Perspectives from the viewpoint of a kid climbing a tree, at least that is what I was after here. I always look at a scene and zoom in to that alternate view in my mind. I try to extend my perspective from where I stand to where the light is calling. These little areas of zen seem to just appear in front of me. Wyotana backcountry is rife with old ground, ground not disturbed by humans at all (except maybe for fires). . Lots of it by the hundreds of square miles. This is several miles off the nearest county road.
Wonderful 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. 📷 I’m always looking for visual tunnels….
This shows the icy backcountry snow getting a crust on it with a few above freezing days. These followed by subzero nights. The crust actually makes it harder to get around because your wheels are always trying to climb on top of that crust. Your basically in 4 holes all the time coincident with your wheels. Plus the snow becomes like ball bearings…. It’s about time for a big snow though. February is a busy snow month historically. The wet season of course is in the spring when all the biggest snows are. Usually LATE spring around late April or early May have have memorable storms historically.
Sunset Snow Squall (2:1 Diptych is 2-20″x20″ images) A snow filter to the light…..🤔👀📷
This might be a little abstract for my normal viewers. I like the artistic swash of color making its way through a tremendous dumping of snow locally. This was a wonderful moment of orange snowflakes falling heavily everywhere. They were big clusters of merged flakes the size of quarters some were. It was a very wet dump from above. Transitory as such things usually are, lasting about 10 minutes. Then moved on as it was getting quite dark. Time to go home. This storm left an inch on the ground in a very short period of time. Those dots in the sky here are ALL snowflakes from close to infinity frozen in their travels for this moment in space in time.
Here we are mid winter and the snow pack could be deeper. We have been having some smaller snows that are slowly adding up in accumulations. We have indeed had a strange weather year. All climate is local as the world has NO climate. It has ALL climates. Our climate this year started out with a month short summer. We had lilacs blooming on the 4th of July this year. Oct 1 is when winter started in 2019. It really hasn’t been cold here yet though. Most winters we see 20 below actual temps several times, not yet this year however. We have been below zero one period so far. This has been a pretty mild winter by local standards…. So far. (mid-february 2020)
That’s Devil’s Tower on the left and the “Three Sisters”
This country is big. The high ground looks pretty close but those mounds of phenolytic porphyry are pretty big thusly far away. . These bumps on the landscape used to be buried by thousands of feet of sediments surrounding them. The hard rock volcanic neck rose up thousands of feet higher than it is now.. The Little Missouri River removed some covering sediments from the west side. The Belle Fourche River Drainage providing the bulk of that work to the east. The soft rock is removed while the harder material makes mountains. That’s pretty much the way it works all over the planet.
This was a beautiful evening for a partly cloudy sky sunset. . These kind of evenings are all about the side shows, not the sunset itself. It was calm, little or no wind (rare), you could hear cattle calling from miles around. The air was crisp and icy as can be. It was only 5 minutes to sunset at this capture so the shadows are very long. The contrasts are all building as the “Golden Hour” draws to a conclusion.
That detail on the Devil’s tower is from 40 miles away. In maybe 100 trips to take this scene, this one might be the clearest view from the Pass at Rockypoint that I have in my portfolio.
Location: The Pass at Rocky Point Wyoming, On the border of Crook and Campbell Country about 4 miles south of Montana.
I do see some RARE colorcast Twilight situations now and again. This is real color I swear. The red light making it to the clouds above totally saturated the snow below with the same color. Like a projector screen reflecting the red to my camera. I am very accurate in my highlight colors and this is as I remember the scene vividly. This is actually the West view/back show with the eventual sunrise 20 minutes later than this capture.
I have one other similarly colorcast dominated image with a more yellow color. It was too a morning early Civil twilight even . I have just finished it’s image which is waiting in the wings to post here in a few days perhaps. The yellow colorcast image was a different twilight entirely. I’ve experienced only a few occasions of this kind of lighting in several decades of watching sunrises/sunsets. . It takes a very specific series of conditions to make this kind of twilight illumination. Catching and reproducing color accurately in my images is what I try to do. If it weren’t this way and it was a normal twilight, I would have removed this color from the image (which I could easily do). But this was the scene as I experienced it. Dramatic as heck to be honest.
Being there with a camera is the hard part in mid-winter. This particular occurrence happened in December 2018. I kept the camera busy that morning lol. 📸📸
Boy is there a lot going on here. This was a dramatic morning to a student of clouds. The Kelvin-Heimholtz type Wave Cloud patterns on the top dark band is not a terribly common cloud phenomena. Differences in air density moving past one another making waves… Add to that the spread across the sky crepuscular rays during twilight. I probably have 4 other images in 30 years of photography. Twilight Crepuscular rays hard to find in my experience.
I was looking madly for a foreground object(s). Ones I could use on a mostly treeless parallel ridge between me and the show. The main sunrise still 10 minutes away. I move pretty quickly from place to place if it’s possible. Mid-winter presents it’s challenges to my access or more importantly egress from some of my ridge top photographic locations. I had to drive about a mile in variously deep snow to get this angle on the tree lined ridge over 2 miles distant from my position. There is a large deep drainage between that ridge and myself as well. Can’t get there from here lolol.
The yellow to orange to red Alpenglow gradients is typical morning midwinter. The longer traveled red rays illuminating the cloud deck from below. The Yellow / Orange part of the image is mostly Alpenglow. Alpenglow is exquisite here in the winter. Every twilight has some if the sun is not occluded by clouds. . There is usually ice in the atmosphere in the borderlands even mid summer sometimes. I’ve seen Alpenglow every month of the year.
This sunburst coming just over the edge of the far ridge is one of the most prodigious I’ve had come out of this camera. Part of it was there was a LOT of fog in the air for this. Primarily these sun star are diffraction artifacts inside the lens of the camera. They are either attractive to you or not I have found. I personally like them.
Are these rays there in the real world? Yes they are a result of light passing through a very small aperture. Light diffracts off the edge of the opening which you are seeing here. The same thing probably happens to your own eye but you’d be blinded if you tried so you turn away lolol. No one can look into a scene like this for very long twice. No human eye could do more than glance past this. Then you’d still be seeing spots. When the diffractions stars are BIG, it’s really bright. Also the F-stop is turned up to give me a small aperture. Cuts off light too … Wide focal fields with high F-stops lets me properly focus the grass at my feet AND the hillside.
This was taken a day before we got a pretty good snow. IT’s a LOT harder to get around up on the high ridges now. We’ve been in the deep freeze for a while with mid-February weather spitting a few inches every other day at us. No huge storms YET this winter, I hope we get snow spread out in smaller dumps rather than huge punctuated events with named winter storms.
It’s not magic using a 12 inch Meade LX 200 Telescope at 3200mm. The result can be very interesting in the details… This bottom 1/3rd of a D moon (first quarter). I took this in infra-red capture… so any color would be artificial. Infra-red comes out pretty and pink raw out of the camera. This is more like it was at the time I took it not far from the horizon. The seeing was good that night. That was the mystical part….It doesn’t happen often enough even up here at 4000 feet in the dark dark westerns skies of the Montana/Wyoming borderlands.
It takes me 6 images at this magnification to stitch together the full moon into one frame. The resultant file is rather large lol. There was very good “seeing” that night. “Seeing” is a term astronomers and amateurs as myself use to describe the atmospheres transparency at any particular time. WHen the moon is straight up, the seeing tends to be better due to the less atmosphere your looking through. I see horribly distorted moons near the horizon where the atmospheric distortions have their way with the transmitted image. Turbulence above me usually blurs the details that this this light let through to my photon capture boxes (cameras).
Pursuit of the moon is a very cyclical thing. If your hunting for details, then you want LONG shadows to accentuate them. Full moons are wonderful of course, generally easy photography but the detail in the craters are elusive. I live very much in tune with the lunar cycle as well as the yearly sun’s migration I photograph both when they present me with opportunity and light worthy of your attention.
Moon, This is the Moon. NOT the Sun. Captured from a Truck Window mounted camera up high in the backcountry of MT/WY. I have been able to get around with my “new rig” a little better. This capture on a remote ridge. This was done with a 30 second time exposure to pick up all the ambient light that was about. I could BARELY see this blush on the trees and had to set up my camera to catch this. A little tricky actually but the thought process is straight forward. The moon was heavily veiled for this and that limited me to landscapes instead of moon photos lol. This is the result.
Known as the Snow Moon, named after the snow on the ground. Some North American tribes named it the Hunger Moon due to the scarcity food. Also the hard hunting conditions during mid-winter. Others named it the Storm Moon for the tendency towards brutal February ‘s storms
This was a very very dark capture. A 30 second time exposure requires a very stabile platform like a heavy tripod or a sand bag and a remote trigger. I used a timer. Your first priority is shutter speed, the more the shutter is open, the more light the camera is going to collect. 30 seconds is a long exposure for me.
The Aperture was F-11. To get Deep focal fields, F-11 is low for me. I wanted the Moon lit “Snow Diamonds” to show up in focus. The Snow Diamonds would blur setting a lower F-stop. Any higher F-stop and the image would have been too dark. Focal Length was 48mm.I hate using ISO higher than about 150 but here I used 300. (camera sensitivity.)
Satire: The forest is full of a million moments of time and space. Different moments and different angles each contribute to what a camera can save for our amusement. It’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time to see the play go on stage.
Here the moon had found a nice place to catch a comfortable rest before climbing to it’s zenith. Thank heavens this didn’t hold up the moon very long as there are so many things that rely on precise timing of the moon and the tides. 😃 Think of the mess if the moon gets held up.🤔🤔
Back to my normal programming:
Of course there are other phenomena related to the full moon besides photographers making up satire. Emergency rooms get busy on full moon nights. I worked as a medic for 20 years total and I give some credence to that discussion. I’ve seen some crazy stuff on full moon nights. They say that dogs are 28 percent more likely to be taken on an ER vet visit during the full moon. Birth Rates go up (don’t ask me! I learned what caused that crap early on). More Crimes are committed (FBI stats), Amazingly and last in this short list is that during a full moon is a better time to have surgery. The outcome statistically is better during the full moon. I don’t ask why. I just go with the flow….
Pink Alpenglow on Snow Moon (Moon Monday all Day Plus a Windmill Weekday)
Rare mornings each month does the Full moon set with the sunrise behind the photographer. Rarer yet are the mornings that we’ve just had a fresh snow coating everything. Add to that the Red/Pink light of the Belt of Venus falling down on the snow. The 40 miles wide Little Powder River Valley stretches across to the “Red Hills” (Their real name). The 6 inches of fresh snow over the last couple of days has been blowing around from a strong wind. “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill had to get into the picture as is his propensity of course. I have no control over his photobombing actions. In his defense, I find he provides scale for this perspective crushing telephoto shot
Mustings on Agility:
Standing back 400 yards from this .5 second exposure that was on a window clamp mount using my vehicle as a tripod out in a snow covered field that allowed this angle. Yes, this morning I was driving through drifts and 6 inches flat of snow all over the place. I have enjoyed the extra clearance that this new f-150 Raptor has. I’ve never had to take it out of 4 wheel high so far. Off road even down hills pretty steep hills (and getting back up) is doable so far. Usually valleys are black holes for 6000 pound objects that drop below the ridge line. I’ve not managed to get it stuck so far. I’ve gone many places that would have stuck my old jeep hard. I am much more agile in this rig than any other I’ve driven up in the high backcountry.
A hundred year old settled area (only), Rockypoint Wyoming has a rich history of community surviving in the northeastern corner of Wyoming.
This spot is a good 12 mile drive over good gravel roads from my residence. That takes me about 18 minutes from my driveway if I drive below the speed limit. I have found that I’m a rediculously careful driver. The police driving course I took and subsequent on the street work, watching speeders and turn signal stops all day,. I was also an EMT for 17 years. Saw a lot of the result of bad driving. Sometime Days at a time in a small town in Ohio lol. I digress…
So every time I drive to this intersection, I see an image, and locked up the “antilock” brakes. With less than ideal traction, there was a spasmodic response of deceleration. The truck slowed jerking to a stop. I backed up, rolled the window down to verify what I was seeing. It was pretty cold at the time and setting up a tripod is of course the game.
THe Misty Mountains 40 miles out are the Three Missouri Buttes (center) with the Devil’s Tower to the far left horizon. Mostly hidden in the mists, it rises 1200 feet about the nearby Belle Fourche River (the lowest place in Wyoming where it crosses the border).
Location: Rockpoint Wyoming. Crook County about 7 miles south of the Montana border. (still Wyotana).
As Canada Geese migrate, they make nightly stops here on open water which was getting rarer as the season went along. Migration consists of these big birds moving from where there were born, to warmer areas, then back to their birth place.
These geese are amazing birds with up to a 75 inch wingspan weighing between 5 and 15 pounds. Now a 15 pound bird is a LOT of bird. Big Males are nothing to mess with if they are being territorial and habituated to humans in city parks etc. They never stick around up here to give me a hard time so far. They will violently attack any creature that is a perceived threat to their goslings including humans.
The Canada Goose is literally the largest goose in the world. Having said that, there is a subspecies of canada goose that is the smallest goose species in the world as well. The oldest captive goose lived 40 year with 30 years being common in captivity. 10-25 in the wild is typical. They mate for life but if one mate is lost, they will take another.
True Story here on ranch…
I have some experience with geese chasing me. Never fought one. I did however have a confrontation with (captured them by hand) a wild 30 pound bird or 2 before (turkey) that was in our log house under construction at the time with no windows in the building yet. A flock of 1/2 dozen turkeys were inside. Not wanting to clean up the mess, it was my job to get them out…. I went in with safety glasses, a light jacket and gloves. I have determined that turkeys while flying through missing windows do well. Not so much flying out the same windows blanks in a log wall. (to the light). I had to catch each one of the birds Stuck on running around the room from me rather than trying to leave via the window. Dinosaurs all. Just no tail and teeth.
Getting to a favorite overlook for catching a Twilight Moment in the Backcountry in the Wyoming/Montana Borderlands is an exercise in driving remote two track roads in the dark dark lol. I might take 10 or 20 minutes to get into position for a shot like this pre-sunrise usually in late Nautical Twilight where stars are visible early on.
Eastern Skies almost always have better twilight shows than western skies as there is usually more ice in the atmosphere by my observations. Others may disagree.🤣This is in mid Civil Twilight which starts 28 (ish) minutes before actual sunrise. Nautical Twilight just ended and Astronomic Twilight (when the stars just disappear) has been over for a 1/2 hour. IT takes about an hour for the sun to rise. The horizon is actually falling away from covering the sun for the night. Remember it’s not the sun that’s moving. I remind you that it is the earth that is rotating. The horizon is literally falling when you look to the east about 4-6 inches during the time it takes a rifle bullet to reach 1000 yards out.
This Backcountry show starts in pitch black as deep as the North Atlantic Ocean (according to NOAA). Little dribs of color pushing through the dark. . As time progresses, the “volume” of the color wheel is turned up. Such Sky Shows are a pleasure to watch from beginning to end and I have done many many hundreds in totality. I’m pretty sure time isn’t taken off your lifeline for time spent watching sunrises and sunsets.
This is a 1 second time exposure as it is. No wind, dead calm or the pine needles would be a blur.
I live up on the high ridges of the Borderlands. About 300 feet lower from my place, this goes one. We’re all in trouble for floods to reach my door. Our homestead sits at 3700 feet. This flooded spot on the Montana border is 3419 feet above mean sea level. The Lowest spot in Wyoming is 3099 feet above mean sea level on the Belle Fourche River. My communication tower is 4013 feet or about 300 feet above my house. . A lot of water runs past this point in the right season.
This from last year showing the result of a quick warm up in March. The snow pack last year was greater at the same time than this year I observe. Drainage funneling down to choke points of course is a recipe for high water. Upstream here covers an area 50 miles long and 40 miles wide in some places. It’s several thousand square miles in the drainage of the “Little Powder River”. That’s a lot of ground with a couple of feet of snow melted down to 6 inches of well packed firn (granular snow) .
The local term is, “the river is coming down”. Now as a geologist, I think of the river coming down as referring to the water level declining. But this colloquial use means the water level is going up. All that water up stream is “Coming down”. I had never heard before I moved up here. Anyone else use this as a term for rising flood waters?
The commonality we all have with roads leading off into the distance brings back memories of “going over the pass”. Every time I crest a hill I never know what I’m going to see.
Taken early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. . I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy cloud gradient already on a remote high ridge. A fully involved sky is a treasure but this morning was a treasure chest with all the rare colorcast it led to later in the sky show.
Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.
Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you usually have to gain altitude to do so. Much easier on the roadways than back on the snowy ridges. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. Everything else is lower in this area. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country. This was a stressless busy morning for sure.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
Looking Northwest overlooking a 50 mile wide valley during the golden hour. The snow was not quite a foot deep. The ridge line road has better summer sunsets to the north west. The low angled sun cutting across the bath. The Day only has minutes left. Setting up for the sunset will take a minute. Interested I am in the lines and the shades of this Golden Hour. Long shadows stretch nearly to infinity at this late hour of the day. My ford has 13 inches under the lowest part of the drive train. A foot of snow is not even close to a problem. Now if it was drifting…… That’s a whole another problem.
A few days before, plowing this road helped this morning. Easy driving is a good thing. Winter this year has not been harsh YET. (Bad Luck saying such things). This really improves my time on target and make the ride much smoother. Bumpy snow and ice is always less than desirable. Now surfaces like this can be icy but not so here. Shoe Chains are a viable option in this country. There are some places on this ridge where I can see the Bear Lodge Mountains 100 miles to the east AND the Big Horn Mountains 140 miles to the west. That is a 240 mile horizon to horizon. I think that is under Websters under the definition of BIG Sky. Wyoming Shares the big sky with Montana, just not the slogan lol. I live in Wyotana so there is no difference for me. lol.
Veiled sunsets as this are best viewed from high on the ridges here in the Wyoming / Montana borderlands. I travel deep into the high ridges to find views like this. A visual alley appears in front of me, I crunch to a stop and line up the composition. I find it’s easier for these scenes to find me than me to find them. Give the ridge a walk and see what pops up is one method I have used with some success. Of course getting up there is another discussion all together lol. It’s been muddy lately so I haven’t gone up the hill until tonight. It’s frozen up there now. There is no reason to tear up the turf that took hundreds of years to stabilize. It’s one thing to drive over grass when dry, it’s another thing leaving ruts in the ground. Ranchers are the best caretakers because we don’t want to hurt the productivity of the ground. I seldom drive off the two tracks and usually dismount to walk the scene.
Of course my photo timeline is governed by where I am and what the sky is doing so I’m pretty versatile. My rig will drive across most things but snow drifts will stop me. So far this year drifts have been far and in between with the deep snow being on slope sides. Stands of Yucca brush will trap deep snow and stick the unwary backcountry traveler. I drive a very agile new Ford F150 Raptor. Built/configured just for this. It’s a wonderful upgrade to my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I carry a radio anyway 🤔📷
Traveling the high ridges one tends to get tunnel vision. You look where your going not necessarily where you’ve been. Occasionally, I will stop and just take a photo of where I just traveled from. It’s a long way back that way…
Snow diamonds falling in the crisp mountain air here is startling to see live and fairly hard to capture adequately digitally. Seeing them on the ground is about the only way to see them. The intensity of the sun detracts from the intensity of the reflections off those hexagonal ice plates. Those fall like parachutes often out of almost clear skies when the moisture is wrung out of the air mass by the cooling. The plates I’ve seen falling like feathers before with blue skies around. They lay flat and act like mirrors on the otherwise crusted snow pack.
I’m pretty sure if I got a flat tire up here that AAA would show up like Bill Murray in “Ground Hog Day” with a jack. Maybe not…. 70 miles to the nearest 4 way stop light…. Fortunately I have really good tires now and really don’t expect to pop a tire any more. Having said that driving long distances in areas where there aren’t many people traveling by is potentially wrought with hazard.
If you don’t have the ability to get yourself out of trouble, best not go there. At any one time I could pull over and set up camp right here, I wouldn’t like it but I’d survive lolol. A minus 10 rated bag at minus 10 is still not enough in my experience lol. I also carry a radio (2) and spare batteries lolol. It does get back to the base from about anywhere I drive up here.
Just NEVER leave your vehicle if you get stuck in the middle of nowhere in winter. Start yanking insulation out of your seats to keep warm with if you have to. Always have survival gear suitable to your environment.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
Close / Far perspectives lend themselves to clear skies. The details up close are of course my subject with the sunset only being an extra “hero” of the image. The totality of these landscapes in this country is staggering in their vastness and variety. Every hill crest has an entirely new world just over the top. All the hill sides are different in the angle and orientation of the vegetation living or laying. I keep a map in my head of the snags (fallen trees) that sparsely litter the hills. Treed pastures are prime hunting grounds for me photographically. The joy of being a landscape artists is I don’t have to pay models or deal with crying moving toddlers. No diaper changes mid shoot up here.
The “Golden Hour” (said with reverence) is that time of the day and hour after sunrise or and hour before sunset. The distance through the atmosphere that the light travels get greater the higher the horizon rises. Of course the sun doesn’t set, the horizon actually rises to cover the sun. Remember that things are as they are, not as you have been told or casually think about them.
I always try to keep narratives in the perspective that I’m trying to capture. Understanding how things work is key to working those things with cameras or any other way for that fact.. Knowledge is power and gives you the ability to anticipate outcomes of what ever process your involved with. Having done this a few times, makes the next one usually turns out a little better using the knowledge you have acquired in the past. Paying dues of course is the key to acquiring that knowledge.
Simple perspectives are my stock and trade. I have tried to make an art out of using the things that nature provides for me to photograph. There are so many little area of zen popping up everywhere I glance. The problem of course is there are so many and so little time so I just concentrate on the obvious stuff. Trying not to stand on my head or bend in a direction my design specifications don’t conform to. Fortunately this process involves a lot of walking on uneven ground carrying some camera weight up top. It keeps me in shape but more important it keeps me connected to the earth. Walking about is how I hunt dinosaurs in this country. Watching the earth is what I do.
Being very earth centric, I’ve spent my whole life considering geologic processes. Most are unaware of them and “blissfully” so. As a student of paleoenvironmental analysis, I see below this landscape and imagine the world that laid the sediment that eventually became those boulders. Clues in the rocks tell me books of information by their presence/characteristics. Geologists see past the beautiful sunset (enjoy those too). We imagine what processes leading to that rocks formation. I have a 3 D map in my head of the orientation of the rock layers under my feet. A useful thing to keep handy at times ….
It is somewhat complex to figure out what processes worked the sands these rocks are made of. That Hell Creek/Lance formation sand was deposited 66 +million years ago according to MANY scientists…. That’s 48.3 billion sunsets/sunrises. Actually numbers like that easily flow into my understanding of things when I imagine the inside structure of the earth, processes that occur now occurred then as well. You might say the perspective I have goes a bit under the surface of what I “look at”. Time is a 4th dimension to me. I don’t just look for fossils here, I look at the rocks to see if they are likely to have fossil in them first…..
Speaking of time, enjoy the snowy sunset and the Close/ Far Perspective.
As I am variously locked out of the backcountry by snow amounts and drifting, I tend to drive the backroads on mornings that are likely to light up. I saw the perspective, skidded to a stop, reversed and set up. I was trying to get that sunpillar centered within the visual tunnel created by the tractor tire. That tire is a “marker” as in, “drive 2 miles past the tractor tire” kind of directions. Some rancher planted this because it was easier than burying it completely. Fill up the inside with dirt and you stop the mosquito trap. It turned into a handy marker.
If I see an old “No Hunting” sign, I’ll stop just for that. Add a Tractor tire to that scene and you definitely got my attention. They on cue a sun pillar lined up precisely with the row of telephone poles running off in the distance. I don’t make this stuff up, I just capture the photons from it. Mother nature and ranchers got together here conspiring to make this composition. Neither party knew what they were ultimately up to I would speculate 😜😜👀📸
Sun Pillars are the result of falling hexagonal plates of ice all oriented flat as that is how they free fall. Like little parachutes they orient and reflect light off the gathering sunrise. The cumulative effect reflects light while the surrounding moisture absorbs it. Sun pillars can form above or below the sun itself. Here the sun is JUST below/behind the horizon. I don’t see a genuine purple sky too much but this one was real. Note no Purple snow.
There is more science going on here than you might suspect. First of all it’s about 8 minutes after sunset here. I can tell from the blue area under the pink Belt of Venus Alpenglow. The moon sits in the blue. That color is the SHADOW of the horizon. The long traveled red/pink light above the moon is the reflected light from the sun that made it back to my photon capture boxes (camera). The horizons shadow on the atmospheric Ice floating acts like a projection screen for the only color to make it that far. Ligh raveled hundreds of miles through air/dust/moisture/inversion layers bending and filtering out shorter wavelengths by those obstructions.
Long telephoto captures CRUSH perspective. Low light after sunset starting civil twilight is one of my favorite times to practice my long range skills. This was done with a fixed 400mm lens which in an ideal world, should be a standard lens in your “kit”. Most use a 100-400 zoom. Most of those are not particularly fast lenses but they work just fine under all but these conditions lol. Bigger diameter lenses gather more light than smaller diameter lenses.
Normally I would blur the windmill as 99 percent of the time it is moving. Not that it’s windy up here or anything….. IT was indeed dead calm at this moment. Problem though, even if it was moving, a blurred windmill takes a long exposure, the bright full moon takes a shorter exposure. Your only choice is to expose the highlights properly. You can’t cheat on this on in the camera though I could have done it in the digital darkroom (photoshop) easily.
The Lone Tree sees a sunset and a sunrise each day. Sometimes clouds trap all the light, the actors of the stage show have no spot to perform in. Sometimes dramatic plays happen overhead taking over an hour from start to finish. I have a tough job watching entire sunsets and sunrises as they mutate from second to second. I might take 800 photos of a particular sunrise as this. 3 or 4 images from the twilight will be finished. More images from after sunrise of this morning with different frames were equally as dramatic.
Skies as above are rare but the high ridges I work have their share. Dozens of decades under the trees “belt” , it’s perspective far exceeds our own limited memory of our travels. The complexity of our thought the tree can not conceive, but the perspective it has is beyond our comprehension.
Being a tree it has ultimately a figurative and literal connection to the land lol. I would like to think it is deeper than that. Much more connectivity between living things and the environment than we give them credit for occurs I feel. Even disconnected to nature by nurture human/me, can feel things happening an orderly manner here in the highlands. It’s probably my own psyche settling into the cycles, the yearly natural event of this place in space and time.
A tripod can come in handy in this lower light civil twilight sky. Long exposures are hard to do without them….
The higher you go in the sky, the longer the light had to travel to get there. Therefore, the atmosphere itself is the filter here for me. I couldn’t boost the saturation if I wanted to in this image. The yellow light down low is mostly due to Atmospheric Ice and the “Alpenglow effect it generates. So the Big Projector Screen In the Sky as certainly fully involved on this night.
The Peaks of the Big Horn Mountains off over to the right of “Sneaky Pete” the Photobombing Windmil are 130 miles distant. Rising 13000 feet above sea level. The Big Horns have two peaks over 13K ft and are certainly two of the highest peaks in Wyoming. Here as viewed from the Montana/Wyoming border lands nearish to Biddle Montana. Just ignore Sneaky, he’s just in it for the publicity. He’s notorious for working his way into my landscapes. His older brother is the same way (Re Pete the windmill) but lives a couple of miles into the backcountry. It’s too muddy at the moment to pursue his cooperation under skies like this. I would damage too much turf to get there.
As I type this (one week before it posts), we have a winter storm incoming. We need a series of 4 inch snows over a month to catch up on the snow debt I perceive ongoing up here in the borderlands.
This capture was a scene that we as humans could not have looked into. Our eyes have MUCH more dynamic range than the best cameras. It was so bright it would blind you in short order. The camera however has the ability to shut off light significantly. By properly adjusting your 3 setting options in Manual Mode you can see images like this much more than I used to think.
Years ago I used to think this color in clouds was a rare phenomena. Now I know that I just never saw it because I never looked into the brightness. I believe that iridescent clouds as a phenomena is not that uncommon. We just can’t normally see it for all the glare plus our defensive glance away.
This was indeed a very bright scene. Again I emphasize if I don’t have color and detail in the shadows, the camera couldn’t see it. This is because of the cameras inability to see a great dynamic range as our eyes do. I’ll give the camera credit for the ability to look into the furnace like this. This was a perfect sky for this kind of light sculpting.
The wetlands here are holding this ice in reserve. As it warms in the spring, the water trapped with in will start working it’s way down the Mississippi River. The catfish and what ever else that is living under the foot thick ice here waits for the melt. Everything is on hold till green season.
Corriente Longhorn Playing Hathor is a capture from earlier this winter. The orange/peach colored alpenglow accented by the cloud blush off the snow in the foreground.. This was a very good year for snow early but not so much now. This was a standoff. Me versus her. I just look brave as there as a cattle gate between us as I got down on my knees looking for the reincarnation of the Egyptian God Hathor.
The orange Alpenglow is the result of atmospheric ice refracting light. All with lots of help from the the red light that make it through that hundreds of miles thick filter. I very carefully expose in the camera that sky to match what I saw at the time. The cow here is 100 yards out for my telephoto to get both the cow and the sky in the same focal field.
This Cow is NOT a Bull, just having horns does not a Bull Make. This is a mother I’ve had 5 years on ranch. … Nothing is certain up here but Winter and brown season lol. This picture hopefully will take you back to that early winter day.
If you don’t have a 100-400mm lens in your weapons chest, you need to consider it. You guy lenses for generations while fancy camera backs last a few years. I’m still using regularly a lens I bought in 1995.
Tip of the day:
You need to use a pretty high f-stop to get this deep a focus. Distance from the closest object is your friend in this kind of image. Deep focal fields come at the expense of loosing light. Your already in a low light environment in twilight.
Ice Road Coyote is an unexpected Game Trail Camera Capture. I have 4 good shots of this guy walking by here on 4 different days. (so far).
There are 8 species in the Genus Canis. The Canis we know best is Canus familiaris (common house dog). This Coyote is Canis latrans.
This is a female by the looks of it on other photos.. It’s about 4/5ths the size of a full size male. Males can weigh up to 45 pounds.. I’ve known a human raised Coyote and they are a force to be reckoned with if they focus on you.
Coyotes were “Wiley” I’ve always thought.. Hunting on thin Ice isn’t the brightest things I’ve ever seen.. This particular lake is well frozen at the moment. That ice is about 6 inches thick at the moment. If the warm weather keeps this up, it’s going to mean a cold bath if not me finding a floating clump of fur in the spring thaw. I’ve seen these guys walk on thin ice indeed in the past.
I tend to 29 Game Trail Cameras currently and plan to expand that network considerably over time. They take very little work but a lot of AA batteries over the network lol. I endorse no particular Game camera as they ALL have issues with photo quality. The way they save .jpgs drive me nuts as I have to fix each and every one I publish. The only thing you can really adjust besides 3 levels of exposure/flash/distance, is placement. Set them on a post or tree and wait. I will have cameras working all winter concentrated where wildlings actually go. Natural funnels and water holes are the easy picks.
Diving into the morning low sky mist, the incoming light from that big Supermoon at perigee (closest approach to the earth) has lessened from it’s peak. .. IT had just snowed the night before. Moisture was thick in the air.
Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Tree and Moon all to line up at the same time can be challenging. …I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the moon is going to set is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up. I decide where to go early on but am flexible enough to change mid stream because I’m very mobile. Getting around in the snowy hills is a requirement for this job lolol.
I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE an alignment will occur. 😄 This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. It was however a question as to whether or not it would dive into a cloud bank that morning lol. Getting up on the high ridges is of course the place to be for such a shot. The backcountry high in the hills provide all the topography and perspective that anyone photographer could need.
Everything was covered by ice. During this winter cold morning with little or no cloud cover, the glare was excessive. The Shadows are Long with a slight down hill angle to the hill. This makes the shadows a bit shorter. However this is a VERY high contrast environment of white and black is way outside the normal photographic envelope.. Human eyes just can’t look into a scene as this without blinding ourselves. The Mirrorless Cameras I use that feed to a video screen. It actually lets me see this image BEFORE I click the camera. I can adjust the settings live real time on the screen. Love those Snow Diamonds…
There would be a star around the sun if it weren’t filtered by the branches. I way prefer cellulose filters to glass ones in front of my lens. Turning up your f-stop which is necessary in this high light environmnet has an added benefit. in this case by reducing the amount of light coming into your camera. It also gives you a very thick depth of focus.
In this high light environment, your also going to have adjust shutter speed really fast. Set your ISO really low (camera sensitivity) or both to compensate for the high light. Basically you have to shut down your camera to light. Many cameras will take a neutral density filter to accomplish this. . Your always balancing 3 different settings in Manual Mode on your camera. I use NO/zip/zero automatic settings anywhere. Not in my cameras or lenses. No auto focus, no stabilization etc. Manual photography strictly on a very modern platform. I get a pretty good battery life that way😄. Manual Mode is best.
The closest “General Store” to this old buck board wagon was 15 miles. I wonder how many times this wagon was used to drive back and forth across the backcountry all the way to Biddle Montana or to Rocky POint Wyoming. They were about equidistant from our ranch headquarters.
A drive to supplies from here in a modern Car at 60 mph car is about 20 minutes. to drive the 15 miles to Biddle Montana. There has been a “General Store” there since the first settlers moved in. There were dozens and dozens of smaller ranches settled in the early 1900’s. When little chunks of land were available for settling.
Wagons like this were the main way that good made their way from civilization to the backcountry. A couple of good carriage horses should be able to convey a carriage 20-30 miles in an 8 hour day.. Carriage horses trotted but horse pulling loaded couldn’t travel as far. Trotting wasn’t an option with a heavy load of flour, beans and oils. Don’t forget cattle supplies and machine parts for fixing broken farm equipment. This wagon made many day long round trips from dawn to dusk. Probably 12-15 hours. Rough on the team plus rough under the Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana) weather.
Weather up here is dangerously changeable. I’ve seen it drop 40 degrees in 24 hours. Dust storms, wind storms and worse lightning storms. (a place called “Lightning Flats” is 20 miles east of here lolol) You and your cargo is at the mercy of the elements. I’m trying to image getting a winters supplies of food (months anyway) in this wagon.
Heck, the supplies themselves where hauled to the general store from the rail head by horse and wagon. Early trucks certainly started up hauling that 50 miles as the technology because affordable and available. The roads then were not concrete stretching across the country. Those roads were rutted 2 track roads. Most of which were originally game trails following the easiest path.
This place is a living museum. I’m always finding old technology discarded here. Old plows, discs and a long list of old grass machines found in the “bone yards”