Driving the backcountry I see many images but not all of them are straight forward just point and click lol. Without the Smoke Pall totally filtering all but the brightest longest wavelength colors. The sun was ALMOST naked eye viewing here which made the grass highlight possible. Halo’s in the grass around the sun are hard to catch when they are not BLOWN out by overexposure.
Normally the glaring intensity of the setting sun will over power the cameras sensor leaving hard colored edges around the sun, unlike this smooth gradient/transition. I really like smooth gradients in my images, if you see steps in my color ramps, either it was really like that or I screwed up something lol.
The color is true to the sky I was looking at through the camera. Most of the sky was smoke grey. This is a very small area of the sky through this telephoto lens. This image covers an area the size of a postage stamp at arms length. This was hundreds of yards away.
The thickness of the smoke of late has been troublesome. Animals and Humans alike suffer from the choking irritant. As I type this, the residents of Jordan Montana can return to their home. One of many fires ongoing in the area was ready to run over the town. The 50 mph winds and low humidities made for fire storm grassland conditions. One of the few redeeming results of a hot forest or grass fire is the color in the sky down wind. I’ve seen some smoke/light phenomena this week I’ve never experienced before.
These close / far perspectives are always a challenge to me. I have to put myself into a mouses mind and imagine the sheer size of human machinations. This Antique steel wheel has been standing here for many decades. It overlooks a huge vista all around it. Ridge top locations allow for such luxuries. It pays for it’s view with the extreme exposure to the elements. The metal parts of this old farm machinery will be here hundreds of years. That is assuming it isn’t recycled in some dystopian future society.
This fairly “clear of smoke” sunset has been a member of a rare population of late. As I type this Massive fires are burning along the west coast. I can only hope that wet or snowy weather comes quickly to the west this year. It’s likely the only thing that will stop those fires. 125 years of not enough controlled burns apparently has found the dead fall fuel load too high in many locations. I’m glad to see the relatively smoke free skies like tonight. I of course was taking a few photos of the setting sun.
The 22nd. of September (Equinox) is coming in a few days from this post. I will be working east / west perspectives with the sun aligning up with all sorts of things. Twice a year I get to do that. Once this month I get pretty clear skies.
Best wishes to all the folks under threat from the fires.
Corriente’ Cattle have been on the ranch since 2012. We have Black Angus too but these guys are much more photogenic. Something about the horns that gives them a western look.
Fully covered skies where I catch any animal that I can silhouette are automatically better by their inclusion. I would indicate that everybody was looking at this sunset that evening. I’m sure that even the glutton on the right took a few seconds between chews to enjoy this vision. It was hard not to notice this sky show. It stands out in all that I have seen as pretty impressive….
This can only happen during a totally overcast evening with thin / spotty enough clouds to allow the light to get under the canopy. A cool night, this particular evening was very moist with alpenglow rife to provide this colorcast to the show.
Bear in mind that this is a long range telephoto shot so the area of the sky wasn’t as big as this perspective would have you believe lol. Telephotos crush perspective and you never know how big an area of sky you are seeing. This frame covers an area of sky about the size of a postage stamp at arms length at the horizon. It’s a mind bender I think. This was a good night for images as this held on for 10 minutes anyway. That gave me plenty of time to get around… Click …
I’m sure your all tired of “Smokey Sunsets / Sunrises by now. I sure as heck am. Except for the amazing sky thing, this is getting old. Snow is coming to the high country of Wyoming and Montana as I type… About a week before this published. Still early September for that storm. It hopefully will shut down a few fires to clear up the air a little. Some individuals with lung ailments are not enjoying this month much….
If there were snow storms incoming I’d be taking photos of it as long as there is light. I have to admit that I’ve seen phenomena that were new to me through the smoke palls. This particular image is a front moving from right to left with the smokey air to the right. The Clear air is to the left. The bank of clouds blocking the sun are forming in advance of the air mass shadowing the sun and providing a projector screen to show the light shafts above.
IT was actually pretty bright out. Cameras have trouble with dark detail when looking into very bright light. Sometimes I can tease out that landscape. This capture didn’t have enough data there to deal with in the digital darkroom. Creating artifacts is not my job… I could actually see landscape detail averting my eyes away from the sun. I was playing the same game with my eyes as was the camera. Dynamic Range of your eyes is better than your camera by the way. Your a better generalist than the camera is. That camera can looking into the furnace though with out any discernable repercussions. Not so much with your eyes lol.
The smoke that evening was intense. The air conditioning in the truck barely moderated the sneezing I enjoy in such air. Going out into this for long is a health risk certainly. There are all sorts of negative effects from enjoying the air as this. A good allergenic episode is my typical response. I know others that are put out of action by this kind of Pall. This kind of pollution can push some individuals over that cliff too. My advice is to stay inside if you can. As I type this the thermometer is approaching 100 degrees. I hope the animals find relief from this. They can’t come in as much as I’d like it for a while. Then there is the clean up thing….
The brown landscape color is accurate to the scene. The lowermost darkest ridge is 3 miles, next is 10 miles. The low ridge past that is 13 miles. Finally the 4th layer is 35 miles out with the sun hanging around 8 and 1/3rd light minutes out. This is as thick as it gets without blotting out the sun. I COULD have easily watched this outside of the camera with my naked eye. I don’t however suggest doing that. Always use appropriate eye protection. OK, maybe a very quick glance at this level of illumination.
Usually the Sun is FAR too bright to expose both landscape and it’s surface properly. Here because the sun has been smoke filtered a LOT it is possible to resolve the ridges. Normally hidden in the glare. The smoke acts like a theatrical gel over a spotlight. It allows only the longest wavelengths of light through.
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.
“Sneaky Pete” the wind engine is the smaller of 2 “brother” windmills of the “Pete” family on our ranch. Big Brother is “Re Pete” who lives 3 miles into the backcountry. Both are up in the rolling ridgeline country of “Wyotana”. Sneaky has been running for 20 years with a few rebuilds. He is 25 feet tall and pumps air for a ponds benefit. “Re Pete” is an antique still functional Aermotor Windmill way in the back country. Either would have provided served as a filter here. The symmetry stroked my OCD lol.
During the recent 2020 brown / fire smoke season, sunrises / sunsets are unusually interesting. There are a LOT of particulates in the air. The Deep Crimsons and yellow sphere of the sol are the only colors in the otherwise color bereft landscape. The feeling on this last of the few remaining warm nights was of an original Twilight zone episode I saw as a child. It scared the heck out of me. A fog moved into a community, next thing they knew they had been transported to an alien world. Scary stuff to an adolescent with 3 channels on the B+W Tube TV with aluminum foil on the Rabbit Ears. Some of you might have to reach back early on to remember all that.
Stark lighting, like being under a partial eclipse. It’s an odd look with everything terrestrial cast in an odd red glow. I compare it to a gel filter over a stage light. Just a really big light lol.
As I type this narrative on the 7th of September 2020, a weather system is moving through with mostly drizzle so far. It’s a classic fall weather system though and that is a good thing. We need moist days for sure to make it to the snows. Snow in the high country. I’m not draining the water out of my fire truck yet to winterize it. I don’t keep it in a heated building as it is bigger than you can image. Winterizing is a balancing act as too late, you freeze something. Too early and you don’t have water immediately handy when you need to put out a grass fire for instance.
The Forest Fires to our west (this publishes 10 days after I wrote it), contribute many things to our environment. The clearing of the overgrowth in healthy ecosystems is certainly positive. When the fires become an issue is when poor conservation (at best) combines with drought to set up a tinderbox. That becomes a negative. Then we build our houses in the trees. A failure to have a firebreak in your landscape is what burns structures. If you live in a fire area, you have to build for a fire area.
The dry year has this lake about as low as it gets. I have seen it about a foot lower but it’s artesian source replenishes it about as fast as evaporation. Normally it is topped off by a storm or two causing surface run off over a few thousand acres. It can get very full very fast. I have a post I placing a game camera a foot above the spill ways lips elevation. Those images will occur late next spring. I hope to have ducks next to the game trail cameras lol.
As a composition: I placed the sun behind the tree for two reasons. One the thing was still too bright to do this properly. It’s hard to get those details in the shadows with a super bright sun glaring at you. Two the water wouldn’t reflect the exposed sun…wrong angle lolol. Give it a few weeks and it will move far enough south (left frame) that it will reflect clear of the trees. Angles change over the year and to follow them is to give yourself possibilities with that photon capture box. Knowing when things align up lets you be there.
The horizon is a ridge 40 miles out. Those bumps are full grown pine trees making the saw teeth on the horizon. The perspective is deceiving. The area of the sky covered in this image is about the size of a postage stamp at arms length. Telescopic lenses literally give you a front row seat by crushing distance and thusly perspective you perceive. Such large celestial objects are possible. The relative apparent sizes mess with you… This actually makes the trees look HUGE relative as the sun. 863,000 miles across for that sphere, 50 feet for the tree. Based on that comparison, the sun must only be a few thousand feet tall. (shaking head side to side)…. Early Scientists/observers had it rough. They came up with the “Flat Earth” theories….
All the smoke in the atmosphere these days is good only for photography. Giving me crimson, yellow and black as my entire color pallet to capture. Three color, color schemes are fairly hard to find in nature typically. You have to narrow your search with the telephoto. There was a MUCH bigger sunset on going all around this close up. Many more colors started to appear. But when looking directly into the furnace, you only capture what light makes it to the camera. The smoke stopping ALL colors but Red/Yellow =Orange from making it to my photon traps. I can only record what is sent my way after all . I’m pretty sure that the time spent watching backcountry sunsets is not taken off your life’s timeline by the powers that be. It’s all free time….
I started working this storm because I couldn’t get out of it’s way. There were a few rain/hail shafts pursuing me across the flats so I went up on the ridges to get a better look at the storm. It’s not often I get to see running water in these ephemeral washes. (Good word to google). This storm just Dumped Water with marble sized hail for some time. I’m estimating 2 inches of precip fell with right at an inch of ice in places. Here it had melted somewhat since it was 60 degrees out up at the local top of the world for this shot.
The water that was accumulating down river would have been significant from this storm. I didn’t go down to the flats where dozens of these little washes conjoin into a much bigger force to be dealt with down river.
The Storm was breaking as sunset approached. Passing to our east leaving me with a window to the sky. A crepuscular display ensued for our enjoyment.
The chill in the air that night was only matched in it’s uniqueness only by the mist rising then flowing down valley. Neither something I’m used to this drought year. A river of dense fog rolling down the valley. That vision has already published on the internet a week ago. The saturated air hitting all the hail ice covering the ground made a wonderful fog generator. Both evaporation and sublimation (another google word) was occurring along with the flooding locally.
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 have accumulated a series of right turn signs photobombing objects near, far behind or on them I’m trying to take a photo of. The series name came from the Orangutan star in the early 1980’s Clint Eastwood Movie “Any Which Way You Can”. Having lived in Jackson Hole for the Decade of the 90’s, it was a classic to watch locally and see the familiar sites. The Great ape when told to “Right Turn Clyde”, would throw his hand out to the right, usually into somebodies jaw. That person typically needed a good punch in the story.
The lighting was silly hard to do this with. It took a tripod to get enough depth of focus to capture this. Telephoto of course from some distance back. It’s the only way to do this. The settings are highly variable depending on how much light you have. The more the better. There wasn’t much here to collect in my photon capture boxes.
As a photorealist, I reproduce images dark if it was dark out. That sun was as dim as a candle in the window across the street. IT was in the process of being snuffed out like that candle by the cloud bank behind the Pall of Smoke. Neutral grey light background and just a bit of light from my truck on the sign. Those surfaces are holographic at times. Messes with your camera big time lol.
This is the pullback and image number 2 from this timeline. That is the original and official “pin hole camera”. We have a silhouette here of a local mountain top from another nearby peak. I was walking along the ridge to take maximum advantage of the Pareidolia I suffer from. There are at least two “easter island” faces in the silhouette. Suddenly as I’m walking along…..
I freeze. I really didn’t have the right camera with me, so after a trip to my truck. Consisting a few hundred feet of climbing, I figured I’d never find the window again. I couldn’t see it projecting a dot in the shadow on the landscape. The sky was too “lit up” throwing very bright diffuse light making that impossible. (What a sky).
It turns out that the “window” to this pinhole was about 2 feet by 2 feet at this distance (about 300 yards). I just by happenstance walked with my head at the right level. I’m amused by simple things these days.
I find looking at the world with the amazement of a child has done well for me over the decades. I attempt to view perspectives like a mouse and lighting as a youngin’. Try to moderate those with a dose of awareness though lol. Even though I’ve photographed thousands of sunsets/sunrises, each one is a new experience. Each different than any before. The spiffs of being a landscape photographer. 😎
Dramatic occluded sunsets are typically dark. I present this dark because it was lolol. . It’s the color I was after in the highlights. It was dark enough that the dynamic range (DR) of the camera was apparent. The lack of DR there of is my point I’m thinking. My eye could discern much more detail in this lighting environment. There is a point. When the full sized sun popping through a thin slit on the horizon. Is effective already down. More of a candle light than the furnace it would be with the cloudy obfuscation. Most images would have a completely black / silhouette landscape in this light. Cameras dynamic range is lacking compared to the human eye. There are some that are better than most others lol. Give the technology a few years
There is a LOT of detail in the landscape buried in the “black” . Most of the ground here is 400 feet or so below the hill I chose to climb that evening. Driving up these hills can be challenging, but then the sun goes down and your still up the hill…..😜 One of the few disadvantages of “Clever Girl” versus my old Jeep Grand or even my Polaris Crew Ranger is being able to see over that big hood. IT does have a camera up there though…… 📷 It is also a full foot wider than my Jeep Grand Cherokee so fitting between trees I used to fit through becomes a considered thought process lolol.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana Title: Good Evening All
Looking into the furnace is a hazardous thing to do with most cameras. I don’t suggest pointing a camera with a telescopic lens into the sun unless you really know what your doing. This was very bright of course going to places the human eye can only glance into for fractions of a second. More and your doing damage to your eyes. Don’t…I use gear that is good with this.
The old growth pines on this ridge, married a long time living together. Roots intertwining for well over 100 years. Sharing the same ground will tend to put everybody on the same page. The metaphor here leads to the conclusion that common interests exceed differences. The trees work together blocking the wind and gathering the light most of the time. Here they are cooperating with me making a nice frame for my sunset that evening. The have both survived decades of grass fires burning to their base. Survivors both.
The Yellow surrounding the sun is where the term “Golden Hour” comes from. What I’m after is the smooth yellow to blue gradient here with every color variation in between the two end members. Needless to say this is a wide lens involved to fit all of this in the frame lol.
Funny how just about every little branch is pointing toward the sun. When I compose inside of the camera, I’m actively looking for the symmetry that is all around us, but not so obvious. I find looking is way different that seeing what is actually going on within the infinite angles we can imagine. Moving your head a few inches either way and the 8 or 9 leading lines to the sun focal point. Actually I’m all about that clump of needles on the lower left lol. My favorite way to do this is driving parallel to a treed ridge with a really long telephoto with high fstop. Way back from the trees. Distance is your friend. Look for the natural frames. I have some wonderful images doing that very thing.
I blurred the background on this one for a change. Just a little bit of distance perception and I’m playing for the next time I’m near this spot. With (at least mine) mirrorless cameras, you can see what is in focus and what isn’t. The parts of the image in focus are highlighted digitally so I can actually see where the lines of high contrast are and aren’t. I would never buy another DSLR camera. I’m horribly hooked on Mirrorless technology at this point.
Musings on Smokey Summers:
Some of this summer’s evenings are taking a markedly red tint versus the so common golden evenings. I’m blaming the particulates in the air from the numerous forest fires up wind of our position. Just pick your wind direction for the smokes sources unfortunately. The 2018 fire season was a particularly bad one. Really seriously deeply filtered crimson sunsets were common. Right now we are starting to get more filtered light only in the longer wavelengths. The color dominates by the other colors total absence being absorbed by the atmosphere. I hope 2020 is nothing like 2018 forest fire wise.
Those of us that see images in clouds might pay attention to this wonderful western Sunset. A lamb is passing under the “Eye of Sauron” sunset. Wyotana (both states are in the photo) has some very impressive sky shows. I work over 400 of them a year and have for several years now. Having seen many of them gives me an interesting perspective that few having on terminator crossings. (Look it up on Google if you don’t know).
The terminator moves over us at 1000 mph twice per day. (The world is 24,960 miles in circumference) It takes 24 hours for one full rotation. That’s roughly 1000 mph that we are traveling in a fairly tight circle of 6917 miles in diameter. Traveling so fast in a circle it’s amazing we don’t fly off this big ball. There has to be SOME outward force eh? lolol.
This is a view west across the Little Powder River Valley from up on the west side of the Pass to Rockypoint Wyoming on Trail Creek Road. It’s 40 miles to the mountain ridges in the distance. There is a lot to be said for gaining elevation. This is about 10 miles from my homestead and roughly 3 miles south of Montana where I stand.
It’s amazing how the sky at the top can still be blue with the alpenglow popping out in the lower atmosphere. The light bathing those high clouds is still blue and unfiltered by the low/thick atmosphere. IT’s a classic Rule of thirds color ladder too lol. Laid out like a tic tac toe game. Just super-impose the game over the image to see what I mean. 📸
I like to end most days with a photo of a sunset. This is from about 10 days before the image actually publishes on line. I am currently that far ahead in setting up my post. I hope you enjoy the evening. Be safe all.
Well if you see figures/shapes/forms in clouds, this image is fodder for your imagination. I’ve got several anthropomorphic figures floating around in my head from this image. I saw it at the time and thought it worthy of your time. Primarily I can imagine a woman on her elbows crawling but you might go with a lamb or some other figure. Whats nifty about this tendency is that no one really constructs the same vision inside their head. The next person is always going to see something different. The snake eye in the upper right just caught my eye too. Maybe it’s a rabbit: lolol.
This is a Photo taken across the 40 miles of the Little Powder River Valley from Wyoming into Montana. I’m sitting on the west side of the pass on Trail Creek Road in Wyoming. The border is 4 miles to my right.
What a long afternoon of photography this day ended with. Near the end of this timeline, I had been out for 3 hours following a Mesocyclone across the landscape. No rainbows this day though. Only lightning and serious weather to deal with to our south. The sun stayed away till the end.
Location: The Pass on Trail Creek Road To Rockypoint Wyoming USA.
Finding this landscape was a long ride. Getting up these ridges can be a chore, other places you can drive right up. It’s all about the perspective of the height of the hill. The 40+ miles wide Little Powder River valley is off in the distance. The Wyoming / Montana border is between myself and the sun at the moment. Both states being in the photo. The Wyotana area has it’s own character with a mixing of the two state cultures. No difference across the line.
The land is big and unpopulated here. An average of a little over 1 person a square mile I believe is about right. I seldom see lights other than car lights across a valley this wide. Pole lights are few and far in between. I thought the reflective lakes were a nice touch of mother nature to throw into this. Those are both spring fed artesian lakes. My ranch mostly covers the ridge right of the right lake. This location is about 300 feet higher than my ranch’s average altitude. I have a hill that is 50 feet lower than this spot but the view is entirely different as you might suspect lol.
I thought I’d end the day with an end of the day image. This was just about the last image I took that timeline. That was the end of a 3 hour photo session on the backroads of Wyotana.
I love using natural materials to filter out the glare from a setting sun such that the background colors appear. Between lens reflections and flares, the glare makes for a harsh photographic environment. Resultant in umber colored images unlike this blue sky to yellow transition. When I utilize something like this tree trunk to block, completely hide the sun, a different world emerges from the light overload. Almost nothing can look at the sun unfiltered. Modern Large sensor cameras do pretty well (fairly high end mirrorless NOT DSLR cameras) at not melting a spot in the sensor pointing into the nuclear furnace.
Chasing Gradients of color hue or saturation is a worthy use of my limited hands on camera time I feel. The yellow / golden light surviving the trip through the lower atmosphere making it to my photon capture device is dutifully recorded digitally. What ever software algorithm the camera settings impart to record the scene as a series of Ones and Zeros (I0III000I00)Billions of numbers long. It is my job to bring the digital file out of the camera and bring it into the digital darkroom.
It is my choice to finish them as I remember them. Everybody that actually is a photorealist must process the photo in some way or another. Cameras are terrible at getting it right. First of all I intentionally expose ONLY the highlights correctly. That way you can actually see detail in them. They are not all blown out as if you try to get dark detail. Blown out is lost information and bad photography.
Then you use the tools in a program like Photoshop™ or Lightroom™ to bring the dark areas back to reality. This process expands the dynamic range of the image. I brought the green out of the tree from pitch black. It’s a little thing but it’s exactly what Ansel Adams did with his contrasts and differential exposures. He did his in the chemical dark room and this would have taken him months to do this in black and white. Let alone the color thing. Technology has advanced a LOT in this field over the last century.
I figure as a landscape artist, I better capture one now and then. Even better present it here for your consideration. Thank you for your time this early morning. Enjoy the coffee
Have you ever taken a photo of just that certain “Golden Hour” light only to have it turn out perfect? Me neither lolol. Fortunately I have some basic knowledge of the digital dark room to get it pretty close to how I remember the moment. This image is very close to the original scene. Being a photorealist with OCD has its high AND low points lolol. The hardest part for me is getting the sage brush the right color. It has an unusual bluish hue that is definitely a unique shade.
The Sun here I intentionally composed into the Pine Tree to help filter out some of the unwanted light. Too hard to get this accurate color wash with such a bright light to compensate for. This let me focus more on the wonderful light that was illuminating the brown grass tops. There were many colors of green in the real scene that are all represented here. The Robins Egg Sky true to the moment. The white clouds at top frame still bathed in the white light of the sun unfettered by very much atmosphere up so high. The sun setting color gradient not as obvious unless you understand how and why these various colors are reflected to my lens.
From early June 2020 when it was still a little green…
Layers of ridges with 10s of miles between. Long landscape ladder perspectives that climb the gradients of color step by step are wonderful when they magically appear. Alpenglow caused by atmospherically suspended ice particles is the glow. That caused by said ice along with dust and particulates effect on the incoming sunlight winter or summer. This captures late hour with just about 5 minutes left in the day, the light is markedly golden thus the “Golden Hour” moniker. I work the golden hour anytime.. Constantly impressive, Golden Hour Photoshoots. That is done often up in this country.
I call this “working the edge of the sun”. If you do it incorrectly with what ever zoom lens your using, your going to get lens flares. Long shafts of light artifacts from stray light in your lenses. Patience and experimentation is necessary to figure out your lens. Remember not to use a DSLR type camera or a small sensor Mirrorless unless it’s rated for into the sun work. It’s tough on sensors (melts spots in them) if you point a camera incorrectly set up letting in too much light. Note that melted spots in your image chip is not a good thing unless your into abstract art through the lens. If you learn nothing else from this, don’t blind yourself with a DSLR camera pointing it at the sun. If you don’t know the difference between DSLR and mirrorless cameras, you should google and learn so you know.
It’s a challenge to do photography at the edge of the operational limits of your camera. Just don’t trash your camera back lol. I’ve done hundreds of these with the Sony Alpha 7R 2,3 and 4 platforms.. Those are full frame chips all. That fact disperses the heat from the sun over a much larger area. Those will take it. I suspect most full frame cameras will. 📷
So you want to go fight a fire eh? It’s not a Disney™ ride. I believe that I have never been more covered in dirt, sweat and soot more than by fighting a good grass fire. Just recently I took two very newbie guys out to fight our recent on ranch fire a few weeks ago as this posts. Trial by fire. They had no idea but hung in there….
I have been totally soaked, over heated and generally bounced to death. Driving a 1000 gallons of water in a 37000 pound 6 wheel drive truck to the scene is usually bumpy across the backcountry trails. Some of the toughest jobs on the planet is the professional smoke jumper game. The “hot spotters” are an amazing group of people. Olympic Athletes with a purpose all. The crews that come into clean up a fire area are careful, hard working and generally in a great attitude about what they do. God bless all first responders.
I don’t think the fire crews are generally worried about changing the way they work to suit the new “norms”. On the fire line, there are a few more considerations that somehow seem more immediate of a concern. You suck a lot of smoke if you dive in front of a grass fire with a big truck full of spraying water. I have found that behind the flame front it’s WAY too hot with the ground radiating heat as well as the flame. In front of the flame, you don’t want your truck or your pump to stop working. I have driven straight into an advancing flame front numerous times. I’ve also seen them so tall that I didn’t go through it.
Grass fires are a way of life up here on the grassy prairie Wyotana area. Sparsely populated with miles between ranches, a grass fire can go un-noticed until it’s almost out of control. A fast local response saves the gov’t thousands of dollars in pay and travel time. We do our best along with most of our neighbors that can. The same is true across the west.
Crimson Sunsets with a boulder field acting as a sun moderating filter. Otherwise the glare is such it makes it very difficult to catch the detail in the clouds above. I point out that cloud frame is a Pariedoliac’s dream with a dozen faces, figures, creatures and imaginary anthropomorphic shapes. I’ve got horses, dolphins humans faces. I swear I did not put those shapes there or add dots for eyes or any of those cheating activities. This is a totally natural image with a pretty much closed down camera to light. That sun is bright. The human eye could not look into this scene.
Taken at the top local top of the world with a hard boulder covered butte top protecting the sandstone below from erosion. Most buttes are built by cap rock protecting the softer sediments below from being removed. Ridges are formed because everything softer was carried away by water moving one grain of sand at a time. Just lots of time.
Photographic Musings. High F-stop for the deep focus plus loosing some light. (you’ve got an overabundance of light here). Low ISO because you sure as heck don’t need a sensitive camera here. Shutter speed is going to be fast but the boulder filter can lengthen that out a bit. Each of the Manual settings is a double edge sword. If you want deep focus, you need a lot of light. F-stop is your iris size inside the lens. A pin hole gives you very deep focus fields. But a pin hole doesn’t let in much light. Manual is all about balancing light.
In this high country, a spring fed pond is a rare thing. To find one with a reasonable view of almost straight west is a tall request. Not quite as tall as the smoke plume from this fire. My personal estimate is that thing is 40-50 miles straight west. I’m also thinking it is miles wide at this point. I had just spied it 5 hours before when a neighbor called me as to “what was burning on my side of the hill and where was it.
Spending the next 5 minutes to go up to a high ridge it was instantly obvious mid day. Fast forward to the “golden hour” and driving to a spot where I have a huge smoke filter to photographically work the sunset with. I called back the neighbor to let him know. Short discussion I had to zip off to intersect some other trucks headed this way. All of the ranchers in this region are on a hair trigger about responding to a spark. There is no worse feeling than watching a dry thunderstorm travel over an area only to see a smoke plume.
That fire is located pretty close to the Crow Reservation very near the border so your looking across from Wyoming to Montana here. We were covered by a pall of smoke all afternoon today (as I type this a week ago). I’ve had 2 sunsets to work from this fire so far. I bet it’s going to burn awhile as that is mountain goat country.
There are lots of characters (years long narratives) around this ranch. Here is a continuing theme… 😀
I’ve seen “Sneaky Pete” the photobombing windmill with cold feet before but I suspect it feels like hot coals. Actually I’ve observed this behavior by him before with Sneaky jumping over the solar disc with the intent to trap him. (I have no control over his action). Sneaky learns pretty slowly. After all he is a windmill.
The sun of course has been around a LOOOOONG time and is a observer of all things. Sometimes the activities of humans and their machinations amuse it. Other times like this, not so much. Of course being wise in all things, he just slipped out the bottom as the horizon rose behind Sneaky. (Back to my normal prograamming).
Blurred Windmill with a Bright sun…….. F36, 1/15th sec, ISO 100 with a 200mm focal length. Two opposing settings. High fstop for the light reduction PLUS the deeper focal field for the close/far perspective. LOOOONG shutter at 1/15th. You have to at least rest a 200-400mm lens on something to hold it still at 1/15 and that is hard. The long shutter allows the blur. A tripod is better. Your ISO is your final setting (camera sensitivity). Just adjust it until you can get the exposure you want. This is a razor edge/ paper cut edge of the envelope kind of capture. I had nothing left in the camera I could do to eliminate more light and still blur the windmill.
JUST after the sun disappears behind the rising horizon, I clicked this. The simple image of a sunset is only overcome by the beauty of the event. Watching thousands of sunsets from start to finish has taught me nuances in lighting. Both Causation and Effect become apparent with enough observation. There are an infinite number of angles to look at something. There are more that I can imagine in my mine. (more than infinity). 😜
Sunsets this time of year from my ranch are getting more and more straight to the west. From my position one mile inside of Wyoming, your looking at both states in this frame. Wyoming is to the left and Montana is to the right. Living on the border with access to both states has it’s advantages. I am sandwiched between two counties fire departments and get pretty good service lolol. This late into a drought year has me looking over Amazon and elsewhere online for firefighting tools. To have a smoke free sky like this image might take a while with a pretty good fire 50 miles west of here. You can’t see it here as this was the day’s ending before it started burning.
So enjoy the clear sky sunset while I’ve still got them making their way into my work flow. The last two sunset/sunrise I’ve worked have been heavily influence by the smoke from that fire. There will be other images of that fire’s smoke plume incoming and published here soon.
This happened 8 days ago as this posts. One of the first pictures I took in this timeline. I’m thinking I have about 18 images I’m going to finish eventually from this event. I was perfectly positioned by a coincidence of cosmic proportions lol. Of the 360 degrees on the compass, the sun setting behind a forest fire …. I’ve never seen such from this angle sun passing through. It isn’t something I’ve ever experienced.
For you Pariedolia sufferers, there is an angry Micky mouse trying to eat a landing bat for sure.😜 That pall of smoke TOTALLY blocked the sun behind it. The eventual play of light from this event was spectacular as you will see as the captures from this timeline make it into my workflow. Heck, this is pretty much a unique vision. ….
That is the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Homestead on the lower left of the frame. It makes a good scale for the HUGE WIDE image above. This was from my 10mm widest lens I own kind of optic. The top of the frame is past the zenith of the sky and the width is something like 130 degrees . That fire is Straight West of my ranch so Montana is literally on the right with Wyoming on the left. I’m standing in Wyoming for this capture but not by much (100 yards or so)
The sage was thick to walk through. I always check for tick before I even get back in my ride. Walking the high ridge lines with camera gear during warmer summer months is problematic that way. I pull one or two off almost every time I walk around. Now if ticks attached to grasshoppers, I’d be good with them. I had one ALMOST get attached next to my watch band on the back of my wrist. Shivers…. ugg.
First of all let me say that Sage brush is VERY hard to get to be the right color. Talks about fine adjustments in the digital darkroom. That slightly bluish green is unique to sage and is a challenge for everyone to get right. Particularly in high dynamic range images as this. Shadow Detail looking into light….
So anyway, the golden sky this time of year is the rule rather than the exception. The sun is slowly setting and rising a little bit more south on the horizon each day. The wheel, it keeps on turning.
The sun is already setting to the left of the peaks on the far ridge. (the Red Hills) Soon I’ll be chasing images of the sun setting behind the Big Horn Mountains. Those mountains are left of the sun in this image. Soon…. Remember they are 130 miles distant and with this wide shot. The distance makes the 13000 foot tall peaks hardly discernible at this focal length. This capture taken with a 90 degree wide lens which is right about what most people see normally. That’s about 22 mm focal length for a 90 degree Field of View (POV).
I follow the moons shadow line on opposite ridges during times like these. Surfing tree to tree. When the sun AND the full moon are both dancing with the horizon occurs rarely. Usually once a month I get one, two or three opportunities to photographically work a 96 percent plus moon face. While the moon is certainly rising while I work, I actively move across the landscape to a proper position.
Here I caught the moon showing off jumping between two trees midair . It was one of those “here, hold my beer” moments. I see the moon messing around on the horizon all the time. While I might muse of his more amusing traits, I certainly respect his position in the scheme of things over time.
I’m not sure why this story came up but I’ll tell it. As the earth ages, the moon is slowly getting further away from us. Like an ice skater throwing his arms out. THere are all sorts of ramifications:
One of world’s oldest living fossils: the chambered Nautilus has a growth ring that is timed by the sun (i.e. one per day). Plus a new chamber timed by the moon (once per lunar month). Back in the Cambrian Period (about 500 million years ago) these Cephalopod fossils have mostly 18 growth rings per chamber. Modern day nautiloids have 28 growth rings per chamber. It isn’t just two end data points either! All through geologic history, including the entire age of dinosaurs to now. The nautilus gains growth rings per chamber in a fairly smooth progression over the many centuries.
This indicates clearly that in the Cambrian life (nearly the oldest fossils of this living calendar found), that a “month” had only about 18 days. For the moon to complete an orbit of the earth this fast, it had to have been much closer to the earth (shorter orbital path). This has all kinds of implications on geologic history when you consider that “earth tides” are synchronized with the moons revolutions around the earth.
All sorts of other effects such as the diurnal deformation of the earth as well as ocean tides are dramatically influenced thusly. If the moon was much closer to the earth in ancient geological times. Much physics would be magnified in it’s effect. That helps explain the past high energy movement of crustal plates, huge orogenic formation of mountains and other earth-building events such as eustasy our ancient geologic past. A closer moon would make for REALLY big tides…. REALLY…