If you look at the left side of this and let your imagination go… a french poodle begging… On the right side, a Gorilla looking fierce. Or if you want to really let your imagination go. I see 11 other faces in that rising cumulous cloud. (soon to be a thunderstorm as there was a LOT of lift in the air that day. Many of these thermals grew into big storms that hit to our east. .
Seeing faces in clouds or other natural scenes is termed: Pareidolia. Historically this tendency diagnosed one with psychotic symptoms/ “abnormal”. Now we are teaching computers to do it for facial recognition purposes. Making familiar patterns out of random data is a common “affliction”. It’s not just clouds of course. Hearing hidden messages in music is a similar effect. Any pattern the human mind creates out of literally random data is symptomatic.
Of course the state of medical/psychological science has improved a tad from those early days. I consider them sprits in the sky. This was caught glancing back behind me to the south won a warm evening is a good habit. Many photographers get tunnel vision working sunsets and forget to glance around. The back shows are often better than the main sunset if your chasing light like I do. I suffer horribly from this mental disease seeing faces and animals in almost every scene I look at. Some days it’s worse than others though lolol. 😜👀📸
Most of you know Bliss Dinosaur Ranch hosts the nationally sanctioned Tactical Rifle Championship up here on ranch every July. (Sanctioned by the “Riflemans Team Challenge” )
The course of fire consists of 8.5 miles of groomed pin flagged back country trails. There are 28 different mowed shooting stations with over 290 reactive steel targets downrange. (2 courses each in both Montana and Wyoming) . If you look carefully, you can see a few reactive steel targets set up. This visual tunnel looking through a the trees to the hill/backstop 800 yards in the distance where a few more 10 inch blue square plates reside.
We have had the “Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship” as a dedicated even up here for the last 11 years. Sporting events around the globe are being cancelled due to “Pandemic” . There of course is a discussion of what to do among the board of directors of this long running 501 C3 non-profit event.
We raise funds for Wounded Veterans and their family having given away in excess of 100K over the years. Hopefully we will have no cancellations from Corona Virus this summer. Not having this event would be a serious disruption to the whole series to say the least. Having said that: we will evaluate based on conditions as we go here.
I’ve actually had a major shooting event up here every year for 18 years. The first 7 years the event belonged to someone else. They just held it here which we facilitated. After that group “retired” from the game, a small group of folks picked up the reins. We only had 6 shooting teams our first year. Now we have an average of 26 teams over the last few years and now we are affiliated with “Rifleman’s Team Challenge” for accumulating national points toward that National Championship. Professional shooters from around the country usually show up a day early in July (registered and paid for) and we camp/RV for 3 days until everyone has engaged two days of field shooting and a third day of team versus team challenge.
Every year, over 100 people descend on us for 4 days of RV and tenting with the shooters spending 4 hours each hot July day on courses of fire . It is quite a culture shock for our little quiet homestead. 🙂 This event is not open to the public generally but we do take donations for the prize table or cash for direct vets. 60 volunteers put it on, none of us are paid.
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 those 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 about.
In a nutshell, you need a 400mm or longer lens, distance, timing, topography and a cooperative moon. Distance from the foreground object is your friend. So is a HIGH f-stop number (f22 or higher as I work this at f64). 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 1 second time exposure if you have a tripod would be nice to compensate. Longer exposure means more light into the camera..
This was 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 MONDAY 3PM offer… Moon photos all day today. This is number 4.
These two jokers were hanging out where I was driving just as the moon Full December moon was setting. The pink”Belt of Venus” was pervasive in the back show that morning. Alpenglow like the Belt of Venus is a result of LOT of atmospheric ice. The pink is the light that made it over the horizon, the blue like under it is the shadow of the eastern horizon on the western atmospheric ice screen. There are not many days of the month you can catch this and then the sky has to be clear enough to see the moon down that low to the horizon. As the western horizon moves upwards, the blue will disappear along with the full moon setting in due time.
Yet another low light (civil twilight) Close / Far perspective out of a 23-135 Sony G series lens. Some lenses do this kind of thing better than others but a medium zoom of about 70mm was my pick here. High F-stop for deep focal depth of field. Camera sensitivity and speed you set to light conditions with ideally lower iso and faster shutter if you can get away with it. Riding the razor blade of light balance. F stop is your priority here unless the horses are moving. If they are moving your going to have to make your shutter speed faster and turn up your camera sensitivity to compensate for the less light due to a faster speed/shorter exposure. It’s always those three settings working your camera in manual mode. Your camera on automatic is not going to take this image.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Full Horse Moon…. instead of Quarter Horse Moon…. 😜😄
I would like to thank the quarter horse and the moon for sitting for me. A photographer is only as good as his the source of the photons we capture. It’s harder than heck to get the moon to sign a model release I have discovered. The horse was WAYYYY easier to get to “sign”. This was a cool morning by the way. It was around 10 degrees at the time, 10 inches of snow all over the ranch land. This neighbors horse was with his all black cohort free ranging out in the backcountry. I happened by about the same time the horizon was rising to cover the moon from below. What a coincidence 🤗
This setting moon that morning was very visible with the sun rising over my shoulder left frame. The lighting was wonderful, the sky robins egg blue with wisps of clouds. The horse was only about 150 yards out for the soft focus in the close/far perspective that this image is. I’d preferred 200-300 yards but beggar opportunist photographers can’t be choosy sometimes 😜👁 Remember trying to do a terrestrial object with the moon, distance is your friend with a telephoto. Further back, the horse would have looked much smaller to the camera. This relative to the moon which would look bigger compared to the horse. I couldn’t walk any further back and still line this up. Topography is my master.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).
Capturing a Halo around a full moon is not that easy as the full moon’s brightness usually overpowers the dimmer clouds surrounding. Most cameras can’t take it but the veil of clouds reducing the brightness REALLY helps.
I look at this and see a moon orbiting a gas giant planet such as Jupiter. That is because I live in a science fiction world of fantasy at times. I also have a somewhat overactive imagination but that is for another story lol.
To take a full moon without clouds, the ISO 100, 1/100th and f-11 manual mode settings are a good starting place. This is more like ISO 250, 1/50th and f11 (lowest f stop on this telephoto. Your shutter speed is your variable of the three settings. The other two settings are more or less standard for moon work unless you have very fast long lenses. Everything changes if you are using a f-4.5 600mm super-telephoto lol. Fast telephotos are wonderful for this if you have a camera with a very wide dynamic range too. The ability to see the darks against the brights is what that is all about. Dynamic Range in your camera is a big deal if your working low lights, twilights and nights.
A big super-telephoto fast Canon lens to do this work is somewhere in the 6000 dollar range used. IT’s obviously prohibitive and 13K to buy one new. I suggest getting a used one through either ebay or amazon as you typically CAN return things unless otherwise stated.
My target was the smiley face in the sunrise As I pointed the long telescopic lens at the fence brace to line it up I noticed the Meadowlark. I started snapping and caught this. I think the Meadowlark was as surprised as I was. Both of us saw the anthropomorphic image unfolding. Only we saw it and he didn’t have a camera.
Meadowlarks are very active this early. The sun had been up for about 1/2 and hour. I had been photographing the sunrise. I was headed back as the sun was climbing into a dark thick cloudbank. Looking back, I saw this lol. Backing up a little, I got in position. Click on machine gun setting which works will that time of morning with all that bright light. (This was a VERY bright scene. ). This accounts for the dark tones as the difference in dynamic range makes silhouettes out of things the human eye resolved. The best cameras can’t resolve this much difference in illumination between objects.
Meadowlarks are abundant up here in the Wyotana borderlands/high plains . Beautiful Song and obvious Yellow breast lending itself to be the state bird for several states out here in the west. Abundant in their preferred habitat, they thrive here on our ranch as far as I ca see in this environment. They gorged on Grasshoppers all summer. They are welcome here anytime . A Dozen per acre would be my estimate in the deeper backcountry. There is a lot of grassland up here and these guys thrive in this environment. They have a beautiful song and are a little difficult of a subject. This Image is a 2×3 aspect to 36 inches.
Colorcast orange Banded BigHorn Mountains is an odd color to cover a landscape with. It was really that color lol.
I saw this developing the other night as I’ve been on a mission to catch the sun behind the BigHorn Mountains. Some nights, the weather window is closed to the mountains but this night it was closed to the sun. The 130 miles distant snow covered range was shrouded in this Orange colorcast that was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape.
This only lasted a few minutes of course as the sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds. All just prior to being snuffed out by the range. The horizon of course is rising here, not the sun is setting….
I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The sun and the range is playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have many good captures from this week which will slowly work their way into my work flow here. T
The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out from this 800 mm telephoto capture on a very high resolution camera. If you hold a postage stamp at arms length and place it against the horizon, this image would fit into a square that side.
2:1 aspect. (very wide. 40 x 20 inches at 300 dpi.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.
I’m not sure of the seed plant here. Grows in big bunches. Not a lot of them on ranch so they are probably a noxious weed I don’t know lolol. Anyone got an idea??
Our ranch is about 1/3 pine treed pastures and about 2/3rd’s grasslands. Autumn down on the flats off the old growth treed ridges is a different perspective entirely. Thats a good mix of winter and summer pasture. You don’t want your cows in pine trees as the pine needles they eat cause spontaneous abortions from the turpentine they contain. Deer do just fine with them but not cattle.
Autumn happened on a tuesday this year in full disclosure. This is actually winter in this shot between snows/melts and was taken about a week ago as I type this. (2 weeks from when it posts. ). Up here in the remote ridges/high backcountry of Wyoming/Montana borderlands, we have a pretty long ramp up to full winter. That ramp is pretty steep this year so far lol.
The sun was just dropping below that cloud deck highlighting everything in a gold light with about 15 minutes to go to sunset at this point. I love perspectives and wide lenses
Here’s a frozen motion shot of A Chase and Evasion During the Pronghorn Rut a week ago (from this post). The rear male actually wasn’t involved in this chase/evasion. The other three were just running past him in the slow lane… The three in the front were traveling about 50 mph (all out in other words) and the MUD WAS FLYING on the corners. This wasn’t running away from me, they didn’t care I was there…this was running away from the middle buck in the photo. Trying to get the attention of the gal between them. Fighting/rutting for the doe…. Flat out hauling white furry A** /cornering too….
Photographers notes: 1/2000th second F13, ISO 1000, 1200mm(fast) lens. About 200 yards out. Not a crop 🙂 Full Morning sun..
Tracking these guys with a 2 foot long, 13 pound camera/lens setup out of your jeep window is a challenge lol.
When you Take a Nap and the Water is Freezing Around You…Now I “believe” this is a “Snipe”. An actual Snipe mind you. I may have the ID wrong as I’m NOT a birder, I’m a photographer who like photographing birds lolol. So… napping he is, it’s right at 32 degrees, it’s snowing, the water is slowly setting like concrete around him. He was there about 5 minutes for his version of a cat nap (might be an inappropriate term for a bird napping). He got out lol.
So if you like to go out “Snipe Hunting”, here you go. It’s probably some curlew or some other related bird though lol.
Long telephoto shot, not a crop. 18×18 inches at 300 dpi 🤔
These 3 Great Blue Heron Fledges are 50 feet up a Cottonwood Tree. These are not common birds here on the high plains but they do come to roost and breed each spring. Our ranches wetlands have our share of Heron Breeding Pairs. These three are about 40 days old fledglings not yet flying but getting most of their adult feathers in. I don’t see them much on up in the drylands. Only near the ponds.
I did have at least one come onto my deck without my knowledge ….where I have had a 500 gallon tank (built into the deck 20 years ago) full of Japanese Koi that were about a foot long. It was almost entirely hidden from above by a choke cherry bush of some prestigious proportions. The heron obviously saw right through my ponds came and ate all dozen of the big ornamental gold fish I had kept in that tank for 14 years. This was a few years back and my replacements are about 8 inches long plus the choke cherry bush is more covering…… (I’m assuming it was a heron since I saw one in the yard the next day which is a rare sighting indeed here). I have photos of him flying off somewhere in my files lol.
I’ve not seen them about the nesting area since late July. This image from June of 2019. These guys were also a football field away from the vantage I had on an adjacent ridge to get this level look at the tree tops. Add a very long lens and you get “up close and personal” if you will.
Early on I can see most of the nesting in this 1/8 long mile extended cottonwood tree line. Habitants included a great horned owl and chick this year in addition to the Heron Rookery… I love this place’s diversity of subject matter.