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.
This Fawn Mule Deer is looking for those spots. Must have lost them somewhere around there. It’s been walking around with it’s head down for 10 minutes. Must be looking for something…..
Being 4-5 months old now grazing with it’s twin and Mother up High on a ridge line I call Rattlesnake Ridge. You’ve been seeing images of these guys all summer. I run into them randomly out on the ranch land during my journeys.
Love the lighting for this shot. (note the blur before and blur after. (f11 with a long telephoto due to the lower smoke filtered light levels). This clearly shows what “depth of field” is. Focus in the center, blur on either side of the focal zone. You have to think in 3-D for this work most of the time. The forest fire smoke is color casting the red here.
This fawn has not been named since it’s ears are perfect without notches. I’ll loose track of it by spring. Hopefully she will hang with her sister who has a very identifiable notch in her ear. Guilt by association at that point. I’ll wait until next spring to name this one. They change so much as they grow. Their mother is also easy to ID with her ears. Mule deer have HUGE ears. Much more so than Whitetail.
Re: Rattlesnake Ridge: Yes it is a sinuous ridge looking from above. My reason for the name is: apparently the ranches owner back in the 70’s, dynamited a rattle snake den here. Or so the story goes. Dynamite was a LOT easier to get back then. Years ago I heard a skuttlebutt rumor of an old box of dynamite sitting around on some fictional surrounding ranch. I’ve dealt with a lot of explosives over the last 10 years in my day job. I’d certainly rather not have to deal with 50 year old sticks of H.E. Probably a puddle of liquid nitro on the bottom of the box lol. I’m sure it’s a rumor… I’ll hear about it if true… (in the distant boom lolol). We really don’t have a lot of rattlers though which has been a good thing I believe.
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.
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. 😜
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.