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.
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……
The First Quarter Moon has risen 1/2 an hour too early to be in the optimal position for me here. It’s still mostly a rule of thirds composition lol. This was taken in mid Civil Twilight. Roughly 15 minutes after scheduled sunset. There were additionally a host of storms behind me to my west. I was in a dark environment looking at a 30K foot high+ projector screen. That reflecting the “Belt of Venus” color gradient back to my photon capture boxes.
The Mammatus usually means a collapsing storm but they can be affiliated with serious weather. Being under this monster would have been less than desirable unless you get lucky to get just rain. It does happen. I might be hyper-sensitive to hail after watching chickens egg sized hard ice fall with all other sizes below for 1/2 an hour this July. These guys ruin insurance agents profit/loss ratios in the summer. They can certainly cause massive damage in their wake. That storm has as much energy as a small atomic weapon wound up in it’s rotation. There is a LOT of mass there too remember. I wonder how many gallons of water is suspended up there … humm.
A generic thunderstorm cloud contains enough water drops to fill up a 275 million gallon container. That’s around 2.3 billion pounds of water. Alternately = 1.1 million tons of water. Assuming a thunderstorm produced one inch of rain over one square mile. This would be 17.4 million gallons of water . Weighing 143 million pounds. Amounting to around 72,000 tons). Heavier than air all of it. Lots of energy to keep it all suspended up there eh?
Sometimes the lighting just has to control your compositions. Backlighting makes it difficult to capture detail on the shaded side. Many cameras cannot discern the subtle textures and shades of brown/black in the shade. Literally the gear makes the difference in a capture in this lighting environment. You get what you pay for is very true with cameras unfortunately.
The Whitetail mother deer well fed from her forays out onto it’s ranchland, is browsing for edibles closer to her water source. Our corrals have water 24/7/365 for them and have for two decades. This mother was raised here and her mother before, rinse and repeat. Raised on water we pump out of Cretaceous Beach Sand. The dinosaur having walked on it a few years back. Walking on corral that was bull dozed in the mid-1960’s on top of an old Cretaceous River Sand and associated shales. Those shales are complete with leaf fossils from the surrounding forest.
The deer of course is not concerned what she is walking on or where the water comes from. She is concerned with the moment. The flow of her life will provide the direction she needs past the present. All without much consideration on her part. The circle is turning for her. It’s humans that concern ourselves with the price of things next week. The consequences of our actions are a grey area to us. I’m pretty sure a deer has a definite understanding of right and wrong choices. Wrong always has a bad ending to a deer. Being grey, human feel luckier and somehow above it. But the circle is always turning. 👀
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.
I am pretty sure there are 100 narratives that could apply to this face. Priceless. I find deer are quite expressive in their looks. Eyes open wider with interest. Ears are like radar to the deer. They can hear you hick-up from 100 yards out. This taken out in one of our corrals which has been un-grazed this year but for the deer. I was standing in my “front” yard within our “deer resistant” fence line. That corral has a water tank that we keep open 24/7/365 for anybody that needs a sip. Nearby gullies provide cover and the huge fields of grass a source of food.
The Mom has already had her fawns (in the corral with her). She just looks pregnant being well fed around the house. She just filled up with water too. They are not stressed up here. They scamper off pretty quickly if so. We have a hoop greenhouse not 50 feet away full of goodies but the 7 foot high electric fence tends to keep most creatures out. Only the creatures that know how to operate the gate, can fly over and grasshoppers get in there. :(. IT’s been a tough grasshopper year on top of all the rest…. 😔
While this is a telephoto image on a high end camera, I do keep game trail cameras by that water tank in this “enclosure” however… I’m about to check them after 3 months so stay tuned for several deer families with fawns. Most mornings very early I see small groups of deer come and go from that water tank. There should be hundreds of good captures.
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.
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…
(This is one of a dozen image I consider a “Right Turn Clyde” series.) If you remember the 1978-80 movie by Clint Eastwood “Any Which Way But Loose” and his Orangutan “Clyde”. Upon being told “Right Turn Clyde”. The great ape would throw his massive arm to the right. This action usually punching someone in the jaw that needed such a thing. (deserved). Filmed in Wyoming on location in Jackson Hole back in the day. Those were the days back in Jackson Hole. I started experiencing JH a few years after that. Lived there for a decade. I digress…
So the Meadowlark singing has no concept of the sign he graces with his presence. Even so his presence is often left on the sign. If you get my drift 😜 Golden Hour Lighting….
Meadowlark Encounters are all to a one a random event. I wander from project to project up in this remote country. In this grass sea we inhabit the shore of, anything above the ground level is a perch for a bird here. It’s the high rise of the prairie and premium real estate. I swear I’m going to dedicate an afternoon photographing/ staking out a particular Right turn sign I’m aware of. You could mine Bird Guano around that sign and use the soil there as fertilizer. IT must be a very busy place on the planet but I only get short glimpses of it drying by. Observe and Investigate. (Rule 211 of Photography)
Taken at 2 AM by one of my game trail cameras. Of course as an Infra-red Flash automatic camera I have no choices here except for 3 levels of flash, 3 levels of sensitivity to make it flash and where to put it. The later being more important. Now the moon was full and illuminating the scene nicely thank you. Touching noses with one of her fawn ID’ing each other in the dark conditions. The other fawn is probably with the other Doe as well.
I place this camera at the gate between this field of grass and the field behind the camera where the water tank is. We keep 4 different water tanks open 364/24/7 for anybody that needs it. It’s funny how they don’t hang around water most of the time . Preferring to eat a mile or so away from where they water most of the time. I suspect that is an adaptation to Pleistocene hunting pressure near water . Back when the Large Cat population of crazy types like Saber Tooth, American Lion etc were about…. These guys are adapted to escape from those cats no longer an issue. Nothing else alive on the plains today but humans in our machinations can keep up with them. They don’t have a lot to worry about these days. As a chunk of the Pleistocene Megafauna slowly disappeared, these ungulates survived the causes of that extinction. What ever they did, it worked and here they are lolol.
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.