IT was extraordinarily still. 20 minutes after sunrise. A perfect mirror in the stock pond. Cattle herds have been watering here for over 100 years for a timeline. Yet longer ago, the Sands of the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance formations providing the water that fills the small glass smooth earthen berm’d tank. This water body looks much larger than it appears here. The perspective of the very wide lens messing with us. More of a puddle than a pond. None the less, a provider of a perfect double image for me to capture during this rare (long term) smoke pall moderated sunrise. This is probably the only good effect from too hot a burning forests x 100 … massively cool photographic environments….
Even though the sun appears higher in the sky, it is quite dark under the thick plume from western fires. The forest releasing all sorts of combustion gasses and soot. This isn’t as bad as all the man made structures burning. All those plastic fumes are mixed in with the forest by products as well. This is an unparalleled event as I see and understand the enormity of these combined fires. The hugely damaging “Bobcat fire” alone plus 27 other blazes in California alone are adding to the flavor (literally you can taste this stuff) of the air.
I’ve seen a lot of smoke before from fires but I haven’t smelled the fires as much as this year. Nor have any previous year I’ve experienced in my 30 years living in Wyoming been this thick with mixed haze. As a geologist I will tell you that this isn’t 1 / 100,000 of how an exploding Yellowstone would effect the sky.. That would be pitch black raining ash. That was climate change if you don’t think it has changed before lolol.
I had to think a little ahead this evening to get to this particular pond as the sun was going down. Timing… I became aware of these about an hour and a half before sunset. All the way (about 10 miles of gravel backcountry roads) to this little pond with somewhat of a north view. I would have liked to have had a reflecting pond on that ridge top but I’m thinking that would have been too much to ask for lol. They look like at atomic bomb cloud and actually have as much energy wound up as a small A-bomb.
This is just a small stock pond below a water tank up high in the backcountry. . I’ve seen lots of wildlife and Angus here historically. This evening was not a busy one for the critters at dusk. I figure they were up on the higher ridges getting a look at these two Massive storms off 85 miles North. I’m standing near the Montana / Wyoming border but those storms are 80 miles north and slightly east. This places them across the Montana, South Dakota/NorthDakota Triple border area. The two storms covering parts of 3 states.
The sunset that night was perfect for these storms to light up with the plethora of orange light we’ve been having of late. The fires west of us reddening up the already color cast nature of the “Golden Hour”. I worked this storm system from afar for about 2 hours. We have had our share of bad weather this year. Hopefully late summer and early fall will be more gentle.
I actually saw this scene live real time resolving it easily with my eyes. To my knowledge, there is no way to photograph it using only one photograph. The difference of illumination between the reflection in the water and the brightness of the moon was too large for my gear to resolve. So I took an exposure of the moon properly followed by an image of the water properly exposed.. Merge the best parts of both photos and here you have a composite art work reconstructing the scene as I experienced it. The technology commonly in use today is inadequate to capture such a scene with this extreme dynamic range in a single frame.
In other words, I can take a good photo of the moon and see nothing in the water. I can take a photo of the ripples in the water but the moon is bright white. The only way to see the scene the way my eyes did, is to merge those digital images. Human eyes see a wider dynamic range than do cameras thus far in their development. I could see this very well except it was pretty far away. Technology is chasing the 21 F-stops the human eye can discern where as the best cameras I can afford will give you 15 F-stops dynamic range.
I figure in 5 or 6 years and as many generations of chips I will be able to do this in camera. It was very cool to have this all line up though. Getting topography and Celestial objects to cooperate is a once a year thing at best when weather cooperates. I was back about 400 yards for this from the wind driven choppy water. Because it’s a composite, technically this is ART imitating an actual scene. 600mm F-4 lens. At f-11.