You might have seen small drops of water on grass, plants and trees shining like pearls in the early hours of morning. Often misinterpreted as rain left on the grass but not so much. For those of you that are learning this stuff…
Dew drops are formed due to condensation of water vapors. Air around us contains water vapors which we call moisture or humidity. Hot air contains more moisture versus cold air. At night when the relatively warm / humid air comes into contact with colder surfaces, water vapor present condenses on the cold surface in the form of droplets. These tiny drops of water are of course called dew drops.
The dew formation is enhanced when the sky is clear and reduced when it is cloudy. When the sky is clear and the trees and plants are cooler at nights, there is more evaporation of water and hence more dew formation. But when it is cloudy, trees and plants do not get cool in the night. This results in less dew formation. As the sun raises high in the sky, these dew drops evaporate into air directly.
It seems to me… We really don’t have an excess of dewey mornings here on the MT/WY border. Maybe we have more but I’m not seeing. This is after all a very dry environment. Frost is a similar phenomena but below 32 degrees.
The depth of the layer of smoke that gave me this apocalyptic image was early in the timeline that night. Keep this image in mind when I post an image of that sun setting into that mist. Here the sun is up high enough that the stepped gradient (natural not done in the digital darkroom). . Many stepped gradients from photographers are artifacts from improper digital darkroom technique. This is totally natural.
I don’t believe I have ever seen conditions worse than this. All sorts of backcountry outdoor activities are not occurring. Hard to cut wood when you can’t breath. Hard to do construction too. Some folks go about 70 percent effective under atmosphere such as this. Looks like fog, it’s choking, wood smelling smoke. 2020 is sure a mulligan year. Need to throw the ball out into the fairway and re-take the shot.
Of course, you couldn’t look into this to see it without a quality mirrorless camera. Just glancing at such a scene can do damage. I only look at scenes like this through my gear. Said camera moderates the intensity.
Disclaimer: I saw this scene on a live video screen within the view finder. I can adjust my settings real time accordingly. There is no direct light path to your eye in a mirrorless camera. DSLR cameras can blind you doing this kind of work so don’t. 🙂 Some cheaper small sensor cameras can’t take this either and doing it wrong is likely to burn your cameras sensor chip. With the full frame Sony A7 Series) I’ve taken thousands of directly into the sun images. No damage to your gear if you do it correctly. Getting your exposures too dark before you point at the sun is a good idea. Use highest f-stop and low ISO for this certainly. 1/3000th or so.
I pleased this came out of a hand held one shot camera. Taken before the last full moon, soon forest fires west of us will cover our skies with a Pall of smoke. This prevented me from working the full moon a few days. There were smoke issues weeks ago which explains the following.
Through as little smoke as possible by taking this when it was almost straight overhead. My neck doesn’t bend that way very well these days lol. Still imparted is a brownish tint to the image. This by the soot particles floating above. Quite obvious in the eyepiece of my camera. The trick is to get the right exposure to show it. I do this by comparing the image in front of me to the image on the screen. I usually have enough time to consider such time consuming activities with celestial objects. They are not flitting off like backcountry wild critters. Anything over a minute to compose or consider an image is a luxury in this game. This is why I think of myself a landscape photographer. Geologically Slow movements are a good thing to me. The moon is a relative fast mover for me lolol.
Taken with the same lens I use for some of my terrestrial close ups. Lots of animal images through this glass. It’s pretty good equipment for looking across the prairie. Not as good for Astronomic Glass Lenses used in Telescopes. (this is just a regular camera lens). Telescopic glass typically is coated differently. There is no aperture to add diffraction effects to your bright lights. Ever see rays from bright point sources of light like the sun? Those are edge diffraction effects particularly for close/ far perspective with the moon. For you techies out there, astronomic glass usually doesn’t do as well dealing with Chromatic Aberration (Sony G-Series 200-600 with a 2x in the optic path. ). I have MUCH bigger/faster optics that don’t do as well across the board for this kind of capture.
When I see these big Monsters on the horizon, heading up to the ridge tops is my destination. I have fairly long views from there. From my house, I might see about 1/2 of this from behind the ridge I stand hon. This prairie Mesocyclone was slowly rotating about 30 miles to our north and east. A Mesocyclone is a Mature BIG thunderstorm. They are HUGE.
I’m in Wyoming for this looking into Montana. This storm was worrying folks along the South Dakota / Wyoming / Montana triple state line. If effected all three states as it moved to the south east during it’s lifetime. I see about 15 of these big storms a summer. I will work all of them with a box-o-cameras given the opportunities lol. They are wonderful ever changing photographic subject that move very slowly. (unless your under them lol).
I’ve always considered Mammatus clouds as evidence that the storm is being deprived. Without daylight heating, the storms cease growing. Thusly it is slowly collapsing. Not clearly defined is the exact causation of mammatus clouds. “When Moist air drops into dry air below.”… Essentially they are upside down clouds similar to a cloud top billowing. Similar to the growing tower of a thunderstorm before the “Anvil” forms from the top of the storm traveling faster than the bottom. The bottom has friction with the ground where as the top not so much.
Here I caught Jean Doe (cousin of Jane Doe but misspelled… same letters…) with a game trail camera. Nice notched ear. You see, this was taken with a 360 degree camera that swivels internally toward movement. From detection to first click is about 2 seconds. Just enough time for a curious doe to look at the source of the whir with the corresponding click. The candid nature of the captures more than make up for the image issues from the Game Camera.
Now standard as a game trail camera capture, it’s an edgy image. . It’s a little overexposed in the sky, some movement blur on her face. None the less, I thought this was a REALLY good Game trail acquisition. Strictly an automatic camera capture too. It’s all about how you plant them and where.
It’s probably only going to be an 18 x 18 final though. Maybe smaller. But I’m loving the look of Jean’s innocent curiosity taking over. She is not perceiving a threat here. I just think she doesn’t understand how that “stump” (camo’d camera) moved and made a sound. Magic is high technology that is not understood. They get used to cars driving by but audible noise from a human contrivance is definitely interesting it seems. Her magic for the moment suffice to say. I constantly am amazed around here by unique scene appearing seeming at another’s will. Certainly I don’t do magic. I do sure as heck try to record it when it happens in front of my gear……
Boy the Land of the Rising Sun has nothing on this country. (Except Deep Sea Food lol) . Those swanky Japanese Maples are perhaps more photogenic than the backcountry Jack Pines seen here. But not much. Old growth and 60 feet tall survivors of the “big fire” back in the 1930’s. Here they bask in the colorcast smoke filtered light. The smoke from the fire all over the west. The sun size show the crushing of perspective by this long lens. Those trees are a mile distant.
These survivors dominate the ridge on the Wyoming / Montana border. This ground was more like the ridge behind them 100 years ago. No low branches is an adaptation to range fires. Those trees that loose their lower branches to heat from earlier fires do better the next time around. This growth habit is not reflected in the young progeny around the old still standing soldiers.
Living Hundreds of years on this ridge, the family here is tightly knit. I would imagine they are all related closely from a single pioneering ancestor. No doubt from way back in local early post glacial history. These pine trees of course release their seeds by way of cones falling scattered around their base. Those cones only open in response to a grass fire that is not too big, not too small. When the fire burns past, you get a generation of young pine trees that sprout up afterwards. Unless the fire is too hot. Fed by a century or more long build up of fuel in the grass. Old logs, branches and layers of pine cones.
Facts are that regular fires are GOOD for the ecosystem by regularly cleaning up the forest litter. Preventing HOT uncontrolled fires is a good idea across the board. Those fires burn the seeds they release and set the trunks of the old grown on fire destroying them in the process. Regular small fires help, large hot burns not so much. I’ve fought a few fires during my two decades on ranch. I don’t like fighting back in the woods too much. Not that I like fighting fires at all lol. Controlled burns are a GOOD thing. It spreads out the work over decades safely instead of all at once where you just loose things. This is not new knowledge. Common sense.
Those with Pareidolia (seeing faces in random scenes / patterns ish), will have a big smile from this one. I saw this cloud band and moved a mile to line this up just with this saddle lol. The outcome was as expected. The big smile above has a guys face on the right side too. It reminds me of the T-shirt “Forrest Gump” gave to the guy while running. He got splattered with Shi* running and wiped off with a t-shirt handing it to the soon to be seller of the “Shi* Happens” emoticon eventually lol. Epic movie…
The weather system that donated this to me was quite a doozy. This was early in that timeline and we were this dark around 6pm. Well before sunset. Having said that it was dark as heck where I was. A big down draft and associated hail shaft was incoming. I was trying to get out of the way. Pausing a few seconds to line this up and take the image, I moved out. “Clever Girl” purrs when the turbo’s kick in. 45 mph speed limit on the backcountry gravel. You definitely take your life in your hands exceeding the speed limit much up here. I’ve seen Deer and Pronghorn appear out of nowhere right in front of your rig. Never had a speeding ticket or a moving violation in my life. But I’ve smacked into few animals against my will.
So the storm chased me for a change and eventually caught me on the edge of the hail shaft. I was definitely dumped on by marble sized hail shortly after this capture. Probably 2 inches of rain resulting in all the drainages to earn their ephemeral ranking.
This Waxing Gibbous Moon was bright behind those clouds relative to the dark around. Some stars are in there too. This is a 5 second time exposure around 11 PM one mid-August 2020 night. Typical for a well exposed time exposure. Well saturated the colors are. The foreground captured with ambient yard light. Taken looking south off my front/south facing covered porch on Tripod… Here at ranch headquarters, give the camera long seconds of shutter open. It’s hard to tell the flag was even moving because the breeze was steady at 15 mph so it was fluttering pretty stiffly. The leaves in front effectively hide the blur. “Clever Girl” at the bottom center of the photo got in my way a bit watching the scene unfold.
I was watering the yard with a sprinkler over by the flag pole lol. I had to overexpose that area to get the rest of the image though. Our Night time, sun activated photocell now shines a modern 200 watt LED at old glory. We have kept flag lit for decades on that 35 foot mast. I put the flag pole in and have fixed it several times over that interval. It was a piece of double wall oil well drill stem pipe. It’s a strong one but the wire…. The best wires to hold the flag wear out eventually. Repair interval is about 5 years. It’s windy up here. Segue…
Speaking of wind… Those clouds are moving right along. They were running not walking through the sky that night. I did a dozen of these time exposures experimenting with where to start with regards to the moons position. When the bright moon, 1/2 a second from being obscured by cloud was shot, magic happens. That mean a differential quick cover (short exposure) of just the brightest thing in the sky. The cloud closing the light down over the moon. Timing is everything as it worked out. The time exposure gave the fast moving cloud cover a chance to blur and get satiny silky smooth. You couldn’t have seen the lit up veil without a differential exposure.
The Amount of Smoke in the air should not be underestimated here. When I get stepped gradients around the sun, there is literally a visual tunnel / window your looking at suspended in the sky. LOTS of Smoke… This is the scene exactly as I saw it. The colors are spot on. It shows the prodigious accumulated plume from of hundreds of forest fires to our west all the way to the Pacific Coast. The southwest/west is in a Mega-drought of sorts and has been for two decades. Megadroughts happen, and have happened several times in the past. This all before man became responsible for climate.
Researchers in the “southwest” compared soil moisture records from 2000-2019 to other historic drought events from the past 1,200 years. They found that the current period is worse than all but one of five megadroughts identified in the record. I haven’t read this study personally but this is from the abstract.
The paper, presented in the journal “Science” reveals the south-western US has been suffering from a 20-year “megadrought” – a period of very severe aridity that is starving rivers, stoking fires, emptying reservoirs and constraining water supplies to the municipalities of the region. Explosive Population growth and river diversion for agriculture as well as human use certainly looks to be a future problem. Millions depend on rainfall in the South Western United States.
Way up in northeastern Wyoming, our ranch is mid-continent 100 miles from the geographic center of North America. None the less the Drought monitor map has tongues reaching right up from the Southwest to this corner of Wyoming. We are definitely “enjoying” a serious lack of precipitation. Unless a Mesocyclone or two happened to run directly over you this summer. You’ve had a rough year growing grass. (our main crop).
I see this Antique Deering Seeder almost every day as it is located on a ridge with a view. Better I have all weather access to this spot. The Sunset that night was accented by the continuing fires west of us. We’ve only had one fire on ranch this year so far. That’s pretty good (knock on wood and where is that salt). This is the beginning of many smokey sunsets (since that is what is currently the rage around here). The air quality is considered “unhealthy” to endure by the powers that be. I am fortunately in an air conditioned truck except when I drive around with cameras sticking out my window. That might be hazardous duty of some sort. ☹️
The seeder has has this amazing view point for decades. Perhaps dating back to very early in the 20’s or so. I suspect it’s horse drawn nature was necessary early on. Gasoline would have been difficult and expensive to obtain. Horses thrive on the available fuel. There is a significant suspicion that much of the grass in our larger fields are resultant from the activities of this fellow. Clearing the sage brush must have been exciting lolol. Fires I’m sure played a significant role there along with a plow later. Then enters the realm of this Cadillac of Grass Planters of it’s day. Changing our environment for the “better”. Boy are there lots of varieties of grass up here now. 😜
So these two were hanging out together. They look gracile and female with nothing hanging down to give way their gender. Commonly sisters or a group can hang together. I’ve seen more fox this year than any other. I attribute “Clever Girl” to my being more stealthy.
There are some 45 sub-species of the “Red Fox”. Sorry I wasn’t closer… This was very tough lighting with all this smoke. They were way out there as well. It was a random encounter of course. I was driving back to a lake on our place as I rounded a hill, these guys first bolted, then because I suddenly stopped with engine going off, they looked back. This is classic animal behavior when you stop to play dead. Moving, you represent an immediate threat. Suddenly I was a parked truck with a big eye sticking out the side. Interesting, not scary 😜
The Red Fox are the largest of the Foxes in North America. They are being domesticated in Russia. Cool! I suspect they would be a wonderful pet as they are smart obviously. Very adaptable to change, they are widely distributed around the world. They were late comers to North America only arriving here after the last Glaciation. There was a rapid change in fauna after that time with the extinction of many megafauna. Any opening in an ecology is quickly filled. Niches don’t stay open long. Some other creature died and these guys moved in. Or some other creature may have died when the Red Fox moved in as an exotic species. Late Pleistocene species interactions are not known THAT well. WE have a lot of presence/absence data but further inference of complex relationship is somewhat more difficult to make.
Having unhealthy levels of forest fire smoke in the air isn’t a good thing generally. EXCEPT for the effect it has on light. I have been working every sunset and sunrise with a “box-o-cameras” since the smoke pall started a week ago. Taken 6 days ago.. (my current click to publish interval) This is one of the first of the SMOKEY timeline to make it’s way to your computer via a whole host of intermediate steps lol. I’d take a photo of a non-smokey sky but I’ve seen things this week that are new to me. That’s saying something as I do this a bit lolol. This is very hard core pollution by mother nature.
The stand of old growth trees remembers the smell in the air from fires to the west. During the 1930’s, this stand survived the “Fire that burned till the snows fell” up in this country. All around this area lie old snags that have not decayed in the intervening 90 years. The area between there and where I stand used to all be heavy pine forested before that fire. Remnants of trunks are everywhere. One has to be careful driving off trail here (private land all). Your likely to take out suspension driving in high grass. A low stump can make you walk miles back to the house lolol. (well there is the radio)…
The old growth trees all have lost their bottom branches. It’s hard to burn those upper branches with such a long trunk above the grass fires.
Holy Smokes (sorry bad pun). Sitting in the grassy field 15 miles from the nearest asphalt road, this old freight wagon may have been here as early as 1906. It hauled freight for decades traveling the minimum 30 mile round trip to the nearest General Store. Both Rockypoint Wyoming and Biddle Montana were a day trip from this location by horse drawn wagon.
Bulk flour, sugar, salt, cow medical supplies, canned foods, canning supplies, seeds, cloth and every other household good you can imagine. The settlers survived this remote backcountry without electricity until 1956 (I understand). No telephone until 1964. No broadband internet until I built piped it in via Microwave in 2012 where it is distributed to various ranches and a local school 30 miles distant. This place has seen it all in the last 120 years. I’ve been here 20.
Wood exposed to the elements lasts a long time here. Even non treated wood. The generally dry (a few inches a year long on being a desert) environment here preserves many things. Nothing decays quickly I know of ‘petrified animals” (cows mostly) that have died. One is well over a decade old. It seems leather is preserved a long time too. I’ve found old leather shoes in an 80 year old over bank trash pile left from an old homestead.
The mentality then wasn’t to bury non-burnable trash but to throw it over the nearest gully bank. Out of site out of mind. Mostly the early homesteaders didn’t have plastics so only glass and iron are present in the landfill. A few early ‘plastics” mostly antique car parts/pieces are out there in the old dumps. Most of the ranches today are made up of many smaller original homesteads. We have 3 original homesteads on this ranch.
This is not a crop so it’s a BIG image for a salamander lol. This guy was a good 8 inches long and more or less happy in the water it was in. The hard part was getting him to stay still long enough to focus/click. He was hunting.
Brightly colored says “Stay away” as mouthing these guys will get your pets or kids sick. Even touching and then transferring it to your mouth can be detrimental to some individuals. Pretty much nobody bothers them but BIG one eyed (Cyclops to his perspective) photographers. IT had just rained probably wetting the crack he was in enough to entice him out to hunt. They are voracious eaters. I’ve found them along with toads by yard lights at night. The insects that are attracted to the light attract the Salamanders to the area.
Taken during the day is a rare thing for me to find them out. Usually not enough bugs out for them to attack. They go deep in the white season going torpid from the cold. Suspended animation.
An ancient heritage: Their development in the Late Carboniferous Period. An “Ancestor” started gulping shallow breaths of air with primitive lungs somewhere along the line. Eogyrinus (dawn tadpole) was a thin Crocodile (ish) critter that was fairly big at 15 feet in length. Modern Amphibians are distantly related to those early forms. The early paleontological developmental history is the topic of some debate not for this forum.
When one of these Mesocylcones moves over you, the understanding of how insignificant our concerns are compared to the scale of a storm such as this. This storm was 80 miles to our north and certainly covered parts of 3 states. I’m taking the photo from Wyoming looking northeast toward Ekalaka Montana not far from the triple border area of Montana/South Dakota/North Dakota.. That is very close to the exact geographic center of the North American Continent coincidentally.🤔 (Factoid out of the blue).
I had followed this storm around a while working the light here just as the last gasps of the light of day skiffs off the hill tops. A complex cloud system 360 degrees surrounding me made for an interesting evening. Focusing here on the “backshow” of the main show over my left shoulder. Looking here to the northeast near Rockypoint Wyoming. I’m pretty sure a lot of people saw this show about 10 days before this posts. My current time from click to publishing is around that interval this summer.
I photograph a lot of weather systems these days. I couldn’t ask for a better time of day with the lighting that night. Note the top of the storm is white with blue sky. That is unfiltered light. The lower part of the storm is illuminated by the same red light skiffing off the hilltops. The late “Golden Hour” red colorcast is related to the “Belt of Venus” alpenglow colors but the cloud is the projecting screen. In true “Belt of Venus” colorcast the projector screen is ice in the atmosphere not clouds. It’s the same type of light though, all filtered of it’s shorter wavelengths of indio blue and green. Only orange through red survive to be reflected to my lenses. The colors here are true to the scene I saw. It got a LOT redder later in this timeline. The lower in the cloud, the longer through the atmosphere the light had to travel. Stay tuned for those later images. Brilliant orange stuff… 📷
Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Still early before sunrise. The pink clouds in the distance distract from the briefness of the moons remaining time aloft this morning. Going down….. My intent was to photograph this wonderful scene with the moon much lower. I decided to take this image as that misty ground haze would totally obscure the lunar disk before it touches down. (it did). The horizon rising to meet it’s apparent descent. As the earth rotates inexorably in harmony with the cosmic clockwork of the universe.
This old working ranch barn is well maintained and fairly original to it’s early design (in this country). Ranches here were settled around 1900. There were cattle drives though this country earlier than that. This area opened up when various land grant programs from the government. Dozens of families moved up into sod houses in the area. They made the paths, figured out how to get water, did some fencing with posts they cut. This area was opened up by horses pulling wagons for decades. It’s a long way to town from here. (Gillette). Probably a 4 or 5 day round trip for supplies at first. Camping on the trail was the rule of the day.
This structure is on the historic Parks Ranch to which we are a neighbor. The Parks were a class act around 1900 (and later). Taken around 5:30 AM that morning. Getting light but still twilight “Belt of Venus pink back lighting.
Slimy Sunday I guess. We had a pretty good quick rain move over and dump a few 10th’s of an inch. This little 8 inch (or bigger to 14″) Native to Wyotana Tiger Salamander Amphibian decided to come out. Must enjoy the wet while it’s about. It’s unusual to see them in the day as they hunt at night being voracious insect predators.
Known commonly as a “mole” salamander. It has been hiding down a deep crack usually next to foundations of buildings or elsewhere. Where they tend to go deep in the winter, they need some water to keep themselves properly wet. They don’t like their skin to dry out. We have some moving water between two small deck ponds that has been running for 20 years. That is a favorite habitat for them. Most lakes and ponds in the area will have these. Some can live up to 16 years in the wild.
These guys are not fast. A brightly colored creature is telling you something…. This typically means “Warning” do not eat me. It turns out that they secrete toxins all over their sky. (Don’t eat or mouth the skin). Juveniles are way more toxic than adults generally speaking. You DON’T want your dog to eat one or a toddler to mouth one of these. Depending on how much exposure to the Salamander it’s had…. You should even wash your hands after handling any creature. It’s a good idea to double scrub after these guys. The first sign is slobbering but it can lead to death.
They have a wide spread distribution and rank as the largest Salamander in North America. They might be coming out at night right under your nose and you don’t know it.
A few days a month I get a chance to get SOME light from the sun at the same time the full moon is rising. This is a little late in the timeline where there is still enough light to catch the outline of the ridge. The Full Sturgeon Moon slowly emerging from hiding behind this lone tree. IT turns out the moon is shy until it has no choice and has to be exposed. I mean it turns all sorts of shades of pink, orange and red so it MUST be shy. He might have been ducking behind that tree to relieve himself before he starts the night shift. I mean the man in the moon is obviously a gentleman trying to be proper after all.
Getting Details on Close objects and far objects in the same single photo…. A matter of high #f-stop setting which give you deep focus. It also steals light preventing it from getting in the camera. So a long shutter open time is a good thing. Not too long as it will over expose the moon, not too long as this hand held shot would be blurred. I find 1/30th freehand minimum for blur. A monopod will go 1/15th. Tripod you have to keep moving, not handy, a few seconds exposure on a moving moon. That’s not good. Basically, your walking over uneven ground, moving in opposition to the moons movements. It rises, I walk closer to the hill. It goes to the right, I move to the left. Set your ISO to get a visible image on your screen. Rule of photography 127 is “Get the photo” Damn the ISO…
For a Pronghorn Buck to allow himself to get ridge lined is always fun. When I convince one to so cooperate, I prefer there to be a wondrous Cloud Scape to back his twilight silhouette. 😜
This afternoon was one of long shadows. Only part of the sky was exposed to the sun. The Pronghorn and I were in deep shadow of the clouds further obfuscating the remaining light from the set sun. The view over my shoulder was all in dark shadow. Heavy storm clouds were on that horizon. The grounds mists further obfuscating the clear view that way.
No light worthy of your attention that way. I turn my lenses off away from the dark sky. Looking to catch the back show of the clouds in all it’s 50 mile span of landscape. But this young guy got in my way. I did actually get to move a bit but I didn’t have enough topography behind me to get the landscape lower beyond this close ridge. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to gain altitude short of standing on the roof of my truck lol. No far horizon for me this time lolol.
He was good about me moving around as there was a HUGE deep gully between our two positions. I’m thinking he was feeling pretty secure. Intrusions much closer than 200 yards usually get their attention. Even really skittish Pronghorn are good past that typically. It’s hard to sneak up on them running around in the backcountry. I’ve seen their red line humans aren’t to cross even further out.
This is my last image of the Comet Neowise this time around. In 6800 or so years, I’ll get it next pass. It is traveling on a big loop around our sun. The bluish ion tail points straight away from the sun. The curved tail of debris off the nucleus is spewing off the curved race track the comet is on. This like so many chunks of gravel from a race cars wheels. Mr. Newton would be pleased to understand that his laws still seem to work. I estimate the light from this comet took about 6 minutes to get to my lens. It was far far away. At .7 Astronomic Unit’s distant from earth, it’s almost as far away as the sun itself when I took this. It is quickly getting further away and is only visible with good gear now. . 📷
Mostly I worked this comet with medium to wide lenses. I did however pull out a big gun for about 30 minutes. First of all let me say, This is a big aperture terrestrial lens (about 6 inches) and very fast at F4. Focal equivalent of 600mm. And I got about 6 seconds of exposure at ISO 3000. Any longer of an exposure and you’ll get long star streaks. I really should have tracked the stars and done minute long exposures at f200. Coulda Shoulda Woulda and all that. I keep pretty busy when I get a once in a lifetime opportunity with such clear dark skies. 👁
Tough to get set up as it was a little windy, big lenses have a high wind profile. A tiny wiggle ruins the image. I couldn’t even see the comet in the viewfinder. I was aiming blind literally. Set the camera in the general direction, take a photo, realign the camera and try again. This took 4 attempts to get it entirely in frame. If you look carefully you can see the tree line at about a mile distant from my camera. Close far perspective lololol.
Mid-day the rainbow arch is very low to the ground. Rainbows late in the day are tall portions of a semi circle arch. Your just seeing the outside top edge of a big circular rainbow if you were in a plane looking from above. This is a pretty low bow…😜
IT looks like a sheet rainbow but that is only because the telephoto lens I’m using is looking at the base of this rainbow about 6 miles out. Telephotos CRUSH perspective by covering a LOT of distance into a small frame. There are a couple of ranch homesteads out in that country but you sure can’t see them from this vantage point. One of my limitations is the actual topography that I am on. I’d love to have a 1000 foot high peak around here with a good road up to the top …..👅 📸
This storm had a shaft of hail that JUST missed us. It did leave obvious drifts of white hail off in the distance. Way out looking across the Montana / Wyoming border just up into Montana from where I stand in Wyoming. The rainbow spans the border between the two states. I’d say the base of this bow is at least a mile wide from my perspective. The further back I get, the wider it will look within the limits of the rain area. So distance is usually your friend with long lenses. (I think that is rule #136 of photography).
This looks bad at first glance. One sees smoke rising from a structure. Trust me the century old house of the Historic Parks Ranch stands un-affected by the blaze 50 miles distant. That is just a REALLY big fire. Burning Hot in the drought ravaged Wyotana area to our west. This fire was just past the Powder River drainage on the Crow Reservation I believe. Perspectives, curved tree line, crepuscular rays and smoke plumes. PLUS an old ranch homestead with some blue sky peaking through. Very hard core, real world Wyotana in action.📷
I find that Really big fire plumes make interesting illusionary additions to background architectural constructs with in telephoto photography. Crushing distances like 50 miles versus a few hundred yards together is what telephotos do best. Add smoke, a sunset to an amazing old building well preserved and you have quite a composition in and of itself lol. I don’t get really big smoke plumes exactly in front of sunsets too often. I worked this over about 10 miles of north south backroads in both Montana and Wyoming. Those hills in the distance right are in Montana. I’m standing in Wyoming.
The most local actual newspaper from the small town Broadus Montana claimed June was the Driest on Record. I may have mis-read that. It’s durn dry here with July a bit better with all the water we got from that 30 minute long hail storm throwing up to 3 inch stones at us. Pool Table Ball sized stuff. This ranch avoided that hail storm, it went Just next door hitting us.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
In this twilight dusk capture, you can see both the updraft inverted funnel on the right feed warm air into the MASSIVE Mesocylone to my east. It spans the Montana/Wyoming border in this shot straight east. The Cold air coming down over the top left is streaking down to the front of the storm where all the action is. The rain is first as the top of the storm leans forward and the rain falls with the cold downdraft in front. As you go further and further into the storm, the strength of the updraft increases. Cold…. Thusly the hail falling gets bigger and bigger toward the rear of the storm just in front of the updraft region.
I re-emphasize… I’ve never seen such a good example of this before and I do this a bit. Far right frame you can see the inverted vortex of the up draft coiling into the storm. I watched it roil and rotate slowly snaking up into the storm. This sucks warm air up and the streaks are cold air coming back down. This is the second image I’ve posted from this timeline.
I’ve got a few other captures from this storm still working their way into my work flow. They will appear every few weeks I suspect. I’ve never seen this so well defined. So from the north west side of a growing to mature Mesocyclone, you will have the most interesting photos if the lighting is right. I will ALWAYS work thunderstorms in the evening or morning because of the lighting. We got 1/10th of an inch last night with the lightning storm. Kept everything from burning I think.
I heard lightning at 10PM last night and was going to go up hill until it started raining. Life in the Local Volunteer fire watch… (It’s called survival in these conditions. ).
This is a pretty good capture of a mid-sized mesocyclone that is sitting on the Montana / Wyoming border along Rt 59 north of Gillette. It’s a growing one that went on to cause some trouble up in Montana. Missed me by 40 miles. That is how far away that is. This gives you a pretty good idea how big that growing storm is. I’d say it’s 20 miles across with a 10 mile wide rain shaft under it. Bear in mind that these storms can grow to 100 miles across and very high heights. Forty thousand feet is not unheard of for a big storm. They do spawn tornados but we only see about 1 a year over a pretty big local area.
The biggest threat from them is hail. Large areas of grassland get flattened by big hail stones. Often the grass’s heads are knocked off leaving stubble. Property damage as I just experienced is significant if one of these goes over your ranch’s homestead. We are looking into replacing every surface of the buildings here on the ranch again. Last done in 2008 when we had some soft ball sized hail but not as much. This year we just had up to 3 inch but mostly golf ball for about 30 minutes with a 30 mph wind from the north. I keep finding all sorts of broken things.
Game trail cameras always give me problematic images. They are REALLY worth working as I have seen some AMAZING behavior and images from them. Many hundreds of them to date that are EXCELLENT situations. I’m thinking this is 256 shades of grey anyway out of that infrared camera. This capture is amazing to me but it’s probably just me. 👁 👁
This random photo could have had a buck with big antlers in it but I still REALLY like it. There are more shades of grey in this “Black and White” than most I have seen of late. (Millions of shades of grey). IT’s a little grainy and there is a 3 pixel wide white line around all of the silhouetted tree. This is the problematic part of game trail cameras. It would take hours to eliminate all those white lines in that tree. Finishing photos is my passion but I’m a busy guy lol. Catching fun contrasts like this makes all those used up AA batteries to do so worth it.
I’m not sure who said “Grey is the richest color, it makes all the others speak. Grey causes a range of emotions from the underground coal mines under West Virginia to the Stars above all our heads. Current computer displays are 16bits per RGB pix or 65,536 shades of pure grey. Most of the charts available and printed for artists/painters/photofinishes are 256 shades of grey.
A Couple of old soldiers standing on this saddle of this mile distant ridge. The perspective long telephotos give you is crushed between the two ridges here. The far ridge is 8 miles out from my camera. Sort of a “Close/Far” perspective.
These trees are old growth that survived a major fire in the 1930’s that “burned till the snows fell”. There is a mix of grass and forested areas in this region. Our ranch is about 25 percent ‘treed’ pasture. The rest is just grass and sage with a few dinosaur fossils mixed in on the surface. That is prime dinosaur hunting ground amid those small outcrops. I never know what I’m going to find walking areas like this.
Twilight Landscapes are much easier before the sky gets too bright. Photography is a light balancing act. Having your camera try to see into the dark needs a tripod or sandbag to stabilize the camera. Extend your exposure so you can get more light. Take that gained light away by turning up your f-stop to a higher number giving you a longer field of focus in return (Double edge sword) Only of course, if you want to have it all in focus instead of just those trees lolol. To sum that up: giving up light you gain with a longer exposure then taking it away by turning up f-stop to give you deeper focus…. Then you have only ISO (Camera sensitivity to adjust to give you a proper exposure.). You can also adjust for a longer shutter too if your brave.
Widely known as the “Watermellon Beetle” They cause damage. It’s about 1.5 inches long, and take a defensive pose with a hissing sound when picked up. The are a member Family of Beetles called Scarabaeidae or the scarab beetles. This one is named Ringo I think.. I’ve seen some other beetles around here somewhere too….. just saying 😀
THe antennas are the coolest ever. They have a series of overlapping scales called lamellate plates. They are very complex. IT had them folded here. Their long lived life cycle is two years between larval and adult. The larva feed on roots in the top 14 inches of the soil.
So eating on lush succulent sedum I just had to move the pot to the light. He was fine with my invasive macros in his face. Even my very bright led ringed lens that must look like the sun incoming. This is natural sunlight however. It was in and out of the clouds so the timeline was extended. I left him sitting here. They do eat foliage but after the hail, the grasshoppers and now June Beetles in July… I didn’t even have him spend the night in my refrigerator like I normally do big bugs I want to photograph lolol. One sitting, two different macro/camera set ups. Patients exemplified.
If I find many more, I will have to take action though this is the first I’ve seen this year. You have to kill them in the larval stage in the soil. We have Tachnid Flies which parasitize them and keep them in check.
This is the season of the songbird of the Prairie. Western Meadowlarks are a had act to follow if you’ve ever heard their melodic voice. The sage smell, the pollens of uniquely Wyoming/Montana plants along with the various bouquet unique to cattle grazing land.
I’ve noticed in my wanderings around the ranch that the Meadowlarks have been gathering somewhat more lately. I noticed a big group of them scatter in all directions when I crested a hill. Short of ascribing motives more suitable to a Hitchcock classic, I suggest there are simpler reasons. I’m pretty sure they are done with their mating, nesting and general main business done earlier this spring. So now they just put on weight and socialize as it were. Then the big trip south to warmer climates where they spend the winter. They are heavy grasshopper eaters….Wish I had more….. It’s hard to think about the animals already through the first 1/2 of the allotted time this year to put on weight. The green/ warm seasons are short up here.
When I normally travel backcountry I spook a meadowlark from hiding near the trail every 20 seconds or so. They are pretty equally distributed during the first 1/2 of the year. I would say there were 30 birds in 1/2 an acre area that flew on my arrival. I haven’t seen that for a while. The circle keeps on turning.
There are all sorts of characters up here on the ranch. This over looking the the now dented roofs of our home stead in our “Back Yard”, this 20 year old air pumping windmill was vent. This is what happens when you hold it in too long I suppose. One never knows what these guys are up to. I really don’t have any control over their actions thusly am just an observer. Not being sure why he was mad as he was. Sticking around wasn’t the best of ideas. I do my best to keep every body to get along. Hate to get involved sometimes. (It’s a years long narrative if your new to my world lolol).
Back to my “normal” programming. (more normal anyway).
Just to mention to you fellow pareidolia “sufferers” the large frog on the left ready to stick his tongue into the fray. There must have been a large insect off frame right I didn’t notice in time. Getting everything in frame is hard sometimes. 4 of the 5 lenses I use daily are zoomable. Every possibility is covered that way. I like to think I can take a photo of anything that I can see and somethings I cant. I only use one fixed lens and it is the widest single lens I own at 10mm. This was 200 mm at some distance from the foreground. Both types of lenses have their benefits. Generally the fixed lens has more accurate images. You have to back up to fit your subject in the lens though lolol. Not with a zoom…😜
The power and magnitude of these massive high prairie cyclones is incredible. Here it is visible over 1/2 it’s girth. The power wrapped up in the slowly growing spinning monster is equivalent to an atom bomb. That power is expended over hundreds of miles of travel. Fortunately this is usually across huge areas of low population density. When these go over big cities, there is a lot of damage.
About a 5 days ago as I type this, one of this (not this one) traveled right over our ranch and homestead. My wife has been spending her “greater” time at home gardening all spring. We just put up a 60 x 20 foot covered greenhouse this spring.
The damage these storms can do to you of course depends on the intensity and WHICH part of the storm hits you. Then how long it stays over you is a big deal. We has a LOT of golf ball hail plus SOME 3 inch (almost small baseball from our storm. That was bad enough. So it sat over us for 1/2 an hour ebbing and flowing. Some of the biggest stones were near the end too . By then I was walking around with 3 inches of heavy folded canvas for an umbrella. I was dealing with emergencies best I could. I have film of ice balls breaking through a fiberglass roof panel.
Several careers have trained me to deal with emergencies. It becomes more than a training scenario when it happened literally 360 degrees around you lolol. Hunker down, take some images and start damage assessment. Bring in the Pros…
I have some more images from the hail storm but it’s hard to get to all of them with my normal load PLUS starting the repair. They will work into my timeline’s workflow as they do.
Yes my 2020 Ford F150 raptor was damaged by this. It’s a tough truck and short of a lot of small dents on the upper surfaces mostly, only has a broken drivers mirror, a few cracked light fixtures and a hole punched through a cowling by the wipers. It’s kind of liberating in fact. I’m not so worried about scratching it somewhere lol …. 😜 Now I will see what it can do (laughing maniacally).