condense. This starts a rotation as the energy builds through out the day. By they time they get this big, they are in the small nuclear bomb range of energy levels. These are potentially very dangerous indeed with the cast of dangers they possess. Lightning, Hail and Flash Flooding are the major threats. It pays to be on the west side of these storms as the danger has passed at that point. Prayers to those underneath the right real quarter of the storm.
A smokey rain bow for sure but I have more captures from this timeline of interest to be posted shortly.
I start this narrative by saying this is a VERY WIDE image. It exceeds 90 degrees wide or 1/4 of the sky. The Sun is EXACTLY behind me along with a whole forest worth of smoke from the west coast. The sunlight at this late daylight hour traveling through hundreds of miles of haze with particulates. From September of 2020, many local’s took photos of this rainbow. I was on an ATV at the time. “Clever Girl” was tied up to a trailer. I had just returned home from town on a trip to get poultry feed for my small paddling of domestic ducks and clutch of chickens. IT was raining, I was on an ATV (with a roof but no doors/windows). A box -o-cameras on the seat. Just a cotton jacket.
Having just come home from town, I had taken a shower. Upon a quick dress in fresh ranch clothes, I looked out the window, grabbed my gear and the first vehicle available to me. Fortunately I didn’t take much more of a shower nor did my gear. The storm had just passed so as to leave me mostly high and dry.
This double rainbow is likely the last I will see this year. Images of bright doubles are usually colorcast. Only the latest day rainbows are this wide as you are seeing almost 1/2 of the entire rainbow. Remember that from the viewpoint of an airplane a few thousand feet up.. a rainbow is a complete circle. Earlier in the day, you only get a small section of the whole circle. As the sun sets, the circle is HUGE. This was HUGE. Positioned here across the Montana / Wyoming border with the left leg being in Montana, the right in Wyoming.
Talk about pot belly lol. This is certainly a doe that is properly positioned in her world. She has learned to take advantage of the resources offered to her. Our ranch is full of edible plants (to them anyway) and is well watered. She is in a pretty good place with most of the top level predation under control.
Caught her looking up. I had to make some noise to break her focus on the ground. The sun was setting and I had places to be. Deer are less than cooperative to my will usually. I hope they do one thing, they do another. It’s a 50/50 chance most of the time. Fortunately these wild critters tolerate me well in my black pickup (Clever Girl). Having seen me many times out on the ranch land. I thought her expression was priceless….
Note: A fairly big black bear was just taken by a local rancher while it was eating a cow in the backcountry. Less than 10 miles from here just over what I call ridge 4…. Kudos to that ranch. We share the same backcountry with that ranch to the east. I really love being deep into a dinosaur pit with my butt up in the air around here. Makes one a little paranoid…. At the homestead, two decades and no bears…. A bear probably wouldn’t like the electric fence we keep around our facility at all. It has discouraged most creatures touching it since it’s inception lol.
I see the light. Light has a tendency to travel in a straight line unless acted upon. Usually this is by passing through a change in media such as air to water. This refracts the light. As I was carefully wandering in the twilight dusk along a high ridge. I was scanning for imaginary faces in the silhouette. (This image having many for you Pareidoliacs out there).
Having huge deep boulders on the skyline usually makes anthropomorphic imaginings easy. This scene froze me in my tracks. The spot of orange light in the black on the low right is actually showing THROUGH the boulder field. Talk about a gauntlet/light filter lol. I’m not used to seeing straight lines through rocks. My geologic background caused OCD kicks in lolol.
I was walking around with the wrong camera upon first happenstance to see this. “Clever Girl” was up the hill about 4 stories. Climbed up and traded cameras, climbed back down. (Got to stay in shape to do this stuff). I figured I was never going to find the exact same place in 3-D space again. I went back to roughly the same spot with this lens, found the “zone” and clicked. It was visible in a little window about 2 feet by 2 feet. Move outside that box and I couldn’t see it.
It’s an obvious metaphor. Simply put: “Seeing the light is looking at JUST the right angle at the right time. “
Here the well risen moon had a window to my part of the world through a break in the storm system moving through. Those are REALLY big clouds at over 40 miles out. The rain under them is covering Devils’ Tower way under their base. I wish It was visible as it would give a much better scale for the size of these storms.
This was late in the day around mid-golden hour (about 7 pm in August). The talk is there will be snow in Wyoming this weekend. Hopefully we will have a wet fall which could moderate next year considerably by killing off grasshoppers. They don’t do well in wet. Prefer dry years it seems. I mean if your going to have a drought, you might as well have bugs eat all the grass that’s left lolol.
There was close to a 2 inch rain on this ridge with lots of water running in the local creeks. In the rain/hail mix was marble sized hail. I tried to get out of it’s way. The hail shaft seemed to follow me and went right over me. Trying really hard to be a distant observer of this stuff, it’s harder when there are a 1/2 dozen hail shafts moving through the area. Some places get rain, others get nothing. Usually the areas that gets wet. Getts really wet lolol.
Location, Near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
This is the third image in this Huge Storms Time line that I’ve published. Several double bolt shots were taken of this storm. What really stands out on my 27 inch computer screen….. That loop of clouds on the far left side of the frame stands out big time to me. It is a perfect chain hook for this storm. I’d say the bottom of this huge slowly spinning stop is 15 miles across and the top was 40 or 50 miles across. Still small at this capture, 2 hours later it ran over the Devil’s Tower area. I have images of Hail Slathering the Tower from the hail coming off the back of this storm. The separate shafts off the right side of the storm consists of mostly hail surrounded by rain.
You want to avoid the back of these storms as getting under one will get you slathered in hail. Hail can be 5 inches or so. That would be a bad thing. In 2008 we had some soft ball hail cause 150 grand of damage on our place. This year 1/2 hour of chickens egg sized ice with a few bigger did over 1/4 million in damage. Next year we will be replacing 47000 thousand square feet of roofing. That is our ranch headquarters just this side of the north part of the storm by about 15 miles. It went past us and left us untouched but we got little rain. We need the rain but not the hail. Picky, picky, picky…..
IT was/is VERY dry out. It has been in the 90’s for an extended period. Precipitation has been low all year. In HUGE contrast to the previous year.
A long day ended and an instant after I closed my eyes it seemed. Out of the night I was awakened by the rumble in the distance through the walls of my homestead. Generally being pretty quiet up here but for the roosters in the morning, I sat up to take notice. My fire watch instinct kicked in… On went the fire resistant pants and wool socks. I get to the porch all dressed up…. It started to rain…. pretty well.😜
Lightning flashed every 5 or 10 seconds but most of it was not visible to me where I stood. My window under a metal roof this night was fairly limited by the wind. I hesitate to put expensive gear out where left unattended, it might get knocked over or soaked. So I keep it close. I do keep a properly built “ground ring about my homestead. In 2 decades of living here. I’ve never had a lightning strike come into the house. I learned to build “ground rings” after building several Ham Radio Shacks and a communications tower on hill tops. Burying copper wire or water pipe recycled is a good way to get a proper path to ground before ground currents get you. It’s always better to have the best ground outside your place.
As the late summer / early fall progresses into full brown season. I still see just a stripe of green (ish) across the middle of this large field of stunted grown grass.
The Pronghorn Herd traversing the grassy field were in a moderate hurry. I find that as a group, they are synergistically more jumpy than a single animal. Even individual mothers with fawns are easier to approach than a herd. If just ONE of the animals doesn’t like what they see… One jumps and all go. Them deciding which is might as well be random. I’m assuming the presence of my truck traveling down the gravel road 400 yards out spooked them. They were running parallel to me, not the other direction. They eventually race to cross the road in front of me as I had to stop to catch this. 4 wheel disk breaks on 35 inch tires stop pretty quickly but the truck takes a few seconds to dampen down the rock back from the stop.
As soon as the truck slowed down, the Pronghorn must have perceived a sign of weakness. They instantly turned to run in front of my truck. I’m thinking they were just showing off. Nothing like being the fastest animal in North America. I’ve clocked them at close to 50 before. Hard to tell exactly. I’m sure someone got one on a radar gun. The official record is 61mph. A cheetah can max out at 80. Good things there are no cheetah’s left in North America after the Megafauna die off after the last ice age. Climate changes in the past…
Speaking of weather: (Like that segue??)😜 Locally, the warmest June or July in a long time. Very dry as well with only .6 inches of rain in June. A lot of the country is a tinderbox as those in California know all too well. Last summer was wet and lush through late August. Wyotana Bi-Polar climate…. Remember that ALL climate is local. The earth has no climate. It has all climates. Multiple personalities as it were….🤔
Bee Flies are Harmless to humans as they do not bite. I have only seen this species a few times and they are “Flighty”/hard to approach. I’m thinking I cheated and used a sex lure. I didn’t intend to of course. I had just mounted a fire fighting mattock tool with a yellow fiberglass handle to the racks on the Raptor. The Yellow Bee Fly must have just fallen in love instantly. I had brought my cameras out to the truck a few minutes before planning to head out shortly. Looking over I froze in my tracks. I got my camera and he was still there…..
Holy Crap I thought. I took 3 progressively closer images until he wasn’t in the view screen anymore. This was from 10 inches away or there about. Natural Sunlight just cooking down. This actually makes the capture harder since bug are very active when fully warm. Hair Triggers so to speak.
Those are HUGE eyes for such a small Bee Fly. This accounts for their tendency to fly quickly. These are good bugs too. The adults just sip nectar but the larva eat some bad bugs in your garden. I like to see these guys. They are just not very common in my area. Pretty small is the word…. It might be 1/4 inch eyes to butt. I’ve seen them more early in the spring on Dandelions though.
After watching these guys for 20 minutes, these twin fawns decided to walk up to the ridge line. They has a sunset show of a totally clear sky full of golden alpenglow. I know that deer watch beautiful sunsets. I’ve seen them stop eating to watch it for minutes at a time.
I’m always on the way to set up a landscape somewhere at sunset So along the way….. . I am after all a landscape photographer who likes to specialize in close/far perspectives from the viewpoint of a mouse. But…. Being an opportunist and stingy with my time, I pursue animal photography only as it occurs. This is in contrast to trying to make it happen. Now I have at times known where herds were and with definitely intent drove carefully/slowly into the center of the herds. It takes a little previous experience with that herd getting them used to my rig. These two Whitetail Fawns are definitely getting used to me.
I haven’t seen as many Mule Deer up in this country this summer. The Muley’s must have moved on to lusher pastures with WhiteTail Deer moving into the area filling the vacuum. Certainly we hope this is me not noticing where the Mule Deer hang this year. I way prefer to have Mule Deer about rather than just Whitetail.
It’s not too often I get to know a Whitetail Family. These two twins have now been well photographed this spring having spent several sunsets with them of late. I can drive up to good functional lens distance from them and not change their behavior any. After a few minutes, unless I move, they are not watching me. They were grazing. The Raptor I drive, shuts down it’s engine automatically upon braking to a stop. Saves gas I understand. It also makes it very handy to a guy who used to have to use the key to do that. These guys could care less if the truck starts or stops at this point. Initially I think it was a big deal. I left their proximity without spooking the group at all. Saw them later that evening down toward their water / night spot.
But the interactions between the fawns are what is the best thing to watch. Photographing twins is a pleasure at this age. (Them and Me lolol) Both are having fun in this fairly good pasture. Little Hail Damage here. Natural deer behavior doesn’t involve sticking their tongue at each other but I’d like to think it does. These two were definitely messing with each other at the time. Playing at the Dinner table.
Note the notched ear on the right fawn. I can follow it through it’s life now that it is familiar with me. Knowing how to recognize it is the game. Now for a name……