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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Pareidoliacs of the world Unite. I swear on a stack of geology books that I didn’t alter that cloud from how it was that day. The lighting was perfect. There area whole sequence of these photos from two different cameras but I only finished this one. When anthropomorphic faces come out of the natural chaos of things taking notice is prudent. This is indeed a telephoto up close and personal with a floating head (or at least that is what I first and still see in this).
A cloud it may be. If you suffer from Pareidolia as our ancestors did, you have a survival advantage. You see faces quicker out of the edge of the woods, or a human form at distance. In the earlier days of psychiatry, we were considered psychotic with this tendency. I consider it an ability that has been passed on to me through the generations. Apparently it kept my ancestors alive better than those that don’t as easily see faces. (or they just managed to dodge all those mid-evil castle sieges). All of us are a product of those that came before us and these tendencies are handed down genetically from our parents.
So blame your parents if you have this affliction. I must admit as a blond haired boy I would lay on a bank of grass watching the clouds make shapes more than once. Oh wait, I still do it lolol.
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.
I remember this lovely little fellow crawling about a beautifully lichen covered patch of sandstone to warm up. This was a 90 mm macro lens which at about 3 inches away was placed VERY carefully next to him with me attached to the other side. The term slow motion applied to my technique to get to this little pencil thick 6 inch long fellow in range. Then I had to get him focused. It was very bright giving this a pretty deep focus. The sun was warming the rock / snake early in the morning. Probably I looked like a big creature with one really big eye to this baby snake. I managed to catch a few good images of it.
I understand these guys make a good pet (for a snake). Eagerly taking most small prey, insects, mice, small eggs, anything they can fit in their mouth. Even wild ones handle well in my experience though they put on a good imitation dangerous snake act. They can also defecate on you when scared. They tame down significantly with handling. Generally they are not biters in my experience. Evolution blessed them with some slightly enlarged teeth that can indeed inject a week venom. This perhaps causing itching and irritation at the site. I suppose some could be allergic to it badly. Bitten by one I have not been and I’ve handled many. They get up to 3 feet long. Good Snakes I consider the species.
On a side note, I had an encounter shortly before I typed this with the 4 foot long bull snake that lives under our decks. He looks pretty healthy with lots to choose from around here this spring. No other local creature bothers him even the dogs. The cats are WAY interested but would loose that fight lol. He’s a big boy. Curiously the chickens that live in this yard haven’t killed him as they often do to rattle snakes. This summer I bet even the snakes are eating grasshoppers till they bust. I didn’t have a camera for that big boy as the lighting was non-existent under the start of a storm at the time. 😔 Both Species are wonderful snakes to have around.
Finding a Huge Mesocyclone Spinning 50 miles+ off in the distance, I’m thinking “Perspective” 📸 So I had a “Far Object’. This little Spinning top of a storm with the energy of the atom bomb spread out over it’s lifetime. This is just the right 1/3rd of the storm. I easily could have made a triptych out of the total storm. Over an hour after this capture, I was chasing this storm and indeed took a very wide composite image of the sunset projecting red on this storm. Both daylight AND twilight captures of this storm are now in my portfolio.
These storms are HUGE and are the source of most of the “bad weather ” we experience during green and brown season. Think of them as potential monsters if they roll over you. They take their own time over where ever they travel. Your going to get some big rain if your under one of these for very long. Yes tornadic activity can occur out of them. Hail is also a HUGE threat.
They make ultimate IMAX™ wide theatre screen for the filtered sunlight reflecting off back to my camera). The Sun being a big projector over my shoulder with this being the backshow more mid-day . 📸 Having passed right over us. This Mesocyclone storm cloud must have been 100 miles across. Still Blue with white clouds, the twilight colors later in any sunset timeline are a result our star projecting a smooth color gradient filtered through the atmosphere.
Driving under rapidly growing spring Mesocyclones is always an interesting time. This magnificent display of Mammatus billows coming out of the flow bands in this huge storm transcends normalcy. Though admittedly this still growing sporty “little” mesocyclone is a small one based on local standards of 100 miles across for big ones. It’ve seen them spanning the 3 states of Wyoming / Montana / South Dakota from my high ridges. It’s right at 90 miles to South Dakota east of my door step.
Monsters each and every one of these storms. They do spawn tornadic activity. I’ve only photographed one funnel up in this country over 20 years. They do occur in the county I live in. Straight line winds are aggressive at times. The average counties up here are bigger than a couple of US states. We are on the high plains weather wise… We only get one or two tornados a year within 150 miles of here as a general observation. You don’t want to be right under a mesocyclone that isn’t moving very fast because your gonna get wet there…
Big Spinning Mesocyclones are absolutely amazing storms to observe on the sunlit side. I’ve been known to follow but storm chasing is not my tendency. I’m usually running from them more than driving toward them.😜 I deeply respect hail in this country very much. We had base ball sized (3) inch hail hit the homestead in 2008. That left a few marks… Had to replace 44000 square feet of metal roof on the combined buildings here on ranch. I’m still using pieces of that old roofing for misc. projects. Works great for raised bed gardens.
This is a VERY wide image of 130 degrees or so with the top of the frame being straight up overhead. Mitten Butte in the distance center is the 300 foot tall monadnock for scale.
I was following this good looking Pronghorn Doe from below. I had a long lens on it quickly stopping in my tracks. My appearing over an adjacent ridge suddenly caused it to move. Here is the story…
Sudden appearances of scary smelly, noisy vehicles always throw a wrench into a nice day grazing in the backcountry. This is not a traditional multiple exposure. It is a digital recreation of the even placing the animal precisely on the landscape as it was recorded. The digital work alone took hours but I like the result. Thought it was worth your time as well…
SO this is ALL the SAME Pronghorn “documenting” each stop over the same patch of ground. From right to left the Pronghorn moved, stopping as the bird captured in the frame flew very close to it. The spooked doe stopped and watched it. Moved about 10 feet and watched me for a few second. From that quick glance she moved into a nervous shuffle only to stop and pee (more nervous activity). A quick circle and she was back watching me yet again. The thought settled in her mind I was a threat sitting there. Thusly she decided to head more to the left, looked over the ridge, evaluated and changed her mind. Quickly zipping back to the right where she extended and left my area.
I don’t do a lot of these….. Art, did I mention this is ART? It’s built on 9 different photographs… 😜📸 2:1 Diptych Digital Composite
I have to drive about 10 miles to get to this location viewing the Devils Tower/Missouri Butte Volcanic Neck Complex. This is a rare sunset early golden hour photon hunt. I’m not usually headed this direction in the afternoon with a tendency to go deep backcountry. This hunt was a road trip mostly watching the storm move through. My bucket list is to get a rainbow against this scene….
Devils Tower was the nations first National Monument is on the left. The “Three Sisters” (right) as they were known to the wagon train pioneers, are related to the Devil’s Tower. Related in space and time and are all remnants of ancient volcanic necks. Exposed by eroding the material away from above/around them.
Formerly deeply buried, these volcanic necks have been exposed on sand grain at a time. The “Little Missouri River” washed away thousands of feet of sediment down to the Gulf of Mexico a little at a time. Rivers very slowly but surely move miles of thicknesses of sediment to expose structures of very deep origin. The 3 Missouri Buttes the real name) is about 30 miles drive from my cameras vantage. The tower is closer to 45 miles out. View from the Northwest (the side the tourists NEVER see).
The lighting this evening was spectacular. I find you are where you are when the “Golden Hour” hits with it’s long shadows and rich earthy tones. This is big country here in the borderlands of Wyoming and Montana (looking southeasterly into Wyoming). Thousands of square miles of less than 2 people per mile population density.
This 99 Percent illuminated lunar disc has learned it is a lot of work to move all that cheese to the zenith of it’s orbit around the earth. . Resting too long will upset all the tidal charts that mariners use for sailing. Can’t have that…. Here I caught it resting in a soft grassy spot none the less. It saw me and rose to the occasion….
I find that the moon is a lazy celestial object. Always sitting down on the job. Here I caught the sneaky planetoid JUST lifting off the “Grass Recliner” it was sitting on. Who knows how long it was sitting there. I mean I only saw it move after I pointed a camera at it… I catch the old guy resting on unusual things all the time. This while walking parallel Ridges on the moon shadow line.
Missed are a million moments in time depending on the angle you find yourself observing a particular scene at. Every different angle will give you an entirely different viewpoint. I’m always looking at angles and what I have to do to achieve the perspective I’m looking for. The ability to anticipate the way things WILL happen and being there with a camera in your hand is about 90 percent of the photography game. The rest of getting the photo is reliant of your positioning before that time/space moment. My biggest limiting factor besides gravity is topography. Can’t stand with no ground under you or climb where there are no steps yet.
Everyone needs some purple in their life at LEAST once a week…
Rocky Mountain Columbine comes in many cultivars with various shades and hues from blues to reds with all the spectrum in between. A bicolor nature trends in the species. They are very distinctive if your not familiar with their bell shaped flowers. They have a huge elongated nectar spur . If you are unfamiliar with the flower, you should google it. You’ll see them hanging out in light shade. Stick your nose into one if you can as they are very fragrant.
These are wonderful flowers build/engineered to attract humming birds and phoenix moths. The same flower design prevents bees from penetrating to the nectar bearing parts. Long tongued nectar feeder get a break from these guys. Hummingbirds indeed are the most effective pollinator of the Columbine Flower. We have dozens of Columbine patches of naturalized cultivars mixed with groups that were here when I arrived 20 years ago.. The Homestead here at the ranch has seen many different gardeners over the 100 years of habitation on this site.
I’m pretty sure I’ve done more than all the previous gardeners combined lol. This is not to under cut their contributions. Built into this homestead were wonderful patches of flowers of all kinds. They were present when we moved here. We divided many overgrown clumps and get the fruit of that every spring now. Columbine are all about. Someone liked them a lot decades ago. You find the dandelion seed?
Arcs within arcs, an antique Deering Seeder under the Umbrella of a backcountry double arc of spectral refractions. There are only 2 arcs in this image. I have a very similar shot from last fall 2019 that has a much deeper vibrant rainbow. . I’m always on the look out for smooth curves and geometric shapes in an image and this one has 2 nested within 👀📸
IT was obviously raining at the time which is hazardous duty for me. I don’t go out in the backcountry too much in the rain. It is less than desirable to squish around in the fresh mud wrecking the trails and causing ruts. The difference here is I was already deep in the backcountry when this storm came up on me. In transit back to base I was until this idea popped into my head lolol. I have a map of such things and assemble composition opportunities in my head. So when X happens I go to Y location and so forth.
Getting to a particular location like this requires a recognition of the opportunity of course. I was about a mile away from this spot when that rainbow lit up. The light bulb went off and yonder I went (after I got just the rainbow in the camera lol). Rule 2 of photography: “Get the photo somehow” Rule 1 of photography is “Always have a camera with you”. I prefer about 5 as a minimum though I could get by with 2 in most cases…. With the right 5 camera/lens combinations I have access to every possible focal length from 10mm to 1200 mm. Just grab the right camera. The camera backs are all the same brand (work the same)……. 😜😜
The End of Brown Season is upon us. From now on there will be more green in my Landscapes (spring 2020).
That HUGE mile wide butte (called “W” Butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. I’m standing in Wyoming. Looking north across the border. About 30 miles distant from my camera stands the epicenter of what was at one time one of the largest ranches in the Country. Called the “W” Butte Ranch, it was big. I’ve heard you couldn’t see the edge of the ranch from that high point. I suspect that is not true. My ground was never part of that ranch to my knowledge. I’ve only seen/have deeds back to 1906 though. I’m not sure before that, pretty sure gov’t had it. Custer certainly saw that Butte on his way through here. He sure didn’t see it on his way back from the “Little BigHorn” though… A well known landmark regionally, “W” butte stands out to the traveler.
This image was captured during evening “Golden Hour” yellow light. The landscape was very spot lit that night with a high contrast dark cloud cover surrounding us. Just a small window to the sun illuminated this back show for my photon traps to catch.
That is old growth forest along that ridge with many of those trees being 50 feet or taller. There is around 500 feet difference in the elevation from the top of “W” butte and the drainage system below.
A mere 10 months ago, this Mule Deer Buck was crossing the road “to get to the other side” (according to “Sneaky Pete” the windmill). The Sweet Clover was in bloom, the bees were filling their hives with honey from it. The 4 year old buck was just starting to grow his antlers which already have a 5×5 configuration.
I know this buck as “Tweeddle Dee” because I’ve seen him do a Tweedle Dumb thing or two over the last few years lol. He also has perfect ears meaning he’s a lover not a fighter. I’ve been watching this boy grow up for the forth year now. He’s almost respectable now, has grown and generally is very receptive to posing.
I’ve been “working around” this guy for several years now and he is pretty tolerant of me. I have to be slow in what I do with my vehicles as with any wild animal. IT’s all about getting your rig to act like a grazing animal. Stutter stop, start move 10 feet, “graze a while” move some more. You have to wait to move until their attention span lessens of their awareness of you. They go back to grazing. Wait a few seconds and move another 20 feet. Take your time.
I have worked my way into the middle of several different wild deer herds precisely doing the process above. You can’t just drive up in the middle of a group expecting them not to scatter like the wind. . They would misconstrue the quick approach as a hostile act. Only the other grazers can integrate into a deer herd. So there is an art to getting really close to any wild animal but I do stay in my rig. Getting out is a bad idea across the board. Making them used to the human form is counterproductive to their reproductive processes. I get them used to my vehicles. I never get out or push them ever. If I scared them routinely, it would be a hard thing to approach the next time.
Winter “Golden Hours” can be markedly colorcast. This is the scene as I experienced it. 99 percent of the 1.2 people per square mile living in this country were not aware of this as living up this high topographically is an exception. I only know one residence on this ridge. Everyone else was under a blanket of fog down in the valley.
Here the gold light was reflective / pervasive off the white snow. The mist / fog was thick on the valley floor hundreds of feet below. This is a Wyotana backroad over looking both Wyoming (right) and Montana (left of the sun). A few miles south of the border watching the sun rise in an atmosphere saturated with ice suspended in the air. A good place in the world to see the east horizon 100 miles out. That horizon is actually in South Dakota but the ice mist here obscures it efficiently. This time of year the sun is actually setting just north of straight east. The dividing line between Wyoming and Montana is seriously blurred in my world with most of my photos having ground and sky in both states. Morning / Evening light is mostly east and west so I’m always looking down the borderline so to speak.
Yup everything was covered by Hoar Frost and Rime Snow that morning. This is very late in the stage play that was performed without much audience buy myself. By extension of my captures your there though. I see all these
Location: High Ridge (Ridge 5) along the Montana/Wyoming border.
Jumping into my photo, “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill provides a close for this “Close / Far” perspective
Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘🤘📸 Don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this…. 👀
Gotta love Yellow/golden Alpenglow. A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The Bighorns look pretty close in this image. But its taken by a 1200mm lens, this give the appearance of “SLIGHTLY” zoomed in. Resulting that the Big Horns look huge, way larger than they are in real life/naked eye. Those “hills” on the far right frame are 130 miles from the camera. They are also 13,000 feet tall ranking aside some of the highest mountains in Wyoming. The area of horizon can be covered by your thumb at an arms length.
The Big Horn Mountains are indeed distant from “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. Sneaky “randomly” photobombs my landscapes. He and his big Brother “Re Pete” are both living here on ranch. Of course they are hard core publicity seekers often managing to zip into my frames. In full disclosure I have no control over their actions. The only place I can get away from them is in the timber where they can’t follow 😜😜😜📷. (This is a years long narrative if your new to my world) Satire and all that.
Enjoy your “time off”, make the best of it you can. I’ve been working every day as hard as ever up here in the middle of nowhere. Be safe all.
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. 📸
Coyote Hunting the Shoreline .(Game Trail Camera Capture)
There are 8 species in the Genus Canis. The Canis we know best is Canus familiaris (common house dog). This Coyote is Canis latrans. This is a female by the looks of it on other photos.. It’s about 4/5ths the size of a full size male. Males can weigh up to 45 pounds. From what I’ve seen, they can bite you about 30 times per second per second.😀.
I’ve known a human raised Coyote and they are a force to be reckoned with if they focus on you.That ice was 1/2 inch thick at most. If she keeps this up, it’s going to mean a cold bath if not me finding a floating clump of fur in the spring thaw.
I tend to 29 Game Trail Cameras currently and plan to expand that network considerably over time. They take very little work but a lot of AA batteries over the network lol. I endorse no particular Game camera as they ALL have issues with photo quality. The way they save .jpgs drive me nuts as I have to fix each and every one I publish. The only thing you can really adjust besides 3 levels of exposure/flash/distance, is placement. Set them on a post or tree and wait. I will have cameras working all winter concentrated where wildlings actually go. Natural funnels and water holes are the easy picks. 2×3 aspect up to 36 inches wide.
When I try to read the early morning as to whether or not to go out to chase the light, I get about 70 percent good choices. This was a good morning, nailed it!…. Once I decide to go out 40 minutes or so before sunrise, I have to decide where to go. I usually try to follow the light so I chose to take a road trip. There are few places up high that are accessible in the muddy spring (sometimes more accessible than others). Driving across hills here will get you into some Bentonite and stick you easily miles from anywhere. I stick to the road when it’s wet in the high country.
This Alpenglow show that morning was a sight to behold for me. I don’t see many displays this intense. Ice as a projector screen becomes efficient with so much of it in the atmosphere. The rare purple colorcast in the snow testifies to the reflected lights intensity. I don’t post much colorcast snow if it didn’t actually exist at the time. I mostly produce images in a “Blue Snow Free Zone”. This is certainly an unusual light environment in cold, clean Wyoming air.
If you haven’t already, look up the term Alpenglow as it is a fixture up here in the Winter. In season, almost every visible sun/horizon crossing up here has some Alpenglow in the show. I’ve even seen it during the summer as well but for some reason, there seems to be less ice in the air during the summer.🤔😜 When there is ice, it usually falls as hail lolol.
The red light passing to the pink/red “Belt of Venus” alpenglow behind the snag pine tree. That phenomena projected filtered to red light on the ice in the sky opposite of the sun. Same effect here but on the moon.
This just the atmospheric gauntlet of dust, moisture of all phase states, pollution etc block out all but the red light. So the “Worm Moon A.K.A. Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Sap Moon, Chaste Moon or just the March Full Moon lol.
Getting topography/ hills and a celestial object to cooperate the same time can be challenging. …I know the topography I work pretty well on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the moon is going to set is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up.
I decide where to go early on but am flexible enough to change mid stream because I’m very mobile. Getting around these days in snowy or muddy hills is a requirement for this job lolol. I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE a celestial alignment will occur with what hillside. 😄 This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. Getting up on the high ridges is of course the place to be for such a shot. The backcountry high in the hills provide all the topography and perspective that any photographer could need. Having effectively unlimited access to many square miles of backcountry Wyotana is always a good thing with a camera.
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 a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Feathers contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves abound. Over the years I have found that “you are where you are during the final minutes of sunset”. 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. I WAY prefer to use natural filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here the edge reflections create a bullseye into the camera. Even a few percent light reduction helps. Any 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. 🤔📷
Crimson Cloud Roll Sunrise Driving two track roads during Nautical twilight up high in the backcountry is easier when there is only this much snow on the ridges. It still takes me 10 to 15 minutes to drive up to this location I call sunrise ridge. By the time I arrive, it’s already into Civil Twilight with maybe 15 minutes to go till sunrise.
The sky starts to light up quickly, the air is crisp, the smell of sage and pine are rife. There is little wind this morning which is uncommon. I start to feel the sunrise coming on. It’s something you can feel akin to a quickening. 👀
This was taken over a month ago in early March. We had light snow then, none now…. Dry year but mud is my current nemesis because I loath to leave tracks. I have a new vehicle now with excellent capabilities so I should be a productive spring up on the ridge tops.
Looking up this hill for proper perspective, the lower yellow band is bright alpenglow. The red from rays of the sun that made it through the gauntlet of hundreds of miles of atmospheres and moisture. The cloud bottoms were wave troughs dropping into the light and turning red as a result. As bright as the highlights are, the over all scene was dark. This you can see by the darkness of the foreground where I was sitting.
These guys are sandpipers with obscenely long bills. Since the male and female Curlews look pretty much alike with minor differences in the bill I’m not qualified to call. What I like about these guys is that they are grasshopper eating machines in the summer. They over winters in wetland marshes and other shore line estuaries. It couldn’t get much further away from the ocean as we are only a few hundred miles away from the geographic center of North America. These guys are our largest shore bird in North America. (National Audubon).
They are fussy birds if you come into their domain. Male displays over their nesting territory are impressive with loud ringing callsThey will circle about making lots of fuss trying to lead you away from the nest. I find them driving along the two track trails as I’m on the flats below the higher ridges. Mostly a flat field grassy nesting bird rather than preferring a hillside with a view as I’ve seen them.
This was a late spring snow storm from the spring of 2019. It caught everybody by surprise. Robins, Meadowlarks and Curlews were wading knee deep in the white stuff. Much to their collective dismay I’m sure. I understand that across their range, the numbers of this amusing bird are dropping with the reduction in natural grass land turned to mono-crop agricultural uses. They of course use wild non – tilled prairie to nest and feed during the summer months. A classic case of reduce the habitat and reduce the numbers. 😔
Some of the pre-sunrise drives out into the backcountry are silly amazing sometimes. It takes me a minute to get set up for this kind of location. I usually have photographed the sight a different day . This fully involved twilight sky was colorful icing on the cake from that morning’s long timeline.
The term “Twilight” means 3 different things: Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.
Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise.
Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight. In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. .
Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.
A harsh desert/arid world orbiting twin suns in the Galaxy’s Outer Rim, “Tatooine” is a lawless place ruled by “Hutt” gang lords. Many settlers scratch out a living on moisture harvesting farms. Mean while spaceport cities such as Mos Espa and Mos Eisley became as bases for smugglers, criminals, and other rogues from the surrounding galaxy. Law is what the “Hutts” say it is. This is the polar region of “Tatooine” where there are rare trees.
Back to my normal programming…
It was cold, near zero when this was taken mid-winter 2020.. This posts in late winter. The Environment in the borderlands can be harsh and beautiful simultaneously. Fall was on a Tuesday last year it has been confirmed. ❄️
The sunrise here was a clear sky with white/blue ice show which almost always pushes me toward snags to work wide lenses….Grab that 12 – 24mm or sometimes like this I have a 10mm wide angle full frame lens. I use it when ever I get a chance. It is very wide over 90 degrees so. . Perspectives and clear skies seems to go together… Cloudy complex skies detract from the detail up close. I feel that detail is the point of the photo myself but your opinion may differ lol. RegardingFallen logs:
Each has it’s own character and personality. Some are masculine and rugged like this one. Others are more curvy and feminine with a grace that is hard to describe. I know it when I see it though
Orientations to the sunset/ sunrise change from tree to tree, opportunity emerges as I drive by on the ridge tops. I see the possibilities as I go though sometimes I get on a mission for a particular tree. The air is full of ice, turning the sunset low sky yellow. I find deer beds all around this area as the big tree also provides a windbreak . Such a shelter is a rare thing. Particularly on these wind blown slopes. Soon this fairly recent tree fall will be rife with woodpecker holes. Thusly then to graduate to full fledged “wildlife tree”.
Lone against the elements, unaware of the battle ongoing around it by other plants, this Echinacea hybernates with it’s deep tap root. The winter sealing it off from the stimulus to grow.
A good source of “Anti-oxidants”. There are a few studies showing Echinacea use with a reduction in the likely hood of catching colds . Noted are claims of effects on other viruses. Claims are that it will shorten the duration of a cold 1.5 days. Other say this link is unclear. It is claimed by “test tube studies” to have anti-diabetic properties. Thus lending itself to lowering blood sugar level. This might be of interest to type II diabetics. A good bet is claims of relieving anxiety are whispered in the corridors of Walgreens™ nationwide. The anti-Inflammatory properties might be of interest to you osteo-arthritus practitioners out there. You know who you are 😔👀 They are quite a hardy plant living freely out in the backcountry. Widely distributed here in the high country. Ubiquitous anywhere out of the boundaries of our monoculture yards
Literally the ranch has millions of Echinacea plants. Known as the “Coneflower”, their purple crown of petals is ubiquitous in the region. You might say: they are native/common/widespread “in these parts”. This prolific prairie plant is one of the most used and popular herbs worldwide. It has many medicinal benefits. Roots/ upper parts use in extracts, teas, tinctures or tablets make it to the store shelves. There is a veritable arsenal of active compounds in the plant.