There is a LOT of texture on this twisted snag. It sits on a steep slope. There is little wear by cattle rubbing on it there. Cattle rubbing destroys things up here faster than freezing and thawing. I attribute most of the damage to old wood wagon wheels here to cattle rubbing against them.
It’s called “Cattle Pressure” . This acts heavily on fences and panels . Where cattle are crowded together such as corrals such becomes serious generating a lot of outward force. So this trees falling on a steep slope keeps the cattle way. If it was much steeper or wet, it would keep me away.
The Twisted pine is literally spun around. All from uneven wind loading. Branches on one side of the tree unequally are exposed to the constant wind. These are worse on the ridges. Pin trees end up getting twisted. Mostly into cork screws like patterns.
A fallen soldier like this is perhaps 80 years dead. There is only 14 inches a year average of rain a year here so rot is a very slow process. The result is very weathered surfaces and wonderful patterns that stand out well in the right light.
I’m pretty sure there is a white Unicorn in the white sun saturaturated area. A natural spirit in the sky looking left to right. I’m a victim of seeing images instantly out of random shapes as clouds or other data. This tendency to see patterns in random shapes used to be considered a psychotic symptom. Modern medicine says normal. Recognizing anthropomorphic shapes out of random data is something we have trained computers to do. (facial recognition).
The light rays reaching toward the heavens. Scientists call them Crepuscular Rays. Those photons bounce off ice in the atmosphere. The travel to my camera lens. Within the camera’s sensor, they are dutifully recoded but only as a series of 1’s and 0’s. All by the computer in the camera. There a variety of software programs (filters if you will) effect the digital signal in various ways determined by a programmer overseas. If you select automatic, those are the guys doing the camera adjustments. Try manual mode sometimes…… Only three main things to learn….. Just saying.
When ever I try to capture a fairly bright sun, I actually use no lens filter in front of this or any other of my sun shots for several years now. I use mirrorless camera gear that shows me the image on a video screen. This prevents me from being blinded doing this twice a day when I’m working photography a week at a time. DSLR cameras in contrast to Mirrorless Cameras have a direct path for light to your eye. Yup, you can blind yourself doing this once.
With the right gear rated to do this, turn down your ISO to 100 or lower if your camera will go lower), turn your fstop to the highest number of the lens your using has. (this closes the “pupil of the lens to a pin point). A LOW F-stop will open up the lens and you’ll have overexposure PLUS the tree will be out of focus). High f-stop numbers give you a long depth of focus. As well high f-stop reduces light. (sort of important looking into the furnace).
The last of the three things you adjust in manual mode is Shutter speed. This last setting is your variable with the first two setting taking priority in getting this image. It may take everything your camera has for a fast shutter say 1/3000ths of a second. My Sony Alphas will hit 1/8000th of a second for a LOT less light.
Many consumer entry level cameras don’t have enough dynamic range built in. The ability to shut down light enough is part of that.. Then you use a screw on glass filter in front of the lens. Called Neutral Density filters, available at any camera shop for your lens. Coming in different degrees of darkness, they cut down light. In my experience, they give you ghosts to deal with in the image. This is why I don’t use them..
Perspectives such as this, require a very close/far focus. That is not an easy task in fairly dark environments such as this. This very small sun slit along with a virtually veiled sunrise took place. Just before the horizon dropped exposing the sun. It’s civil Twilight still, the sun has not risen yet.. (Astronomic, Nautical and Civil are the three twilights) I consider this a tough photographic environment certainly.
I do like working perspectives in low light. It’s working several problems at once in the cameras Manual mode. Such activities are an exercise in balance of the three major camera settings you have ANY control of. (white balance excluded).
Twilight is by far the best time of the day. Not many are up seeing what is going on most mornings. I’ve seen some aurora, I’ve seen so many sky shows . Just about every possible situation short of some ultra rare phenomena. I will testify that twilight is the most varied color, capable of the full rainbow of possibilities. Only the bright greens of aurora have I not seen from twilight. Oxygen excited by the sun at 60 -120 miles high is that green. None in basic twilight that I have ever seen. The variety of scenes, the play of low angle light, leads one to take the work if you can get it lolol.
This was not a cooperative sky as that sun slit closed up thusly closing down the sky show that morning. Sometimes I drive for backcountry miles only to get a few minutes of good light. Such are the dues you pay if you play the game of photon collecting.
When the trees on the ridge 40 miles distant from my lens are in focus (more or less for the distance), the sun is scalloped and crushed The hundreds of miles of atmosphere the sun is filtering through, is distorting the suns edge. I get to watch those scallops move in real time when I set up shots like this. Big long lenses are necessary to do this kind of work.
When present, heat shimmer will create optical distortion that will diminish the quality of medium and long distance photos. trees at 40 miles is pretty hard to focus with moving air caused by heat islands in between my camera lens and the ridge. There is some distortion of those trees by the intervening atmosphere as well. Imaging anything over 20 miles I find you start running into distortions of various kinds. It’s not the lens, it’s the atmosphere.
What can you do about this distortion problem? Heat waves in the landscape are an image quality factor that you generally can’t spend money to put behind you. For example, a sharper lens and a better camera are not going to remediate the problem. . Selecting a different location, a different time of day and/or a different day completely or even a different season is often the best solution. A cloudy day with low temperature fluctuation may work for your image. Low angle moon and sun images are going to have differential heating between you and the moon/sun. Fact of physics and the environment.
I watch the sky both morning pre-dawn and pre-sunset to see if the photons emitted are worth capturing. I am always interested in layered landscapes. The series of parallel Ridges here frange from a few miles out to 40 miles for the large ridge. The biggest ridge you CAN”T see is the ridge that is cutting off the bottom of the sun. That ridge is called the Big Horn Mountains. Even though you can’t see the ridge, it stops the sunlight dead in it’s tracks. When the sun sets at this spot, it always sets above the first tall ridge (the Red Hills) as the ridge behind is a light blocker whether you can see it or not.
This is a dark capture as the sun was heavily veiled in this capture. There was so much moisture in the air as this was a day before the Dec 1 Storm Came through. Anybody else notice Oct1 and Dec1 were both big storms?? Maybe it’s just me lolol.
As I type this at 3:40 in the afternoon, 40 minutes till sunset, the scenario for sundown seems to be coming to something like this. A sunslit can be wonderful if it lights up the cloud deck above the “slit”. I will make a decision within 15 minutes of whether to go out or not. It depends on what I’m seeing as it takes me over an hour to shoot a BASIC sunset from 1/2 hour before to 1/2 after. Extended shows can run 2 hours. Me committing to 2 hours of photography when I have about 4000 images to refinish seems silly but new material is important somehow lolol.
Wide landscapes are one of my pursuits. Getting high up on a remote backcountry ridge, miles from the next closest human is usually a good photo. It’s hard to argue with hundreds of square miles of un-molested ground. When ever I travel back east, I have trouble finding 50 square feet of ground that hasn’t been effected by man’s machinations. Cleared ground is the rule here not the rare exception. The population density of this 128 square mile zip code is 124 voters last I heard. That’s one voter per square mile on average lololol.
I am standing in Montana for this image shooting across the border which is before those distant trees on the right. Wyoming Skies over Montana ground. This is many miles from the nearest ranch house. Not many have ever seen this view but myself, a few other ranchers maybe, and you. Ranchers don’t do a lot of sight seeing up in this country. If they do, it is a by product of course of looking for loner steers and cows out on the range. These are BIG pastures up here. Several square miles of pasture ground is not unusual to have a fence around.
Some nights out I drive for a few hours from place to place, roost to higher roost. Five miles travel as the bird flies can be 10 miles by land. There are no asphalt roads up here. Maintained gravel is the country road system, State roads are concrete and asphalt. The closest asphalt to this location is about 15 miles. Its’ a long way via two track roads to make it there. The country roads are a much faster way to travel. There are 10’s of thousands of two track roads in backcountry Wyoming. Matched only by the number of miles of roads UNDERGROUND in all the deep Trona mines here in Wyoming. (google that).
Picking a spot for perspective images is often a matter of thinking like a mouse. Using the camera to see reality from that mouses Perspective is what I’m always trying to do with a good sky. Close/Far captures are always a challenge. You have to have the right lighting though. Shadowss are every bit as important as the light. Keeping balance is of importance.
The Backcountry is full of old married trees. Trees that have lived together and will only divorce with their demise. The pines here have wondrully tecture bark. Add that to the perspective, the wonderful sky. that sunset dominates the background.
This was mid fall. The grass this year stayed green through August. This is the first time in two decades of living here that the seasons were so far off. We had more rain than normal and it was regular. It’s not unusual to go a month between showers in the summer. Fires everywhere this year but here. We got very lucky. Lilac were blooming on the 4th of July. As far as I can tell, everything is a month late. Well except for winter which started October 1’st this year. Fall was on a Tuesday I remember..
I spent the morning (before I typed this) clearing over a foot of snow off some two track roads. I’m blocked off now from most of my paths up on the ridges. I need to get up high Big Sky shots and back to trees like this. ” Winter is coming”. (Classical Refrence” This is the first time I’ve plowed up on ridge one. I suspect it will not be the last. More images like this incoming as I rework my portfolio📷👀
As I drive around our ranch. I check water tanks and fix fences that don’t need to be down. It’s good to keep cattle out of the hay bales for instance. I also keep a good pile of cameras with me. Each is a specialty tool with a lens on it that does a particular task. Short lenses, long lenses and many in between. Usually when an alignment of planets occurs, a long lens at a good distance is a nice application.
Photographic Musings: Buying a camera??
This cow filter worked very well to reduce the over all light reaching my camera. Not quite 1/2 of the suns disk was blocked and thus this image was possible. I really don’t like glass filters in front of my lens when pointing at the sun. (I use mirrorless cameras only please so I don’t blind myself). Calling this scene bright would be an understatement. You certainly couldn’t look at it bare eyed. The mirrorless removable lens camera displays the image on a video screen in the eyepiece or the LCD on the back of the camera. All live real time. Your settings change the image live. You know what your going to get (more or less) what you see in the eyepiece. Working a good camera on Manual takes on a whole different style.
Disclaimer: Don’t try this with your DSLR camera as the direct path of light to your eye will probably blind you. Also, some mirrorless cameras are not rated for this kind of telephoto sun shot. Don’t assume a smaller sensor camera (I use full frame Sony Alpha 7’s) will take this without burning a hole in the sensor.
So I see the wonderful veiled sky. I’m several miles in, well past an easy walk into the backcountry. (I drove my Jeep because this gear is heavy! ) This is “Re Pete” the 1930’s Aermotor Windmill. He is “Sneaky Petes” (the windmill) older/bigger Brother here on the ranch. Usually they are the photobombers working their way into my landscapes and sunsets. Here the ducks photobombed the famous photobomber him self. I have no control over any of this narrative OR the windmills for that fact. It takes on a life of it’s own😜😂
An interesting path that leads to this particular moment of space and time here forever frozen . That ridge line parallels a higher line to the east. This is VERY hilly country with big gullies separating flatter divides. Two track trails cross deep animal trails from a century of cattle walking. You don’t want to hit one of those at 20 with your jeep lol. As I say, my jeep is a short timer here now.
Incoming is a new Ford F-150 that should improve my ride quality (which is beating me up as I put 3500 miles last year on my ATV alone driving two track (bumpy) backcountry roads. I feel like I’ve worked in a mine all my life driving heavy equipment. I actually wore out a set of front brakes in 2 years on my Polaris Ranger. There are a LOT of slow downhill descents (anybody can fall downhill) on that Polaris. This business is not for sissies here in the backcountry.
I’ve only dumped ONE camera and long lens out of a moving vehicle to date. It cost 1000 dollars to fix that camera back. I feel that was cheap. Particularly compared to buying a replacement camera. The lens undamaged. I was traveling about 15 mph at the time. Then watched the unit tumble end to end. It was very close to this spot lolol.
I took this Perspective C Shaped Tree last summer. The tree is certainly an odd ball, suffered an injury early on but survived. Perspective here makes it look Huge but I’m standing about 10 feet from the tree. It was and I emphasize was a large branch. Looooong shadows here…. 👀📷
This image taken last summer. Somehow this branch “blew up” and is in a dozen pieces. I drove by this remote spot about 3.5 miles away from my house in the backcountry. . So this well be the last image of this interesting tree. We had a few high winds (high 70’s at least) this year. One of those blows probably torqued this non-typical tree to bits.
This is about 1/4 mile from some wonderful dinosaur micro-site digs that have given me quite a few Cretaceous age Dinosaurian fossils. Lots of teeth in this ground. It’s just a matter of finding them. All the vegetation is growing on Cretaceous River Sands.
Across that treed gully was a 1930 homestead that a family lived WAY back here off the county road. The father died in the 30’s of an acute appendix attack during the winter. No way to get him out in time. There are many remnants of their life around. Frames of model T trucks, old stoves, metal bedsprings, a host of metallic grace the landscape. The remains of that residence are scattered by time but the easiest search is down the sides of the closest gully to the old homesteads. There was always a place homesteaders threw non- combustable/non-reparable over the bank.
Sun pillars are shafts of light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon. This is BY FAR the tallest pillar I’ve ever seen.
I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere. A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is REALLY big. This is close to a 24mm image which is about 1/2 again the angle than your normal vision at 55mm.
The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. Big oriented plates of ice at a high angle were required for this particular phenomena. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates that fall the same way due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read that 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. I bet this is 40 degrees tall if not 45 (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).
I don’t do much poetry but that may change as I get images like this that push me that way. I’ve been watching cowboys up here for two decades. I am definitely NOT a cowboy. I do however respect the heck out of the profession. If you think you know what hard work is, try putting up a mile of barbed wire fence mid summer. How about hay bales…ever picked those up? . Have you ever had to get an injured calf away from it’s angry mother to treat it? Does anyone out there think working outside all day, driving stock, fixing water sources and dealing with horses is easy? I’ve done a little of all those things. Has anybody here chased a 2K pound bull with a 500 pound ATV by bumping his rump with it? I will personally confirm to you that crash bars are a good thing for a 4 wheeler on a ranch.
I know many people that have been cowboys all their lives. This is cattle country up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Part of the American Redoubt we are. The cowboy lifestyle as far as I can tell is as good an existence as any I’ve experienced in my 9 professional careers I’ve had during my life.
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”.
Golden Hour Sunset on Snow. When the sun is so low, slowly working left of the BigHorn Mountains here, the light is quite golden.
You would be blinded looking into this scene but the ability to shut the camera down to light changes the game.
This is an overlook across 130 miles of landscape in north central Wyoming. Looking west into the scene that the pioneers saw at the end of a long day of travel. Custer was around here, Native Americans were all over this place for thousands of years. The history here is long, many have crossed that land but daily I walk places where no human has been before.
We are up high on the ridges where there is not much running water. We find TeePee Rings, a few artifacts, stone tools, even a couple of metal ornaments (rare). There actually exists one of the very RARE Documented Clovis Man Habitation site within 10 miles of my ranch. It’s not on my land however. Those same pre-historic folks walked around the post’ glacial landscape burning/slashing/hunting/driving game for a living. I have no doubt they were walking here to some of our artesian spring locations.
When the pioneers got here, they built dams below those artesian wells and formed lakes. The natives didn’t have that option and it can be a long way between water holes when you have deer bladder canteens to carry your water for the day…
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.
Perspective: Rock Ledge Shelter is a capture that I put myself into the mind of a mouse to compose. I find that compared to scale of the backcountry here in the borderlands, I’m a mouse anyway😋 Everything is proportional which is the game with photography. This is about 2 miles into the backcountry. I know of another one that I can walk under and stay very dry. The Hell Creek/Lance formation this ledge is a part of, is not known for large caves. That’s limestone that dissolves away to make caves. This is sandstone so we get Rock Ledge Shelters here.
You can’t build a fire under one of these safely though. Many a person has been killed by rocks falling from above a fire build under a rock ledge shelter. The rock expands from the heat and a dead fall trap ensues. It will keep you dry and out of the wind though, pull up some leaves and pine needles and relax.
Angles and leading lines. I am always thinking compositions when I click the shutter. Sure you focus (last thing). You worry about your settings. (With a mirrorless camera you see what your getting BEFORE you take the photo BTW). The Proportions of 1/3rds, and a “hero” which here is the sunstar. This defraction star is light bouncing around in the lens off of the edges of the aperture (the pupil) of the lens. The aperture is known as f-stop.
You need to learn that fstop is a double edged sword. Turning it up high like this (F22) gives you very deep fields of focus from up close to infinite. The sword part is where you really shut the lens down to light (pin point pupil). A LOW fstop nubmer (f2.8 say) will give you a very narrow field of focus say the grass but not the sky. A blurry background is good sometimes but not in my landscape perpectives. By nature they are close/far focus as it’s all about the close details. The background is important yes but its the detail I’m after.
Deer Back Sun Filter Profile is one of about 6 images I’m going to finish from this 800 image timeline. There are many images that are similar but subtly different. I can’t finish all of them as many aren’t as good so….. Number 3 of 6 I believe at this post.
I was able to maneuver around on this small group of deer ruled by this buck. The glare from the sun is very significant in this rarefied light environment. Most cameras would wash out everything. This Sony Alpha 7R4 with a 600 x2 lens on it for an effective 1200 mm focal length at a few hundred feet distance. I was working the “Shadow line”. I find where the shadow of the hillside is and “go” there. Adjust for where the deer is and move backwards with the shadow as the sun sets. (the horizon is actually rising remember ).
Being able to maneuver around with the deer being unconcerned of course is the key to this. In this particular case, I was in a car. I have several sessions similar to this where I was working a parallel ridge several hundred yards away. The deer will even tolerate me away from my vehicle as long as I dress the part and mostly hide my form. I generally am dressed in heavy camo of various kinds depending on the day and how wet it is. I always obscure my human form. I’m still noisy and smelly to them though. Basically I’ve achieved “just another grazer” status with this group. I left them, they didn’t run away from me. If fact I stopped and talked to another rancher down on the county road and pointed them out up on the hill. A rare encounter on a very backcountry road.
We don’t have drive by shootings but we do have a few drive by shoutings up here 😝
Capturing Windmill Sunset 2:1 Aspect is not an easy settings combination to figure out on your camera. It is counter-intuitive to say the least and a cell phone isn’t going to catch this image. The layers of ridges , the sails blur, the rising horizon (setting sun)🤔
Montana skies on the right. Wyoming Skies on the left. Living on the Montana/Wyoming border has it’s little spiffs lolol.
There are 3 things you have to set to run a camera on manual:
1: Your first priority here is to catch a blurred windmill. The only way to do that is to set your shutter speed to a very long 1/15th of a second to facilitate the blur. That makes a longer time for the windmill sail to blur the whole disk. Your kind of stuck with this first setting priority.
2: So then you have a VERY bright sun on the left of the frame. …. …. Your f-stop will reduce light so automatically you turn it all the way to the highest number the lens will go (this was f64). I was about 300 yards out from the windmill. 800mm telephoto.
3: You will still have to turn the last thing you have to set to run the camera on Manual. ISO or Camera sensitivity . I would think not many cameras can do this because they don’t have enough built in dynamic range . I use ISO 80 for this and the camera will go down to 50. Yours will probably go down to ISO 100.
This was done WITHOUT a glass neutral density filter in front of the camera but that might help some of you that cant turn your ISO any lower.
Now you know everything I know about trying to take one of these except, don’t do this with a DSLR camera as the direct light path to your eye will blind you. I look at a video screen to do this using mirrorless cameras. Also, make sure your using a camera that can take this (is rated for it). a direct sun through a long lens can and will melt some sensors in cameras out there. Don’t melt your camera please.
Sunset of an Old Wheel which will slowly turn to rust.
Slower than wood which will quickly turn into dust.
But not as fast as the all of the rest of us.
Surely turns the wheel of life I trust.
(Frank Bliss 2019).
Snowy landscapes and clear sky sunset are MADE for perspectives. Instantly a 12-24mm comes out and I’m considering low angle long focus shots into a bright sun. The bright sun allows you to turn up your f-stop to a high number which gives you deep focus and cuts down some of the bright light from the sun. It also gives you that nice star around the sun. Those are diffraction artifacts in the photo, attractive as they are. If you had used a lower f-stop and a faster shutter speed to balance, you would have a smaller/less noticable star diffraction. You’d also have things in the foreground out of focus.
So the photo lesson: if you remember nothing else. f-stop high numbers = Long/deep layer of things that are in focus. All at the cost of a little light. I had plenty to spare of with this sun looking at me. High f = less light going into the camera but long focus.
This is an antique Plow abandoned in the backcountry probably as far back as the 1920’s. It was a horse team pulled plow. The work, the sweat, the toil behind this plow was incredible. It was used to turn over centuries old sod to make room for hybrid grass . Those same grasses are thriving in the same fields they were planted in . Those were the “hay” days of turning sage brush into hay fields .
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
Spotlighting in the Borderland Backcountry can be a very contrasty thing after a storm. This vista surprised me coming up over the ridge behind the camera. I instantly stopped of course and started composing the final frame. What dramatic contrast…. I honestly don’t see this very much this pronounced. That was a very interesting (if not cold at -2F) morning up on that ridge. It always is after a storm and the cold. That is BIG country back there.
I call this phenomena spotlighting for obvious reasons. There is about 4-6 inches of standing snow up on the ridges and I’m still driving about in my Jeep Grand Cherokee. I have a new vehicle incoming if Ford will put it in production lololol. (We have a vin now 🙂 ) Winter is coming though and I’m going to have to get plowing some snow to get up in this country. This particular spot is about a mile up a long hill to get to. Roughtly the same distance to the far ridge in the shadows with trees on it. The far right side of that ridge (ridge 4) is a full 2 tiles out. Distances are deceiving out here. The closest ranch house in that direction is about 10 miles of hills and gullies that have to be driven around. That would mean about 20 miles of driving lololol.
All of this ground in this image is underlain by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Dinosaur Fossil Bearing Sandstone. This is prime country to find dinosaurs. I found a partial Triceratops just left of the frame around the corner or a hill so I have some basis for saying this lol.
Sunburst Over The BigHorns is the solar equivalent of a nuclear burst over the 13,000 foot high mountain chain at sunset. A clear sky sun.. this was bright! The ice in the air was magnifying the sun like a projector screen.
Imagine this as a nuclear burst melting snow to vapor. This would be the scene just before you went blind ….. I think the trees on the first ridge would be smoking. You know…. Like the second Terminator Movie with Sarah Connors on the Chain Link Fence at a playground as the nuke goes off…. (Classical Reference to a SciFi Movie). I digress lolol.
This is a TOUGH light environment and on the edge of the envelope for any camera system. Looking into the sun with any gear is risky if your not using a mirrorless system and looking at the brightness ONLY on video. No direct light paths to your eyes allowed with this level of brightness. No DSLR’s. I look through a video eyepiece to set up my camera for captures like this. The term STUPID bright comes to mind lol.
There are two ridges visible in this image. The first lowest dark and treed ridge is 40 miles out from the camera and is called the “Red Hills”. They are right at the same elevation I live at. A long 130 miles to the high peaks from my lens.
The sun looks so big because the ice in the air projecting plus the distant mountains are really very small on the horizon while the sun is the same size. Further back, the mountains shrink but the sun looks bigger due to perspective. Telephoto lenses CRUSH perspective looking at an area of the sky the size of your thumb at arms length. Then they fill the image frame with it in high detail. Optical Zoom is FAR superior to digital zoom. FAR!
Lone Tree on Veiled Sun. When I get a heavily veiled sun, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out in this capture. The sun is a little further behind.
The clouds were very thick and obscuring with the sun blinking in and out from behind the veil. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. I work the “Shadow” line by driving it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”.
There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture. A fully lit sun behind this tree is a common occurrence but without neutral density glass filters in front of the camera, even these Sony Super Cameras , this would be impossible. The tree limbs would be totally washed out. I never use glass filters or even do I use a pretty much standard UV haze filter. I find they get in the way of the image more than “fixing ” what they do. A UV filter does protect your lens glass from scratches though and is probably worth it for what you would do mostly. I point cameras at the sun a lot and glass infront of the lens has been an issue in the past for me. Just saying….
Don’t point a DSLR camera into the sun. It can blind you if you look into the eyepiece and it will probably burn a spot in your digital image chip in the camera. I use a full frame mirrorless Sony Alpha 7R 2’s ,3’s and 4’s which I routinely point at the sun. Resultant… no apparent damage to the cameras over several years of this.
If your buying gear soon….
Mirrorless Cameras: I’m not blind now because I look through the a Mirrorless cameras eyepiece which has a video screen behind the glass so no direct path of light to blind you. Newer mirrorless cameras do this video thing. Older Designed DSLR’s don’t show you your image until AFTER YOU CLICK. Mirrorless Cameras show you your settings changes live on screen and you get what you see when you click not after. If your shopping for cameras, I would tell you to buy mirrorless. Particularly if you work outside with cameras. Studio it’s not critical either way.
Sun Slide Composite: Taken about a minute apart, the sun slides into the Notch between two 13,000 foot high peaks of the Big Horn Mountains.
Setting suns move from left to right as well as the earth rising up to cover it’s face, the sun fell into that Notch. I’m pretty sure he couldn’t get out because it gradually got darker and then nothing. 😝
The Big Horns Mountains only Align with the setting sun and my ranch a few days a year and only one will the sun set into the notch. I’ve been trying to get this image for 20 years .. This week I had a pretty cooperative weather window. More of these will be incoming as I get them scheduled. I do occasionally travel to extend the alignment but there are only a few places high enough to see 130 miles to these peaks.
The BigHorn Mountain range is of course 130 miles out. This is a long 1200mm telephoto shot . There is a LOT of atmosphere between my camera ant the V notch. The area of the sky covered by this image at this distance is the size of a postage stamp at arms length or smaller. These mountains are WAY out there which I can see because I’m on a high ridge. There is another ridge down in the shadows that prevents me from seeing this if I’m not high enough up in elevation. Just a few spots for this angle.
The Play of light behind these peaks that night was spectacular to watch through the long lenses I use. I watch this essentially on video. Don’t try this with a standard DSLR camera with a direct light path to your eye. You will likely blind yourself. Please be careful. I use a mirrorless camera but even then if your camera isn’t rated for this, you could damage your gear.
This is called Lone Tree Ridge Sunrise. The Clouds were such that I could point the camera into the furnace and actually see details on the edge. Such conditions where I can catch a sun surface like this are not common. The necessary glare filter here is natural cloud cover. I have a lot a captures from this morning using that veiled sun but this is one of my favorite Lone trees. It’s actually alive but it looks pretty scraggly lol.
My arrival at this alignment here is about 15 minutes too late. If the sun was lower I would have moved back from the ridge to keep the angle. Thusly more of Lone Tree would have been above the ridge . The tree is just behind the crest from this angle. Still the effect was very interesting to my artsy side so I finished the image. The yellow sun is natural as the camera saw it. It is way to bright for me to say what color it was outside the cameras protective video environment. Looking at this scene through anything but a mirrorless camera (not a DLSR) could blind you . Pick the wrong camera and you can also burn a hole in your sensor chip. Double trouble with less expensive cameras so be aware.
I worked about 15 locations over a 10 mile stretch of Wyoming Backroads that morning. It was way to muddy to go into the backcountry and tear up my two track roads. I’ll wait until it’s frozen again to venture up into the backcountry.
What I like about a Windmill Blowing Clouds Away is that it is a dual illusion image. I can also clearly imagine an “Imperial Battle Cruiser in the cloud shape. Anybody that has actually not seen Star Wars Imperial battle cruiser…. you should stay under your rock lolol. OK, I understand that there are a few people that don’t like Star Wars but I have a history with Harrison Ford.
Back in 1999, I owned a little internet ISP in Jackson Hole named Blissnet and Harrison had an email address there. I also owned the macintosh repair operation in Jackson and was on call for macintosh work. I was called into his place by one of his people. Met Harrison and worked with him on several projects. I have many stories that I could share but I will share this one.
Harrison had bought a Mac Power book and a program that he could speak into and the software would type what he says. It was a fairly complicated install with external mics and headsets. The program required the user to read just one of several options of first chapters of various books. He chose the first chapter of Moby Dick.
So Harrison Ford is sitting immediately right of me reading into his computer the first chapter of Melville’s masterpiece. I had goose bumps the size of the Tetons.😝. He was brilliant and actually performed the verse as he went. Not standing up but it was by far the best read of ANYTHING I have ever heard.
Maybe some more HF stories later as I digress at some future date…
BigHorn Mountain Sun Filter is a good a filter for reducing light into my camera as any glass filter out thre. Here the air was clear, there was some gravel dust lit up in the valley at the bottom. There were high clouds in a thin layer.
The BigHorn Mountains are 130 miles from my ranch (and this is taken on ranch). I’ve been following this angle for several days moving about 1 mile and a half north each night for this precise alignment this week. A few nights I’ve had clouds in the way but this night was perfect.
There was not excessive moisture in the air for a change. Looking into the furnace like this is a very hostile light environment for most cameras. Don’t try this at home with a DLSR with a direct optic path to your eye. I look at this through video and am at no risk for blinding.
This is certainly a unique view and I’m not aware of others trying to do this at such a distance. The little black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out (the “Red Hills”) The sky was cloudless but for a thin band as seen as my top frame for the image. What is amazing to me with this photo is the snow blowing up maybe 5000 feet off the peaks on the right.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch in Campbell County Wyoming and Powder River Montana, the Big Horns are in Sheridan County Wyoming. The sun is a bit further out there.
This is the first of 2 images I’ll post from this timeline . Remember that at sunset, the sun is actually moving sideways to the right but not quite as fast as the sun is dropping. (the horizon is actually rising). We are spinning on an axis that is tilted over 20 degrees to the Ecliptic so the sun travels at a 20 degree down angle as we spin. It me a few minutes to work out exactly where to be for this sunset. I’ll post the next image in this timeline of this Sun Settling on the BigHorns tomorrow.
Research/google the word “Ecliptic”. It is an important concept to be able to figure out opportunities as they “line up” lol. I traveled about a mile from my house for this one. I’ve been pursuing this all week. The weather window for my limited opportunity for this line up has been open all but 2 days so far. I have about another 3 or 4 days I can work this . There are so many good images from this totally nutty sky above the 13000 feet high mountain range.
I forgot to mention that I’m 130 miles distant from those peaks and that the range looks small in perspective to the sun. The sun doesn’t change size (get smaller very much as I drive to the east to get further from it. However the mountains will continue to get smaller until I can’t see them if I keep driving. (Make sense?) Further away, small mountains, sun is the same apparent size as long as I stay on the earth lol.
This V-shaped Sun Pillar over the Bighorns northern ridges was magnificent from 130 miles distant.
The Ground Blizzard on the peaks must have been intense at the peaks for it to blow so obviously. Remember the area of the sky in this photo is smaller than a postage stamp at arms length. I look into really bright little areas of the sky with my gear. 130 mils is so far that the air between here and there becomes a serious deciding factor if I can see the range or not. It’s the ice in front high between the ranch and myself that is lit up by the sunlight pushing over the saddle between the peaks. The sun is actually down for this so this is a night shot 😎
LONG telephoto shots like this are deceiving. Hold a postage stamp out at arms length and look at the horizon. This image would fit into that stamp. A 1200mm looks at very small things on the horizon. The mountains in this image are ONLY 9,000 – 10,000 feet high at this northern section of the Big Horn Mountain Range. The Big Peaks are to the left of this frame. .
This 22 Degree Halo Perspective is a really gold colored on in my experience.
I’ve seen them white before like the clouds on the right but the mid-golden hour lighting seemed amazing to me. Click The halo is actually a transmissive rainbow of sorts. Most rainbows are reflective with the sun behind you and the. This 22 degree Halo is between the sun and you.
Sun Halo’s are not uncommon but you have to look at the sun to seen them which can be a bright thing,. Usually you have to squint eyes then block the sun with your hand to resolve them against the glare. The discussion on what a sun halo is caused by would be about 300 words so I’ll leave that for another day…..
The ranch gate here I framed quite formally with a very wide (120 degree) 10mm lens. It’s a precise frame to the Landscape/ 2×3 aspect of this capture. Done in the camera not really in the crop as this is a full sized 2×3 feet image at high resolution.
A tad of Photographic musing:
Priority (working on Manual)
Your lenses will differ but this lens focuses as close as one foot . Use High F-stop as your priority. That’s a deep focal field your seeing. (high f stop numbers mean a deep field of focus for you to use but at the cost of a lot less light going into the camera. Your only able to gather light through the now pin hole in the lens’s aperture). Google f-stop and learn what it means (if your trying to learn how to use your camera. (I buy some lenses based on how close they focus at a minimum. There are ways to shorten focus distances but there are problems with that too lol.