OK, it’s a halfie with the horizon 1/2 way up the frame…. I don’t produce a lot of halfies but this one is worth of your time I feel. A Close/Far perspective from the viewpoint of a mouse on the forest floor. Under the shelter of the old growth pines, these seeds wait for a grass fire to open up and “seed” themselves. The forest litter was varied and haphazardly dispersed around the bottom of the old growth. All under control of wind/water and gravity. 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 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.
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 game trail camera is the same camera that captured the doe I posted earlier this morning. This was taken on a different day of course since it wasn’t born just yet when the doe was caught.. This is likely one of her two fawns stretching as far as it could to see what this camera is lolol. I have a whole sequence of two fawns and the mother with the cow lick on her shoulder.
Cropping the top this off is possible. Obviously overexposed at the top right. Only behind behind that tree saved the image.. Automatic cameras….. I could have easily captured this with one of my fancy cameras but the candidness is all about me NOT being there. Thank god for the tree filter. Without that tree, this wouldn’t have been captured at all. This guy has just too much curiosity not to share with you folks. Deer babies are a spring thing….
Not many Western Meadowlarks were singing the morning I got this capture. We are in their breeding area
It was not funny to the Meadowlarks as it was to me. This particular snow made it hard to find a place to alight. IT stuck to everything. Other birds occupied ALL perches in all directions. Worse: No one wanted to walk in the several inch thick sloppy wet snow. It was sticking to everything including the poor birds feet. A favorite perch were the electric wires around my compound.. There are other photos of that as well lol. There were many good captures this day.
Meadowlarks are insect and seed eaters. They are very well adapted to life up here in this remote grasslands up here on the high ridges. I’m sure they time their arrival or departure based on insect availability I suspect. They watch the weather pretty closely lol. The whole prairie was full of Meadowlarks this day and no shelter in this storm. The snow stuck to his feet made me feel better because I wasn’t the only one dealing with it lolol. There is companionship often formed in misery……..
Meadowlarks left this year around early October when winter started and heavier snows moved through. We’ve had a constant barrage of storms with just a bit of warmer relief since. 40 degrees and still is T-shirt weather in this country. We’ve already been below zero this year.
Sunrise Through the Knothole. IT was a crisp cold morning, I was out collecting chips from Game Trail Cameras. I was also working the sunrise as opportunities presented themselves. i went for a walk along the shore or this small lake. The sun was just emerging as the horizon dropped away exposing the nuclear furnace. (Remember, the sun doesn’t move, the earth’s horizon drops away exposing the sun.).
Driftwood can be knot holed and this piece was big enough to stick my camera accompanied with a a wide lens attached. I’m honestly not sure which side of the border this is on as it’s pretty much on the border lol. I didn’t have my GPS with me. I usually reserve that device for fossil hunts where landownership and exact location is a bit.
Thinking like a mouse looking through a window, I take images of natural portholes/windows as I see them. It’s the close/far focus thing that is hard to do photographically. On manual mode, if deep focus is your Priority with your image, think immediately of turning UP your F-stop number. High f-stop numbers set your aperture (the pupil size of your camera) very pinpoint. As small a hole in the lens as possible. This give you the deepest focus (thickness of the zone of focus). Low f-stop numbers give you shallow focus. Maybe a nose is in focus but not your ears. It lets in LOTS of light going big pupil (low f-stop) but you have fuzzy backgrounds. If full image (close/far) focus is what your after, then high f-stop numbers are your playground.
Once you learn F-stop is a double edge sword either taking or giving light, it also effects focal depth. The other two settings are adjusted after f-stop to compensate and balance your light equation. If you learn nothing else from this, learn f-stop means focus depth.
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.
I am a real fan of pursuing close/far perspective images in the backcountry. I am standingup in Montana looking over the border down into Wyoming as the sun rises to the south east. The trees in the distance are in Wyoming. I’m one of the few photographers that can post most of the images I work on the borderlands in either states forums. I actually try to police myself if something is just Wyoming I’ll try to keep it only on Wyoming or national forums. Visa versa for Montana.
So perspectives and cold weather go together like peas and carrots. (classic reference intended). I’m not sure why this is but I’m drawn to the close details with mostly veiled sunsets behing. All caused by the icy atmosphere in the winter. between the sun and the camera. Hundreds of miles of ice and air only let through that gold light at this point. Earlier a lower angle only let through red wavelengths in twilight.
I take images with cameras that can look places your eyes can’t. You MIGHT be able to glance at this for a fraction of a second before you instinctively turned away. I watch this on a video screen and I know exactly what I just took a photo of without having to look at it. What I see on my screen is what I get here. (Actually I take very dark images only exposing highlight correctly. (If you must know). 📷
I find Meadowlarks a difficult catch. I should clarify that by saying getting a REALLY close “Closeup” to be a bucket list item.
The tendency of a Meadowlark encounter is to be random. They occur often while driving in the backcountry along fence lines. I often am traveling along a two track backroad only to see 50 foot ahead a meadowlark on a fence. If you stop too close, they will fly away. But if you stop “just right” and don’t move at all, they won’t fly for a while. If you move AT ALL once you come to a complete stop, they will fly quickly away. This is a law of nature that I’ve only seen ONE bird out of hundreds ignore. He is another story. This is a wild Meadowlark way out in the backcountry. Drove up on him.
This guy was very tolerant of my Jeep as it approached. I stopped about 20 feet away. At that distance, with an 800mm fast lens, I can focus on his eyelashes. The hard part is getting 20 feet away from a wild bird. They frequent this whole area with 5 or 10 birds an acre sometimes. I’ve seen a bird fly every few seconds before driving two tracks. If I go slow, their songs permeate the quiet. Up here it can be so quite that you can hear your heart beat. Not during Meadowlark season lolol. They are all gone now for southern Climates as we are sub-arctic at the moment.
Sunset with Aroma Added (Hybrid photo/art perspective)
I have always said, “If you can make a pile of SH** look good with a camera, you could be a photographer”. It’s all about the light/composition not about the subject. (I have posted this before and it’s now up to my “current standards” lololol).
In full disclosure, I added the old bearded mans face in mask profile using Highlights on the right edge of the “pile”. Sort of digital sculpting without any of the biohazard issues 😜 Channeling Bev Doolittle a bit perhaps (no insult intended to her)…… Other than that little area, everything else is un-affected by my machinations/mutation of an otherwise plain edge.
Anyhow, back to the composition. This Perspective is a close/far focus pretty much at water level of a small wetland area. The cattle of course tend to flavor the water. Drinking out of a natural body of water…..not so much of a good idea. Just my 2 cents. For that fact, most lakes…… never mind.
This sort of “encounter” is a common occurrence here in Cattle Country. Many a boot has met a hose as a result of this meeting. I consider this hazardous duty for my camera as the focus distance here is about a foot. Anywhere close to water is scary to me even though I have never dropped a camera from my hands ever. My luck, I’d drop it in the pile and bounce it into the water lol.
Sunset Ridge Deer Herd is just 6 members of the 20 plus deer grouping. Strung across this ridge line in 3 groups.. The herds are gathering for the winter. Security in numbers is their goal. I’m seeing fewer and fewer individual deer walking around, replaced by small herds to larger groups.
This is ridge is known to me as “Sunset RIdge”. It’s a wonderful place to take sunrise and sunset photos. It’s located just over the border in Montana with Wyoming Skies in the background. I have spent many hours up there and I was heading there to shoot the sky show. There were many deer spread out across the ridge. I decided just to take their images against the blue sky with golden hour glow to the landscape. Long shadows add so much to an image.
These deer will stick together all winter. There will be a buck in “general charge” but mostly I suspect an “alpha” female will lead them around the place foraging. In my observations, bucks are lazy and tend to watch a lot rather than boss. It’s the does that have the squabbles most of the year. The bucks like to sit back in the reclining chair. They do take time to eat but aren’t that social with the does. The does have probably figured out what getting too friendly with a buck leads to. I’m sure they don’t want anything to do with that at this point after the rut….
Taking a Great Blue Herons profile from the same elevation is a pretty low probability encounter. I use my Jeep as a portable blind. Adjacent to the 50 foot tall Cottonwood Trees, exists a steep grassy hill that reaches over 50 feet above the trees. The higher you go, the further you are away from the Heron Rookery. This required a long lens to reach out and touch this guy.
Sort of the “drone” point of view but I don’t fly the things lol. I’ve never captured an image before where you could see the top AND the bottom of a heron’s wings at flight. (I take a lot of Blue Hero). I find photographers shoot what’s in front of them…..Kinda like some hunters… I would really have liked to have this shot from the other side. The longer I work this site, the more likely this will happen again. Good photography is a function of being there and paying your dues. There are of course, some technical considerations for a long range shot. 📷 I used an 800mm telephoto lens for this image.
Photographed in the late spring. (spring was on a Friday in 2019) Swing seasons between white and brown are usually one day long in this high ridge line prairie country. Spring weather would be welcome with a storm due as I type this narrative.
The ranch wetlands these birds nest on are wonderful places for biologic productivity. The Cottonwood trees they roost in grow on a many decade old dam across a spring fed pond. That pond is also runoff catchment for several square miles but the runoff is all grassy, broad and not gully like. It’s wonderful hay country there. The pond is a nice several acre puddle. There are a series of water sources in the area so the birds to fly away to hunt as well.
Great Blue Herons are big up to 5 pound birds. That is a 5 foot wingspan across this 40×20 inch image.
Green Spring Wash is a capture from May of 2019. Our region has been in a winter weather pattern since October 1. I figured it was time to put you here with me at that time. This is a broad wash (shallow gully) that can flash flood with feet of water)
I had driven there in an open ATV. Early may is a tad chilly as the sun rises as such I was aware of the temperature. It wasn’t windy when I was walking though. Just brisk. This gully is a few miles from my homestead and I hadn’t worked this before. This gully has wonderful sculpted rocks and cottonwoods along with the thickest grass I’ve seen up here. All the mineral sands from a few square miles of drainage area wash by here. It’s probably as fertile as it gets in this country. .
The sun had just risen a few moments before. The sky was blue as could be with a cloud bank to the left blocking the sun. Contrasts are important. This was just a small window to the sun on a mostly overcast morning. This wash was full of spring growth.
That sideways branch in the foreground was budding having broken away from it’s parent tree years ago. Just a fine connections (lifeline) is all it needs. Life is resilient as heck here. It has to be to make it past the floods, the winds, the cold and the summer heat. Drought and fire is a common event. As a famous Movie once stated “Life will find a way”.
A Great Blue Heron Catching Some Wind was this bird way of starting to take off. Spreading it’s wings you could see the branch lift as the weight is lessened on it. These birds are masters of their domain. This is 50 feet up at the top branches of a Cottonwood Tree.
For a shoreline wading bird, these guys handle the high tree life roost without a miss. They make their living eating frogs, small mammals, fish and anything else they can catch around their realm. These guys are widespread in our Hemisphere from the Galapagos to most of North America. They breed up here though. They like places where there isn’t much human activity. Where they set up their rookery is quite a ways off an already remote county road. Isolated they are from humans up here.
Not many people ever notice the rust colored feathers on their wings leading edges. Also of note are their chest feathers. The birds actively shread them to make a powder that soaks up all the fish and oils from the wetlands.
I’ve spent many hours sitting and watching these birds. After the nest is built, mostly they hunt/sit on eggs. The male will bring the female the sticks and the female does the engineering. Both parents feed the young and share the 4 weeks of egg sitting. I’ve had a pretty good window on several of the nests all breeding season in 2019. I have quite a few images to finish from these encounters still. Job security I suppose😀
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.
Perspective: Pine Noodles Bough is a capture initiated by the -2 degree morning, the icy air and the lighting. The later of which was JUST coming over the ridge but about 15 minutes after sunrise.
Topographically, I’m working just over the lip of that higher ridge. Opportunities like this after photographing that sun coming up over a ridge 20 miles out are important parts of the timeline. I move quickly to transition to working a closer ridge several hundred yards out as the sun climbs. A sunrise is a period of moving from place to place to take advantage of the terrain. It is very important to know WHERE to and WHEN to move to the next shot. Extending your time working the “Golden Hour” is the result. You only have so much time to “Work the Light”.
I work “Parallel” ridges because I’m very mobile to look for interesting leading lines and angles. Here I saw this long pine bough covered in ice from freezing fog the night before. (the night I’m typing this the same weather is occurring and I’ll be up on the ridges for sure ). There was an 1/8th inch of ice on everything that was exposed to the wind. So a vibrant landscape with an interesting weather event… (a hero as every photo needs a hero). But working that shadow line is the game.
The glare from the sun is quite a hard thing to deal with. I am literally looking into the sun with this camera with a white ground reflecting light plus the ice. You’ve GOT to turn your camera to HIGH F-stop, LOW ISO and your shutter speed is used to balance the equation. If you don’t want a sun star, go f-11 mid range. You adjust either with a neutral density filter in front of your lens (I hate them), or higher shutter speeds. Many consumer cameras don’t have 1/8000th shutter like the higher end models do to compensate . So faster shutter speed to reduce light into the camera may not be as much of an option depending on your equipment.
Full Screen is a good choice for this. . Twilight over the BigHorns was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a time exposure to catch it. The timing on this sunset is very late in Civil Twilight. I was returning home from a Photographic Road trip. My driveway offered this view as I returned to base.
Civil Twilight after sunset ends about 28 minutes after the sun goes down 8 degrees under the horizon. It’s usually the best time to get those crimson and yellow skies. The yellow is Alpenglow. Atmospheric Ice causes this phenomena caused by refracted light passing through. Only the red wavelengths which have survived through hundreds of miles of atmosphere light the cloud deck.
The Big Horns of course are 130 miles from my camera at this location. The long lenses I use crush the perspective. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. Those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here.
Photographic Musings focusing on :
When I don’t get detail in the landscape, you can assume that the lighting was pretty dim. I use very sensitive gear and this late, handheld camera work is silly to attempt. This is a 2 second time exposure. A rested camera at 1/15 th of a second is pretty tough to keep from blurring. 2 seconds you HAVE to have either a timer to initiate the shutter and a tripod/sandbag or your going to blur. I say if it’s 55mm and smaller that 1/50th is fine and stable unless your taking photos of moving things. The longer the lens, the more ANY movement will tend to blur. WIth a 800mm lens, if I’m working handheld at less than 1/200th of a second is rare and a rested camera.
My rules of Thumb for Handheld cameras shutter speed. (manual mode) all times are in fractions of a secondl You MIGHT get away with less and slower speeds blurring things intentionally is a valid photo technic. I’ve done that slow setting for a blur numerous times intentionally with bees and other fliers. Freeze the body but blur the wings composition sort of image…
Sitting still subject: 1/50th or faster..
Walking human 1/200th.
Running anything 1/800th
Flying things/moving vehicles: 1/2000th
Bumble Bee Wings 1/4000th.
These are just a rule of thumb and you can sure get away a bit on either side of those numbers. Of course the faster your exposure and the less light will enter the camera over the shorter period of time. You will have to adjust for fast shutters by either turning up ISO or turning down the F-stop numbers (bigger aperture). There are only three things to adjust in manual mode after all. You just learned one of them. 😀
Trail Camera Lens Flare is a capture of light bouncing around in the lens of the gadget. Camera lenses are dull black inside for a reason. It keeps reflections down. I normally treat these as artifacts (which they are) on an image. If there was a subject on this frame, the lens flare would be a problem. Here I’m pretty sure it is the subject of the frame lolol. I consider this as such as ART but it’s all done in the camera..
Light bouncing around and making intricate patterns like this I have found to occur more inside of Game Trail Cameras. Plastic lenses are the rule or a plastic guard in front of a glass lens is a prime causation of this effect. The Sony Alpha E mount lenses are pretty well made by Zeiss for Sony. I deal with lens flare but it’s usually not pronounced in those optics. The cheaper game trail cameras are sensitive to bright light obviously.
Personally I like the flares as a subject unto themselves. There is an “art” to making them, working them and otherwise manipulating flares inside of lenses as you are taking photos. Tilting your camera a certain way, positioning the sun in a way as to not have them is typical for the work I do. I find I compose pretty quickly in the eyepiece but these crop up and complicate what should be an easy shot.
Changing focal length on a zoom lens can minimize the effect, holding away from the sun and a good sunshade. These are the best things to do in a hostile light environment. Centering the sun in the frame will eliminate a LOT of the flare problems pointing into the sun.
Channeling Japan in the Backcountry is a capture that brings the orient to mind. Classic Pines, striking sunsets, sloping ground. I’ve never done an “Uphill” on the sun’s side before. The extra negative space somehow balances this equation of light and time.
This was a cold morning and I had been looking for a place to do this as the sky was phenomenal. A veiled sun is always a good subject to work on Parallel Ridge. Follow the shadow line and see what lines up. Get some trees a few hundred yards out, turn up your f-stop and see if you can get them in focus with the background. A long focal field utilizing a telephoto lens is possible. But only at the great cost of a loss of lighting getting into your camera. You have to turn light gathering ability up in your camera by either increasing your camera sensitivity(ISO) AND OR use a longer exposure to enable light in over a longer period of time.
So distance from your forground object is your friend. Don’t forget to look behind yourself when you “step back”. The few times I’ve fallen with camera gear were ALL walking backwards. I’ve stumbled a few times doing other things but falling on my ass….all walking backwards. Save the cameras though lolol. Scrambling around the ridges and hills covered with sage, yucca and other low bushes is challenging for vehicles AND on foot. Loose rocks. I’ve put a few miles over such terrain. Sure footedness is a skill I have been lucky enough to develop.
It’s the camera’s I’m worried about lolol. I drop or somehow ding one about once a year. Fortunately I’ve only ever damaged camera bodies. The lenses have done fine. I watched a long lenses 3K dollar rig bounce off the ground
Having a Photobomber sneak into “Fledgeling Great Blue Herons” was a plus. I was focusing on the two above and in comes the head on the lower left frame. Curiosity got him in the photo lol. I appreciate him extending his neck as the tree was in his way. They can lift their necks up so high after all. Remember these little guys stand up to 5 feet tall and weigh 4-5 pounds. Masters of their domain they are 😎
This was tough light but I’m pleased with the opportunity to catch these guys before they migrated away from the rookery following their parents south. This image was captured early summer and the cottonwoods were fully leafed. I often loose track of the nests as the trees fill in with leaves . Thusly the cover over the nests keeps the privacy curtain up rather well. Not much assistance to me but I’m sure the birds like it.
These guys were up getting some sun. Mostly they had their feathers here but they were still waiting for their first flight. Parents were due to feed them shortly. Breeding/Nesting in the high branches of Cottonwoods is a common thing to see up here. The Cottonwoods line water ways and courses in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana. Tall and safe from any climbing creatures, they set up a home perched way up there. There were 6 nests inhabited this year in our rookery.
Sunset Across the 130 mile Distant BigHorn Mountains is one of quite a few BigHorn Range captures over most of last week. Amazing stuff 😲📸
Watching this alignment start up with the sun WAY left of the range less than a half hour before this. The sun will always move from left to right as well as downward. Of course it’s the horizon rising but you already know that. (The sun isn’t moving here, the earth is spinning) . The earth is tilted on it’s axis
That tilt is relative to the solar systems flat plane called the ecliptic. All the planets are circling the sun on that plane. The earths north/south axis Currently, the Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5 degrees from the plane of its path/orbit around the sun. But this tilt changes/wobbles like a top. During the long wobble cycle that averages around 40,000 years. (Based on good scientific work eh? 👁
The tilt of the axis varies between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees. Because this tilt changes, the earth is exposed to differing amounts of energy from the furnace over that interval. Paleoclimatology is something I have dabbled in. I will tell you the sun is the driver of our climate so one would assume that global changes occur as the way you face the sun. Yup, the climate has been changing since it all started as a pool of molten rock accumulated in a gravity well lol.
SO back to this photo:
This time of year, sun sets dramatically from left to right as the horizon rises here. But it rises from left to right at sunrise. (The phrase to google here is Ecliptic solar system). So tracking this and watching it change by the minute was very impressive.
Bright bright bright stuff. Shutting the camera down to light ALMOST taken with the len cap on (it’s that bright lolol) You only have 3 main things to set on your camera by working it on manual mode.
They are: “ISO” (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (aperture or pupil size of the lens) and Shutter Speed in parts of a second (s). Figure out what is important to you (deep focus or freezing motion?). You set f-stop high for deep focal field . F-stop low for shallow depth of focus field. F-stop takes away light so high f-stop (small hole in the lens) is good for high light situations. Priority 1 taken care of.
Your next priority (2) is ISO (camera sensitivity). Low ISO is ALWAYS best because High ISO give you too much light AND a grainy appearance in the image. So LOW camera sensitivity (or slow ISO 100). High ISO is best for LOW LIGHT situation. Really HIGH ISO over 2000 is for the dark if you need it only. I consider ISO evil to go high with.
Last thing on the list is shutter speed which is your variable to adjust the total exposure. You adjust until you get the result you desire. On an older DSLR reflex type camera, you look at the image on the LCD on the back of the camera body AFTER you take the photo. With a Mirrorless Removable Lens Camera though, you get what you see on the screen INSIDE the camera, WHILE you are moving the dials the image reflects the changes you make. What you see is what you get. Instant feedback, MUCH easier for you to learn on. So if you made it this far in my text, and your looking at cameras, pick a mirrorless model, preferably a full frame/large sensor camera. Full Frame cameras have higher dynamic range than smaller sensor cameras. 📸
Don’t USE a standard DSLR camera to take sun photos and YOUR camera may not be rated to take this heat. Large sensor cameras spread out that light and don’t melt like some smaller sensor cameras would here. More important, don’t blind yourself in a DSLR even trying this. Seriously!👁
This Complex Sunrise Big Sky image is on the Wyoming/Montana border looking east. Both states in the image. This is a “fully involved” sky
While Montana Claims the “Big Sky” moniker, Wyoming certainly shares it. Our ranch is in both states and MOST of my images have both states well represented in the capture. I’m one of the few photographers that can legitimately post an image in both states Facebook forums lolol.
This is called a “Sunrise” but in fact it is still in Civil Twilight a full 15 minutes before the sun actually rose. This is still a night sky. Day starts when the horizon drops away from covering the sun. Twilight is my favorite time of the day. I photographically work almost every morning but clear sky cloudless mornings. There are SOOOO many cloudless gradient twilight images in my portfolio lolol. Certainly I don’t need many more.
Going out in the twilight before sunrise into the backcountry is alway interesting. I often run into still bedded deer, most of which don’t care that I’m driving by, stop, take a photo and move on… I get some of my best wildlife photography done coming back from working morning twilights. I’ve done this many hundreds of times. Over time, you get lucky and random encounters start to add up if you have the right gear and ability to work in morning golden hour light. Twilight low light is a whole different group of settings lolol. The transition from twilight to sunlight is rapid.
I have a lot of this same sky looking west taken the evening of this same day overlooking the Big Horn Mountains. You will see these as they get finished/posted.
Location: Standing directly On the “Wyoming with Montana” border, Bliss DInosaur Ranch,
Yellow Alpenglow Backcountry Morning was taken at a crisp 20 degrees.
From this over look of about 4 miles, you can see one of my favorite areas to work the borderlands This beautiful country has topography conducive to lining up compositions. You can move up as a sun or a moon moves down against a horizon. I have a LONG sunset because I follow the suns shadow across the landscape to get repeat attempts at a sunset with different frames.
I know this ground like the back of my hand. I”ve spent many whole days in the backcountry doing either dinosaur, photos or artifact hunting (I’m an opportunist artifact hunter). I will pick them up if I see them. Remember it is illegal to collect artifacts OR vertebrate remains on Federal, State or Tribal Ground. Check the BLM website for specifics. These activities can only be done on private ground.
All of this ground is underlain by Hell Creek Formation which is dinosaur fossil bearing sandstone. I have literally found vertebra in the grass up here. But the grass makes it hard to find fossils and I have to work around that by looking in the gullies and being systematic. I’ve found croc teeth up here randomly keeping my eye to the ground. Antlers are also a prize in the backcountry to find. I’m very systematic in covering ground as I search new places. I’ve looked/walked about 1/2 the ranch VERY well over 20 years. I’ve also done a general survey around the area and unlikely areas to find fossils on the ranch. There are still places up here I haven’t looked at for cool stuff but I’m gradually covering carefully most of the ranch. (this is a big place).
I’m always looking for free cellulose filters to reduce the very very bright light from the sun. I never use filters in front of my lenses ever but natural ones. Extra glass get’s in my way but a Seed Filter for the Sun is always a good idea. I’m not sure of the plant species. There was a cluster of them by the road side so they are probably a noxious weed that just went to seed. I only know a two patches of this up here that I’ve noticed anyway. They seem to be very localized. It’s pretty stuff though with the sun playing through it. .
This was taken just a few weeks ago before the snow crushed all of this to the ground. Using a really Wide angle lens helps with this kind of capture but you want a lens that focus’s very closely. When I was shopping for a good wide angle, one of the things I paid a lot of attention to was how close the lens focuses. My 10 mm lens (here) will focus down to 9 inches away. Your setting FIrst priority is a high F stop….F-22 (deeper focal fields the higher the f-stop number) You need a deep focus for this… Shutter speed just has to be fast enough to stop any wind or hand motion of the seed headsSay 1/100th second. Then you just have ISO or camera sensitivity to balance the light equation to get the image where you want it. .
Your of course working manual settings on your camera. I don’t even know how to work my Sony Alpha cameras on Automatic. Never used it before on them. This image would have been capturable by a cell phone but this was a high end camera and lens.
The stratified cloud layer was rippled and in a perfect position to be lit from underneath by the sun as it dropped below the layer. It was heavily occluded before it got into the open air under the clouds. Big Sky yes but there is Herringbone sunset sky of both Wyoming AND Montana sky in this wide angle capture. (Most of my images have both states in them in one way or another).
The Herringbone pattern is not that common in my experience. Everything has to line up just right to get this kid of patterning/highlighting of just the low parts of the cloud layer. As soon as the heat from the sun hit this layer, the extra heat pretty much evaporated the clouds. Soon the sky went mostly clear for the actual sunset roughly 15 minutes later.
This location is only about a mile off the gravel road which this time of year is iffy. What you can’t see in this is the 5 or 6 inches of snow we have on the ground now. It’s been dang close to zero for several nights now. This is very early winter weather in my experience living up here in the borderlands. We get the best of both states AND the worst at times. Sometimes that is weather and other times it’s weather. 🤔😀
I’ve been busting still small drifts but I won’t go much off the paths now as it is really really slick and if you get into a hole, your not going to get out. They become gravity wells and even my jeep with full time 4 wheel drive has issues getting out of those in the winter. Don’t drop a tire off the level for anything. Hopefully I will only have this Jeep another month or two as I do have a higher smoother riding replacement coming with a 2020 build date likely lol.
Game Trail Camera Capture, Meadowlark Fence Line Morning Meeting
I didn’t do anything to this image to “Clean up” the .jpg that a 20 megapixel game trail camera gave me. This will teach you what the problems with the equipment is. “Meadowlark Fence line Morning Meeting”
So from my perspective as a professional photographic artist…. First step is to properly position cameras to catch things. This ended up a WONDERFUL capture with all sorts of quality issues due to equipment. It’s rare to catch 2 Meadowlarks in the same frame this close….😲It is a unique captures for sure. I set up this camera all summer on this fence line brace near a gate with a salt lick nearby. Where you have cows hang out, you get birds . Meadowlarks are my main target but I’ll take an eagle landing if such was meant to be lolol… Anyway, I got this “useable” image. A good catch so to speak…
The problem in Game Trail Camera images (depending on the model of course) is that they tend to not handle delineations between areas of differing contrast very well. Look at the piece of barbed wire off to the right of the post as it goes up to the grey sky. It has a 2-3 pixel white line surrounding the whole thing. The landscape has the same issue between the ridge top and the sky above. A several pixel White line which is tedious and tricky to remove from grass..
Then there is the “Grain” from the automatic camera upping the ISO (camera sensitivity) I could “Smooth” the grain in the uniform sky easily but not on the bird up close which is grainy as heck partially out of focus so close to the camera.
To an image, these game trail camera captures are candid. Natural behavior without a human behind the lens preventing this Meadowlark Fence line morning meeting from even occurring.
I think they are evaluating their mascara too but I’m not an astute observer of such things. Girls will be girls after all 😍 Nothing like a little salad in your tasty first morning drink.. There are lots of aquatic plants growing in that tank. It’s been running for years and it has a constant input of nitrates mostly from bird poop I would think. I should find a native fish that can live in there….. Tasty, aquarium water yummm 😀
Early Morning Reflections:
This Game Trail Camera capture showing two Does partaking of a gift from the Ranch’s pipeline system to get their tasty first morning drink. In the middle of the grasslands miles from the nearest other water source. We placed this old mine equipment tire tank. We obviously try to have water in each of the large pastures cattle rotate to and from. I keep a good strong jet of water running into each tank which usually keeps them open all winter by disrupting the surface and keeping the water above freezing. The heavy rubber is a pretty good insulator too.
These tanks are literally old mining tires repurposed. They cost about 1000 dollars roughly to get, transport and install if you do it all yourself. Of course having a 2 inch water pipeline miles from the main ranch well is a handy thing…. Being close to a coal mining area has it’s spiffs. Most tire tanks are 10 feet in diameter. (wide load lol). Wear a tire out and cut off one side wall, seal the bottom on concrete and put some hard packed old asphalt debris around the perimeter and you have a stock water tank for about 100 years. It’s pretty hard to hurt these tanks with anything short of explosive.
At midday when the sun is shining brightly, look for soaring “kettles” of Sandhill Cranes Riding Thermals over grasslands. These groups appear as barely visible wisps from afar with the unaided eye.. I think there is around 300 here…(Rough guess). Circling, right side coming at the camera the left side going away in the spiral.
The birds are using the thermals and keeping their flight muscles toned for the journey that lies ahead. Off to Nebraska First where they gather by the thousands on the Platte River where they put on some fat.
Several species of Sandhills (at least 6) with 3 being non-migratory and the rest are migratory. Cranes are diurnal or daytime migrants and use thermals to their advantage. They will hitch-hike a ride with the thermal higher and higher up to an altitude of a few thousand feet. They then will glide southward in wavering lines losing altitude as they go until they reach the next thermal, spiraling upwards to repeat the process. Rinse and Repeat is the play of the day. This method of migration is highly energy efficient, more so than the powered heavy on-flapping flight of other species such as the Canada Goose… On a good day with the right thermals, cranes can travel up to 500 miles but 200 to 300 miles is more typical. Finally in the late afternoon, they seek a wetland of some type to noisily roost in for the night. They depart the next morning with weather permitting, until they reach their next destination on the journey.
This Flock was following along the back edge of a snow storm that lasted a day. They were clearly waiting for it to move on so they could get past it and hung out just circling round and round getting higher with each revolution. Eventually they headed south toward the back of the snowstorm visible in the distance only to find another thermal and jump on board.
Location: Somewhat over the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana Borderlands.
Great Blue Heron Roosting also know as Ardea herodias by hobbiests and professionals alike. Here it’s hanging out 50 feet up above a lake in a big CottonWood Tree. You know, the tiny branches at the top. These are BIG birds weighing in at 4.5 – 5.5 pounds, stand 5 foot tall with a 5 foot wingspan….. They are AMAZING circus actors. They are total masters of their environment!📸
This bird was sitting about 200 yards from my lenses while I was on an adjacent slope I can actually get at nest level on (50 feet above the lake). I gain distance from the birds though by doing so….further away. . . They are pretty used to my Jeep driving around and it is a wonderful portable blind. Pairs will change egg sitting shifts at irregular times so sitting and watcing for moving birds can take hours with a small 6 mating pair rookery.
This rookery is a wonderful photo location for long lenses and the trick is not to pressure the birds which I try really hard not to do… I get lots of natural behavior shots so that is the best indicator to me. 😊 Using my Jeep for a blind, Ive been able to observe these guys for hours at a time. 800mm and 1200mm lenses are the order of the day. Long things to hang out your car window. I use a v shaped bean bag on my window for general work but I can tripod too if I have to on that same window.
Meadowlarks On Barbed Wire: They were qctually named by Audubon himself noting that they had been neglected by earlier birders. Lewis and Clark made note of them though. They 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 cam 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. Meadowlarks on Barbed Wire is a 2×3 aspect image/
These birds dont mind you coming to a stop when you see them. DON’t move once you stop because they will if you do . There are actually 3 birds here. One is flying off in the distance not counting the other one over the fence post on the far left distance lolol.
They are tricky to get close to and I always pursue an opportunity If I see it mostly with long telephoto shots. This image is a game trail camera shot. (I use very good Game Trail Cameras that are slowly migrating to the best places over time as I discover the locations that work best at different times of the year..Ninty percent of my encounters with Meadowlarks are at distance. Rarely one will let me into it’s “Personal Space” with my Jeep as a portable blind. This game Trail Camera got this from about 3 feet away with a wide lens. It’s a whole different perspective on these little guys than through a long telephoto lens.
There were a lot of these guys around until the End of October when It got cold enough all the insects were knocked down by the freeze. No bug, no food, and they fly south to better climates.
The Great Blue Heron Landing Head On here is a wide range spread. The species ranging to exotic places like the Caribbean, the Galapago’s Islands and the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch lolol. Now why several mating pairs (6) hang out up here about 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole, or in the Galapagos….hummm Choices. 😂
These are Big backyard birds (yes I have a big backyard AND they are big birds lolol). They are 4.5 -5.5 pounds fully grown and can stand 5 feet tall with a 5 foot wingspan. I had one take some really nice KOI fish I had in a 500 gallon tank built into my deck. I had kept these Koi about 10 years outside all year. (I’m sort of an advanced aquarium hobbiest)….
That tank is heated with a trough heater in the winter. I have a LARGE choke cherry bush mostly over the deck tank. I thought it impervious to attack or being seen from above but one of these intrepid hunters saw the water under the bush. It ate about 1000 bucks worth of ornamental big KOI with each one being over a foot long. About a dozen of the (beautiful fish) disappeared I assume over a few days. I never noticed until I saw him by our barnyard pond looking for frogs the ducks might have missed about the same time I noticed he was hunting my backyard (literally). Now our back yard is sort of large at 5.5 square miles here at the ranch but we still have wading “backyard” birds hang out here.
Note: I since have regrown a dozen now 6 year old KOI in that tank currently. Waiting for the next “visit” from a Great Blue lolol. The choke cherry bush is massive overhead of the tank….better design perhaps 🙏
Heron Rookery on Ranch
Actually there are a lot of frogs and fish in the waters up in the borderlands of Wyotana where these guys nest. I don’t see these birds walking around skinny lol. As a grou of 6 pairs, I’ve seen them raise usually raise 5 or 6 chicks and then head out for places unknown. .
I can’t really see them after mid May when the Cotton Wood trees they nest in leaf out. Their nests are 50 feet up the big mature trees over a lake here on the ranch. The rookery is adjacent to a tall hill such that I can get at the tree top level about 200 -300 yards away depending on the angle. I have some serious good images of Blue Herons taken over the years. I’m just starting to scratch the surface of the portfolio with this image. I have many more to finish. This whole winter is going to be finishing images 🙂