Sunspot AR2767 is an early member of new Solar Cycle. We have had 25 complete sunspot High/Low cycles since we started keeping track of such things. The last cycle was quite anemic for numbers of sunspots versus the historic record. I’ve been watching this sunspot move across the suns face for the last few days. It’s the small dot at 8 o’clock. It’s not a dust spot on my camera’s sensor, trust me… 😜
In an attempt to explain how this works in a few sentences: The low sun spot numbers roughly correspond to increased gamma ray penetration of earths atmosphere. Fewer sunspots result in less solar wind away from the sun which keeps those gamma rays at bay during busy sunspot periods. Gamma rays penetrating our atmosphere do all sorts of things. They ionize channels of air as they pass creating lightning paths of discharge. They also create “points of Nucleation” which are condensation centers causing more cloud cover. More cloud cover cools the planet by reflecting heat back to space. (white). Gamma rays also smash through our bodies routinely but fortunately not an excess of them visit. If you ever see a flash of light with your eyes closed, either your like John Travolta in the movie “Phenomena”, or you just had a gamma ray hit your optic nerve.
At any rate this was taken with NO man contrived filters what so ever. Shut the camera down to light by turning down the iso as low as it will go. The F-stop # as high as it will go, and the shutter as fast as it will click. Say 1/4000th to 1/8000th. Have a veiled sky to help you out. Don’t use a standard DSLR with a direct light path to your eye. You’ll blind yourself. I have used Sony Alpha 7 R2 to R4’s for this. Your camera may not take this so consider a few neutral density filters stacked in front of the lens or a proper solar filter. Here I let the clouds do most of the work.
A Daddy Long Legs spider surrounded by it’s 3 dimensional home/web decorated with hundreds of condensed dew drops was a lucky find. Talk about a harmless spider. (I know, some of you REALLY don’t like spiders). Others buy them as pets. I always thought they were too fragile personally as the big spiders crack like an egg. Some of you may not know my wife and myself ran the only pet shop for 6 years in a big college town. Sold that in 1986…. (one of my 9 professional careers). I have sold a LOT of Tarantulas to Frat Houses before. They seemed to like scorpions too. Needless to say I’ve been bitten, stuck, stung, and otherwise generally chewed on for 6 years by all the exotic stuff that went through our pet store.😜 I was much younger then.
Setting the stage:
We are in the middle of a 6 month long drought. That morning was HEAVILY pea soup fogged. The sun was deeply veiled to the point of the fog filter being quite effective at making this possible. Pointing the camera into the sun to capture darker detail is the challenge. Don’t try this with a DSLR camera. Mirrorless cameras won’t blind you in the process. That is a very bright sun at the top. Looking into the furnace as it were.
So when the relative humidity hits 99.9 percent, dew condenses on any cool object. Droplets in the moving air collide with larger drops nucleating around intersections or rough points in the webbing. Anywhere there is a SLIGHT disruption of otherwise smooth air flow, frost or dew will deposit there. That depends on the temperature. For a good google this afternoon, search “triple point of water” in google and see what comes up.
Radiance: (Websters) : the quality or state of being radiant 2 : a deep pink : the flux density of radiant energy per unit solid angle and per unit projected area of radiating surface. (1 and 3 nailed this) I’m thinking that I’m digging the Flux Density here but maybe it’s just me. Of course totally square natural frames and visual tunnels always are a nice hero or two to add to the images mix.
All images are combinations of light, angle and the subject(s) of the composition. My job is to bring them together into a coherent mass… jumble if you will. Coherent being the key word. Chaos is the tendency of the world but bringing order to chaos is what I often pursue. Those are the images that somehow bring a semblance of logic to the disorganization that is so prevalent in our universe. They make sense to our minds sense of balance and proportion. Leading they eye naturally as the masters of the 16th century figured out toward the focal point of the image. Here is a sunburst as the center. Ago old technique, modern technology to look into the eye of the furnace that keeps us warm.
This “Golden Hour” capture is classic to the intensity of the sunsets in air full of ice. Alpenglow glow colors the air golden. Only the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset qualify as the “Golden Hour”.
Sunday Night I get a little philosophical… Forgive my editorial excesses… Please apply this to the appropriate world sit rep….
Just when it seems that there is no way out. Stuck in the hole. The road ahead looks impassible. I point out that nearly every problem is a matter of viewpoint. Here the situation only looks bad. My example is: Sol is in a deep hole here… Since he is about the heaviest object in the solar system, this could take a winch larger than I have here on ranch. Living on a remote ranch in the middle of nowhere has it’s preparedness aspects. I try to be prepared for most situations but this one was a bit beyond my anticipatory imaginings. Unknowable endings brings anxiety beginnings.
It’s a good thing that most problems are a result of our perspective. They are not made of insurmountable mountains in my experience. In my hideously disguised metaphor it seems the land behind our celestial neighbor dropped away smooth allowing his clean “get away” from my perception of his predicament. I just couldn’t see from my angle…. My thoughts of his delay caused a whole list of celestial consequences that had cosmic ramifications. Talk about anxiety…. Boy are we lucky. (from my perspective) 👀
My point is, get others opinions about problems that seem unavoidable and insurmountable . Others may see a way out of the “problem” that we can’t because of each of our limited perspective(s). … We have to get our minds together or we will be torn apart where we are forced by our “problems”.
Now from strictly back to my normal programming basis, Simple Photographs like this are a favorite. I think from somewhere back in the “70’s” I picked up a liking for lots of negative space with smooth gradients about. Position and timing were everything in this capture. 😜 📷
The rare thick foggy morning in the midst of a precipitation drought was welcome in this high country. The dew point had been reached during the darker hours. The net effect was a net moisture gain which is sorely needed. The strength of the gossamer iridescent spider silk amazes me with it’s natural strength. That is a lot of water for it to hold up. I suppose it’s spread out equally throughout the construction.
The sun was heavily veiled by the pawl of fog still lingering after the sunrise. I caught this early enough in the process to get the best of both worlds. Sun shape and definition through the filtering fog but yet enough moderation of the glare to allow me to image this wonder. The spider was no where to be seen as I’m sure the HUGE glass eye I stuck into his domain was sufficiently worthy of note. Thus his quick exit. I’d have loved to have had a dew covered cat faced spider attached to this lolol.
Nature has it’s way of producing miracles that escape our perception due to our hurry up and get there mentality. I have had to teach myself to slow down and actually see/recognize what the generalist in me ignores. Each of us has this ability to focus in on the details around us. Few take the time. To see what others only look at in passing, paying no mind to it, is a core achievement of a good student of photography.
This 92 percent Illuminated moon was rising in the eastern sky the same time the sun was setting. I used the same camera, same 1200mm lens at full magnification, both handheld front rested on a truck window. Taken a maybe 30 seconds apart. I took the moon image, turned around already spinning dials on the camera to choke out the excess light from the MUCH brighter sun. This is all done without any external filters on the Sony Alpha 7 platform. A Rising Moon and the Setting Sun. The sun is closer to the horizon, note the sculpted edges from atmospheric lensing distortion. The moon’s edges are crisp.
Granted it’s a big long terrestrial lens at 1200 mm. No astronomic telescope here, this is the same lens I use for bird eye brow images. This image is of course a composite of course with the two being on opposite sides of the sky at these particular moments. The sun and the full moon are “seldom” seen in the same side of the sky. 😜
Boy talk about a blank look on the suns face. Currently, the sun has NO, zip, zero sunspots visible on it’s face. We are at the low of a very quiet / low sunspot activity/number during the current solar minimums. Right in the middle of the low we are. A good google search this AM would be “Maudner Minimum”.
You might note that the two disks are essentially the same size. This is part of the reason the sun can cover the moon during an eclipse. The moon just had it’s supermoon status revoked last month. Moving a little away in it’s orbit. It’s still very large but would if in the right place would result in a ring of fire eclipse as just occurred in the southern hemisphere. These types of annular eclipse occurs when the moon is a little further away not quite covering the suns disc. A ring of fire shows all the way around the central moon silhouette.
Location: A bit over: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
The hundred year old trees and the nearly 100 year old windmill share the scene with us here. There was a time when I would take a light level reading spin some dials, maybe look up a setting on a chart using the film speed I chose for the event. It was the wild wild west and very expensive to take a photo. Then you could have to either print them yourself or on film. I got exposed to digital image processing/ printing seriously in 1989. Photoshop version 1 and Quark Express. I had opened a full prepress service bureau serving other graphic artists in Jackson Hole by 1993. It was film first then a laser drum scanner to
Complications: Translated through my lens to your computer by a host of technological innovations. Converting light photons to electrons in the camera. Those electrons recorded as a series of 1’s and 0’s. Those series are carefully manipulated inside the camera to start into something resembling a really huge number. Properly interpreted and modified by a host of algorithms under my control, that number is changes slightly to suit my sense of finish. From there, the computer file (image) is converted by a lossy compression scheme to .jpg. Then Facebook messes with it further resizing it to suit themselves.
Then and only then does the computer file that was generated by the photons from the sun hit your monitor. Your screen converts that big number from the electron stream back to photons for your eyes to receive.
So see! It’s a really simple process to go from my lens to your eyes.. 😜 😜
Often I climb a ridge only to be clouded out of a sunset. To be honest, I was worried about this particular night’s cloud cover shutting me down. Just a thin band at altitude but below it snuck out a full blown solar spotlight. I call these sun slits where at the last second, the clouds part enough for our furnace to shine though.
The cluster of buildings is the Homestead of the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. I don’t publish too many photos of the place but it’s a good scale to the breadth of this wide angle image. The largest white roof at the rear of the compound is about the size of a regulation foot ball field for scale.
The difference between an enormously bright sun and a now shadowed landscape is tremendous. The dynamic range necessary to see the extremes exceed the human eyes ability. Looking into the sun would cause you to avert your gaze. But you could probably see the landscape around it if you don’t stare directly at the sun. Cameras see the world entirely differently and not as well as the human eye. They can see into the bright better than our eyes can. They can see into the dark better than our eyes can. WHere they eyes win is being able to see both at the same time. Cameras don’t have the dynamic range the human eye has. Technology is catching up with us though. It won’t be long until the cameras are better. At least the ones I can afford to by now can’t do it.
Right into the sun Captures with layers of landscape are actually one of my favorite images. I’m not sure how many of these I’ve taken. Likely they certainly number in the hundreds. Probably only 50 or so have been finished and published from my archives of photos that need to be finished (extensive). I think it’s a 70’s thing of mine… Could be just me
I prefer to do photography without additional “filters” in front of my lens. Pointing such right into the sun usually gives me ghosts of the sun I can’t fix in the digital darkroom. If your camera doesn’t have the dynamic range the mirrorless Sony Alpha 7 versions I used for this, you will have to use Neutral Density screw on glass filters in front of your lens. Those will act like sunglasses to your camera so it can actually see what’s going on. Please don’t try to do this with a DSLR style camera. They have direct light paths to your eye and blinding has happened. The Sony Alphas are a mirrorless design that is entirely a video in the eyepiece. No direct light path to blind you.
The trick on all of these is to not overexpose the sun but yet have enough detail in the shadows to bring out the horizons. It’s a knife / razors edge of tweeking exposure back and forth. You could also adjust f-stop since it’s not as critical here but is useful for eliminating light at high settings. Pointing a camera at the sun is an exercise in turning down the camera to light a LOT before you point it at the sun (hint). Don’t burn a spot in your cameras digital sensor…. . 👀 📸
When I see high contrast scenes I hunker down and try to bring it in. High F-stop diffractions and silhouettes dominate the scene on a remote ridge line. The backcountry is full of an infinite number of little zen like scenes at any one time. I find that all I have to do is be there and mother nature will provide. Smoke in the atmosphere is a wonderful thing for photography.
I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines.
Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. 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. Don’t look into the sun with a DSLR camera.
Clouds hundreds of miles away accentuate and attenuated this image filtering the light before it reaches my lens.. Various levels of smoke from burning forests, dust and moisutre give western photographers opportunities. I am not ashamed to take advantage of it though my heart goes out to those that the fires impact.
I’ve physically fought my share of grass fires living surrounded by a giant sea of grass. Fires used to burn here from their start to the first snows putting them out. I’ve seen some tremendous sunsets as a benefit to natures actions cleaning up the dead fall that we have allowed to accumulate to dangerous levels.
I’ve said many times before that I don’t use glass filters in front of my lenses. When shooting directly into the sun, the best filters have leftddfff a ghost of the sun in my images. Offset reflective artifacts are not generally welcome to a photographer that tries really hard to be a photorealist. I will occasionally wander using lens reflections/flares in my work, but not here lol. 📷
Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Windmill and Sun all to line up at the same time while at the same elevation as the sail…..not that regular an occurrence lol. I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the sun is going to rise is a matter of looking it up on google which would be about as far north as the sun gets mid June lol.
Get a compass, a map (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up. I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE it is going to take place though. 😄
I am a real fan of pursuing close/far perspective images in the backcountry. I am standing up in Wyoming looking over the border up into Montana as the sun rises to the east/north east. The trees in the distance are in Montana. I’m one of the few photographers that can post most of the images I work on the borderlands in either states forums. I actually try to police myself if something is just Wyoming I’ll try to keep it only on Wyoming or national forums. Visa versa for Montana. The Islands of old grown trees on the ridge lines are testimony to their tenacity against fire/wind and lightning. The snag on the right lost it’s battle with lightning it seems.
So perspectives and warm mornings go together like peas and carrots. (classic reference intended). I’m not sure why this is but I’m drawn to the “close” details with a falling horizon exposing the sun.. All caused by the icy atmosphere in any of the fall winter, summer OR spring. We have alpenglow most of the year. There only has to be atmospheric ice suspended between the sun and the camera. Hundreds of miles of ice and air only let through that crimson/orange/gold light at this point. Earlier in twilight a lower angle only let through red wavelengths in twilight with crimson being the dominate colorcast that morning.
I take images with cameras that can look places your eyes can’t. You MIGHT be able to glance at this for a fraction of a second before you instinctively turned away. I watch this on a video screen and I know exactly what I just took a photo of without having to look at it. What I see on my screen is what I get here. (Actually I take very dark images only exposing highlight correctly. (If you must know). 📷
IT was very late Golden Hour Lighting and the sun was settling into a cloud deck. (thus the red colorcast… natural). I had been watching this 5x5x5 bird (5 pound, 5 foot tall bird with a 5 foot wingspan) for 15 minutes. Sitting across a pond literally on the Montana / Wyoming border, he is 50 feet up a mature CottonWood Tree. The Pond is artesian and never dries up. The birds commonly seen in marshlands in the south, are rare sightings in this backcountry setting. There is a Heron rookery on ranch so I see them more than most. This photosession was just 9 days ago as this posts.
The cottonwoods are leafing out. I could only see 1 nest in the tree line where 6 were visible a week ago. I’m worried about the huge wind storm that blew through a few days before this. I’m guessing 80 mph gusts took a few nests out. Hopefully others are just obscured by the leaves of the trees. I looked very carefully to sky other nests but could only make out one. There was a Red Tail Hawk Nest not far down the tree line that I also could not locate in the 15 minutes I was watching this timeline unfold.
Catching a bird of any size at take off is a matter of reading it’s body language. Birds OFTEN poop just before they go errrr launch (no pun intended). Then there is that Squat 200 microseconds before the feet leave the perch. Timing and anticipatory focus. I’m thinking the focal field is 2 feet deep here… maybe 3… Focus a few feet in front of where he is standing…
I left after this fellow flew the coop as the sun was going down and I was a way out in the backcountry. A few miles to go over grass fields in the dark is tricky sometimes…. .
When ever I point a really long lens directly into the sun, I’m going to get either Burnt Umber or Crimson colors. The latter was gifted to me here. You have to realize that no one knows what this would look like because you would be blinded to stare into such a scene. Using a 28 inch long lens to crush the perspective of about a mile distance from the tree pair. Shutting the camera down to light leads to all sorts of interesting effects. (mostly diffractions).
Obviously those two trees (Ents) were up to no good. Catching the sun like that trying to keep it all to themselves. Fortunately the sun had the state of mind to sneak out the back and disappear behind the ridge. The two didn’t have a clue how it got away but no matter how many times they try this, it never seems to slow down the sun very much. IT still rises more or less on time every day. Imagine if a whole forest did this at one time… think it might slow it down?
I work in a wondrous world of parallel ridges that when very mobile, allows me to find events like this to point my camera toward. By being able to move up and down topography quickly extends my ability to find such scenes. It is a truism that topography is my master. 10 feet lower, and the sun would be below the horizon, 20 feet higher and it wouldn’t be in the trees but above. Location, Location, Location…
The mother deer/fawn were aware of my presence and I of theirs. She took the initiative upon my presentation of a long lens out of my vehicles window. Getting deer to cooperate with me in the backcountry where I come into their domain is difficult at times. Finding myself down slope with a deer family ridge lined between me and the sun is less than a common event. Though I must admit that my travels tend to promote such encounters. I’m thinking they weren’t quite as thrilled as I was lol.
The fawn here with mother leading caught in a during a later golden hour. Earlier they were up higher on the ridge watching the sun go down with me. I was able to maneuver way below them set up about 200 yards out and Click JUST as they started moving lolol. ….
She is pregnant of course with this years new fawn. The yearling trailing will be cut loose as soon as the birth occurs. Then it will be on it’s own…There is a whole little deer melodrama playing out pretty much all year but you really have to watch and pay attention to see it happening. These yearling start small and work their way up the ladder to eventually run a small herd of gals.
Disclaimer: To say this was a very bright scene would be an understatement. The human eye couldn’t have looked at this for more than a fraction of a second. Certainly don’t try this with your DSLR camera. I use mirrorless full frame cameras that won’t blind you as your watching video with no straight to your eye light path. Some mirrorless cameras could get a spot melted on their chips if they aren’t rated for this so know your gear. I use Sony alpha 7 of various models with no problem. Just never even point a mirrorless camera into the sun without maximum f-stop for the lens selected as a starter. Don’t fry your eyes or your gear pointing a camera into the sun please.
Here on the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was very bright sky with a sharp sun and a dense cloud deck above the glare. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me.
To use randomly obtained feather to grace an unveiled sun is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Anything to reduce the light into the camera (filter).
Feathers contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves abound. Working cameras, my mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fast with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use what is at hand.
I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun to start with. I WAY prefer to use natural filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here the edge reflections create a star shape into the camera. Even a few percent light reduction helps operating a camera outside that normal envelope.
Any attempt at a photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You only have just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷
A lowly pond deep in the backcountry flats below the ridge my ranch is situated on. About 300 feet lower than my homestead where the Artesian Waters from rocks 250 feet underground. This water works it’s way to the surface via cracks…faults… My homestead gets water from the same formational source. But it only rises from it’s source 500 feet deep in my wells to 250 feet up the pipe. Down low topographically though, there are quite a few ponds up on this particular area as the Fox Hill Formation below is a wonderful Aquifer under pressure from up dip of the formation. Geographically, this unit stretches from Alberta to northern Colorado with analogues/ similar depositional environments further south. The western interior sea during the latest Dinosaur Era (Cretaceous) provided the barrier islands/beach for this grey sandstone with shale interbeds to accumulate.
Fox Hill Formation is a MAJOR source of ground water around big cities. BUT the water from the Fox Hill is typically diluted. IT takes purer water as it is very high in total dissolved solids (TDS). Drinking high TDS water is a good way to get kidney stones. We use reverse osmosis filters for all our drinking water. The animals drinking this are on their own and generally do OK. I did have a wonderful 7 year old quarter horse die of a kidney stone. The complications probably from drinking this water. Most animals do fine.
As the Fox Hill unit is dipping about 50 feet per mile toward the west (towards setting sun). This means that to the east it is higher giving a “hydrologic head” . The miles to the east the formation is physically a lot higher. So if you have a water bearing sandstone higher than you. Plus a crack between it and the surface, you get “spring fed ponds”. Artesian simply means that water is flowing from underground. The water flows upward to the surface because the water bearing sand is WAY above this location miles to the east. Just because water is “Artesian”, doesn’t mean it’s safe or much good to drink. It just means it’s flowing on the surface…
Some of the last snow from the winter of 2020 in mid-April. We are snow free as I post this two weeks later on March 8th, 2020.
I was driving the high ridge (Ridge1) heading back to my homestead. I had been driving parallel ridges watching this wonderful veiled sunset. As I crested the hill, I saw this scene…. stopped…. Click…. got it… then moving on to the next spot…
Two ways these form:. 1: light passing through suspended atmospheric plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. 2: Alternately, refraction from light passing through freezing moist air at medium levels in clouds. Those “mock suns’ are may form at anytime of year but obviously the cold months are best. The colors usually go from red closest to the sun outward with the standard rainbow sequence. This was pretty bright.
A tad of Photographic musing:
Priority (working on Manual) Your lenses will differ…. . 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). But all this lets you get the detail in the grass in the front AND have the sky in focus. Google f-stop and learn what it means. Focusing up close AND far with a removable lens camera takes higher F-stop.
With forest fires way to our west this last summer, some of the sunsets were seriously moderated by the smoke. Any particulates in the atmosphere will act as a defacto filter that reduces overall light along with a color filter. Low in the atmosphere, all colors but the red were effectively prevented from making it to my camera by the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Normally Yellow light would be a component of the lowest sun but not under these extreme conditions. Up higher in the sky the RELATIVELY unfiltered light was blue (ish). The smoke effecting the sky show from top to bottom. I’m not looking forward to fire season this year. It has been very dry so far heading into early summer shortly.
In all fairness, last summer was a better fire year “up here” though some local smaller fires broke out. We were wet all summer thank heavens. Unfortunately, places like California Burned but we were mostly out of the serious smoke from those events. I’ve seen HORRIBLE air quality here from forest fires west of us . We’ve had days where it was just plain unhealthy to go outside.
The only good part about the big unchecked fires brought on by mismanagement of the forest litter, is the wonderful photographs they bring on downrange of the fires. Having fought a few fires over the years, I will tell you they are terrifying. If you’ve ever seen a 200 year old 50 foot tall pine torch and was fighting that fire anyway, you might be my friend.
(Illusion of a Tsunami wave coming into the shore but it’s all clouds)
Getting just the right angle toward a sunset with the foreground is a challenge sometimes. I wander the hills sides and ridge tops of the remote borderlands of Montana/Wyoming. I the the big distances in either an UTV (Polaris Ranger Crew) or my Ford Raptor F-150. The distances in this area are such that covering a lot of ground is a necessity to find these locations. I always ride to the distant ridge but usually am walking around for the duration of what ever event I’m photographing. My timelines smoothly go from mounted to unmounted captures.
By walking or riding along parallel ridges, I’m able to see first and quickly compose these scenes. As I’ve always said, if I can see it in my environment, I generally can capture the scene in these high tech photon traps I use.
Looking into the sun is an “edge of the envelope” activity that is best left to mirrorless cameras as I use. DSLR cameras are dangerous to do this with as there is a direct light path to your eye through the camera. Mirrorless cameras have a video screen inside of the eye piece viewer. There is NO direct light path to blind you with concentrated light from the lens. Please don’t try this with a DSLR camera. You CAN capture this with a DSLR but you have to do it without looking through the camera WHILE you are taking the image. Set up your rig before you point and don’t look through your DSLR camera at the sun…
I walk miles in the backcountry as it keeps me in shape. Well it might be the 20 pounds of gear I’m hauling on deer trails😜…. I have to do something to make up for the computer time I sit on my tail lolol. Working parallel ridges with riding or walking a shadow line is the way to set up compositions that I’m using here. Look for opportunities to walk and follow shadow lines. Here in the backcountry I run into random opportunities to use the landscape for illusion and crushing perspective. Here I actually walked to the ridge top to work this visual tunnel.
There is SO much going on here. Looking through a tunnel but what to what light at the end lol ?…. The far horizon which indeed is a climbing ridge towards the sun. Perhaps grassy ridge I’m on that dominates the layers game or the far horizon. Wow, this is busy with the close and far thing too. Gotta love yellow late afternoon Alpenglow…
I am fortunate to use technology that lets me evaluate the wonder of such scenes. I see live real time images as this in my view finder. Mirrorless cameras are WONDERFUL that way. You couldn’t even look at your focus with a DSLR camera without risking your eyesight. Bright scenes and DSLR are not usually good friends.. If you don’t know the difference between the two camera types, it’s time to do some homework. Particularly if your considering a purchase. I now consider DLSR cameras as the “Beta Max” of the current production camera world.📸
Taken 8 days ago as this posts, the snow is melted, the 60 degree days of late spring have won. The mud season has relented for this morning and I was able to ascend to a high ridge. All without damaging the two track trail along the journey. The sun rose at 6AM for this capture. My itinerary for this trip up to the local roof of the world started 1/2 hour before at 5:30. I usually leave early to get most of Civil Twilight in my photographic timeline. Working the ridge all the wayThis particular morning was a 700+ image morning. I worked 12 scenes over all that will end up as final finished prints in my portfolio. From Twilight, to sunrise, to meadowlarks, deer and Pronghorn all morning. This timeline ended up with a rainbow from the storms incoming from the west this day.
I was working out of my Ford Raptors drivers window as the wind was kicking up. There was a bit of buffeting of the camera ongoing but with this much light, a little camera movement isn’t much of an issue lol. I don’t like to have a heater on as the heat waves against the cold outside can significantly distort the image coming into your camera. I try to keep the vehicle at ambient temperature unless that is just stupid to the mission. I’ve seen a few days like that at -20 or 100 plus outside. I find my tolerance of distorted images increases at those envelope edges. Perhaps it’s just old age creeping up and I’m getting wussy… 😜👅
This image was captured just as the horizon dropped exposing the relatively stationary sun. Everybody always says the sun rises but it’s really the horizon falling away. OK. This was a “sunrise” bone chilling cold. It was “breezy” this morning few weeks ago (as this posts). At 15 degrees F any wind amplifies the experience from a sweat shirt to full arctic gear. In dead calm air, -2 might as well be 50 and CAN be t-shirt weather. A Jackson Hole “Ex” resident, I’ve literally walked around in -20 on a calm day in a t-shirt.. I dress in layers and it’s a “dry cold” lolol.
Working in really cold conditions with cameras:
I’ve been up here in an open vehicle at -20 before so this was pretty comfortable relatively. Riding around with a box of 4 or 5 camera/lens in an open ATV in that temp is something I don’t like to do now. I’m getting wussy in my old age 😜
For this capture, I was walking around from place to place for quite a while. Drove up there. Usually my right had is my weak link. I wear “Red Head” Mitten/fingerless gloves. They are better than other gloves I’ve seen advertised for photographers and do a pretty good job. I always carry two pair. If they get wet, it’s time to change them. But you CAN work the delicate controls of a camera with them on.
I even had my Ford Raptor to retreat to . I prefer not to let my cameras get so cold so having them in a heated car has it’s advantages.
Working out of a car window in the cold:
You have to watch shooting cameras out of a heated car into very cold air. You can get distortion similar to a mirage that I’ve actually seen live and watched it distorting the image on the cameras monitor. The warm air and the cold air mixing makes a little distorting lens just for your annoyance. With a long lens the distortion caused by this interface CAN be significant. Each situation is different. I try to keep air flowing into the drivers window versus warm air flowing out. It’s a huge difference with long lenses.
It took me this long to get to this buried in a “to do” folder lolol. With “Turtle Butte” looking on at the scene. Me maneuvering around trying to get the angle on this totally ice covered landscape. Each twig, each sprig of grass was covered. The sunrise was “dramatic” to say the least with the “Wheel of the Year” Spinning under my feet.
I try to be in tune with the cycles of the Sun and the Earth. It is part of the job up here to connect on an intellectual level with the physics, “the Calculus” and the rest of the science of the scene. I am VERY earth centric and live with the sunsets and sunrises by necessity of chasing the light.
Opportunity tends to flitter away as it is prone to. I try my best to be aware of the sun’s progression north and south. Awareness of what’s coming can guide you to those hidden areas of celestial magic that present themselves.
On the horizons during it’s annual migration back and forth, the equinox aligns the rising and setting sun with an east west orientation. Here a straight east – west barbed wire fence creates a visual tunnel to take your eye to the focal point of the image. The sun or it’s reflection in the ice. . The old cedar post has seen many generations of cowboys and fence mending folks on ATV or pickup truck.
Close far perspective:
Frost on the wire…I totally am into close detail in the foreground in low light.. I get so excited about such simple things anymore. It’s the result of living in this remote place I keep saying. Humans are generalists when they look at a scene. I tend to look at separate components of an image for their own merit and attempt to combine multiple components when ever possible in my work. Multiple “heros” are always my pursuit for a better composition. 📸
The highlights around everything is the result of a fine coating of Hoar Frost and Rime Snow. Everything facing or exposed to the wind was covered that morning. Fog covered the valley floor below this high ridge overlook.
It’s always a challenge to capture one of the moments when a tree hangs a lightbulb down from it’s heights to light it’s way in the dark. Humans have flashlights. Trees… well…🤔😜 Those Ent’s are getting high tech….
Perhaps this capture is more symbolic of the tree plugging into our furnace for all things that keep it alive. Energy flows freely in this image. Heat transfer makes everything possible. For without that furnace we would be in a cold place on a frozen rock. All life relies on this warmth. Have hope though… if the sun suddenly disappeared in a senior Sci-Fi moment, there would still be microbes surviving deep in the earth. Warmth from below, geothermal and chemical energy providing the basics for life even then. I’m not so sure sentient life would do very well under that scenario. I might be wrong…
Bright as heck scene. IT’s hard to get much more detail out of the shadows with out technology with a higher dynamic range than I have. Right now I’m working with have the ability to resolve 15 fstops of dynamic Range . Most cameras have 12 f-stops or less. The human eye has 21. D.R. is the ability to see the brightest lights AND the darkest darks at the same time in the camera. It’s easy to adjust most cameras to do either, but not both.
Taken a few days ago. This is a VERY bright scene but the sun was indeed markedly yellow and the sky orange around the glare of the sun placed in the same focal plane as this tree. If you hold your thumb out at the end of your outstretched arm, it would cover this image area. Positioned where I thought the bulb should screw into this rare backcountry lamp post. When taking such images, shutting down the camera to light is a necessity. The lens is an 28 inch long 600 mm optic. I’m working hand held for this kind of capture. About 300 yards distant from the snag. The sun is out a bit further. 🤔
Being so bright a scene, it had some interesting light effects on the sensor and diffraction effects are rife. The particulates in the air as well as the clouds below it’s line of sight enabling only the longest red rays access to me. The bright yellow light from the sun overwhelmed and diffracted around the branches. though. Makes it look like it on this side of the tree lolol.
I never know how these are going to come out when taking photos way outside the sane photographic envelope looking into the sun as this capture. Settings you must consider looking it a scene is a fast shutter so going freehand is easy. You need ISO low low numbers and fstop as high as you need to enable both snag/sun to be in the same focal field.. The higher f – stop will give you a deep depth of field but will tend to cause those diffraction effects where the light wraps around and hides the branches.
This landscape is thirsting for the water from the weather that was moving through this morning. I drive out to the high ridges to achieve these views to the east. This is actually an image of both Wyoming and Montana ground. I’m standing on the line looking almost straight east for this spring time sunrise. This is probably not THE last Gasp but certainly one of the last for the winter of 2019 / 2020 up here in the MT/Wy borderlands. We are still dry unfortunately. Maybe these next “Last Gasps” will fill the run off ponds with melt water.
The land under my feet is the cover of dinosaur graves. The sand on which I stand has traveled by huge rivers from mountains to the west long since eroded. Here the sand sits waiting for it’s turn to be transported to the sea. Rivers do this effectively one grain at a time but rivers have a lot of time and a lot of grains at once. Freeze, thaw and freeze again, wetting, drying all take their toll on boulders given their way. Breaking big into small. I occasionally see large boulders fracture and split. A piece often falling to the side. All the work of the weather in this photo along with the millions of snows/freezes to come before.
Geologists try to see things in perspective. I have this problem of seeing this image in my head with my minds eye superimposing the sub-surface geology onto the scene. The Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation (left) and the Lance Formation (right) are the same rock formation on either side of the MT/WY border. Lance is Wyoming, Hell Creek over MT/SD/ND. All the same depositional environment more or less. Big rivers running down slope east to the Epicontinental Ocean that was sitting to our east. Just the latest time an ocean sat over what sediment we live on. . It’s happened many times before in Geologic History depending on where you happen to be.
Snowy days on the high ridges of the WY/MT border lands are rarer in the spring than mid winter. We do get some interesting snow squalls and falls during the spring. Winter storms in the spring impact right during calving season here in cattle country. This can be less than convenient to the rancher with new born calves falling out into snow covered frozen ground.
Your all mostly aware I have this photobombing windmill that gets into my landscapes now and then. Just ignore him. He’s handy for scale here though I must admit. The snow was obscuring most of the horizon coming down in shafts of different opacities. Overall it was an amazing sky but it was not very long lived with the sun setting within the minute. Without the direct flashlight beam, the sky shows intensity fell drastically over time with the set. It was very dark when I took this shot with just the yellow rays of the sun making it through the atmospheric gauntlet.
As I type this, a spring storm dumped about 5 inches on us last night. We needed the moisture badly as it has been a dry winter and particularly a dry spring. Receiving only 14 inches of water a year in this high almost desert land, we appreciate most precipitation event and await them eagerly. I seldom complain about rain or snow…
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, both sides of the Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill ( a long running narrative if your new to my world), has actually caged the sun itself. Once the sun found itself captured, it soon had enough, proceeded to sneak out the back and down behind the horizon. You could plainly see “Sneaky’s” confusion as the sun disappeared in the gathering dark. I’m sure he tries this every night but usually no one else is around to see it. Definition of insanity is to expect a different outcome the third time. I’ve wondered about his state of mind before 😜👀
Being a highly coordinated fellow to survive in the high wind environment “Sneaky” was “raised” in. Some “lubrication” may be involved. That being said, he is notorious for photobombing my landscapes, ‘lubricated’ or not…. Appearing in a highly disproportionate number of captures in my portfolio.
It’s not his fault, having an obsession with publicity is a disorder of course. A long time ago we had an agreement that he do his job and I’ll do mine. “Sneaky” apparently thought his job was to photobomb my job which is to take Landscape photos. So I end up taking his photo often as he desires. I think he works out some deals with the Pronghorns and the Deer to pose for me sometimes so I tolerate this regular transgression. Good thing I have a fence around my homestead or ol’ “Sneaky” would be down in my yard too…..
These three Great Blue Herons are a mated pair and a third. The pair is busy building a nest, the third is waiting for it’s mate that is off fishing. Perched in their nest for the next few months there. Soon the yet to leaf Cottonwood Tree supporting them will conceal them. Soon hidden behind the canopy of this 50 foot tall tree. They have an amazing view up there until then. Sitting above a lake high in the Montana / Wyoming borderlands.
The Great Blue Heron is a wide spread species ranging to exotic places like the Caribbean, the Galapago’s Islands and the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch lolol. Now why several mating pairs (6) hang out up here about 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole, or in the Galapagos….hummm Choices. 😂 Actually there are a lot of frogs and fish in the waters up here and I don’t see them skinny lol. They usually raise 5 or 6 chicks and head out.
The rookery is adjacent to a tall grassy hill such that I can get an angle at the tree top level. This from about 150 -300 yards away depending on the angle. I have some serious good images of Blue Herons taken over the years both sunrise and sunset. This wetlands is one of a few on our remote highland ranch. The lake is a spring fed ponded behind an early 1900’s dam. Water from the Fox Hill Sandstone 200 feet below seeping through a crack to the surface. I’ve never seen that lake dry.