I was warming the souls of my trail boots along with my own soul for this capture… Watching dramatic scenes as this unfold in front of me is a deeply engaging moment by moment adventure for me. I work at a high operational tempo when there are minutes left in the light. Lots to do and not much time to do it.
A “sun slit” about 5 minutes to sunset, the flat light from the suspended ice in the air provides the atmosphere for this capture. Close/Far perspectives with these old fallen sentinels of the high ridges are well worth pursuing . They provide the artist with textures and lines leading off toward a distant focal point. Drawing the minds eye deeper into the image, the fallen tree lays waiting for the night. It was a soft bed in the snow.
This is dry high ridge country here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana . The location several miles into the backcountry of this 4000 foot in elevation ridge. In this area, occurred a fire that burned all summer during the 1930’s. That fire didn’t go out until the snows fell in the fall. This obviously changed the landscape from a heavily forested pine grove into a more open landscape. Prior to human habitation, wildfires were always burning unchecked across North America. Then it got worse because native Americans did a LOT of burning to open up the deep woodlands. A grassland/forest mix is good for the wildlife. And they knew it. Pretty much right up until maybe 100 years ago.🤔
Wildfire is natures way of controlling the build up of forest floor litter. The old trees do fine in the smaller grass fires under them. Many pine cones open releasing their seeds due to the fires. Fires are responsible for trimming back woods creating grasslands. Trees like this if hit by lightning will burn for days. If there is a LOT of fuel, it get’s pretty spicy in the grasslands.
There are “Islands” of Old Growth Trees, one right over my left shoulder that I was walking in . It is getting very difficult to get up on this ridge these days. I have to plow usually. Drifting is ALWAYS an issue up on the ridges. I actually have built the road up to this ridge top but there is no build road along the ridge.. Just two track trails……. I’m pretty careful. That’s all about knowing where not to go driving backcountry ridges in mid winter….. 🌲🤔📷
Perspectives such as this, require a very close/far focus. That is not an easy task in fairly dark environments such as this. This very small sun slit along with a virtually veiled sunrise took place. Just before the horizon dropped exposing the sun. It’s civil Twilight still, the sun has not risen yet.. (Astronomic, Nautical and Civil are the three twilights) I consider this a tough photographic environment certainly.
I do like working perspectives in low light. It’s working several problems at once in the cameras Manual mode. Such activities are an exercise in balance of the three major camera settings you have ANY control of. (white balance excluded).
Twilight is by far the best time of the day. Not many are up seeing what is going on most mornings. I’ve seen some aurora, I’ve seen so many sky shows . Just about every possible situation short of some ultra rare phenomena. I will testify that twilight is the most varied color, capable of the full rainbow of possibilities. Only the bright greens of aurora have I not seen from twilight. Oxygen excited by the sun at 60 -120 miles high is that green. None in basic twilight that I have ever seen. The variety of scenes, the play of low angle light, leads one to take the work if you can get it lolol.
This was not a cooperative sky as that sun slit closed up thusly closing down the sky show that morning. Sometimes I drive for backcountry miles only to get a few minutes of good light. Such are the dues you pay if you play the game of photon collecting.
So I see the wonderful veiled sky. I’m several miles in, well past an easy walk into the backcountry. (I drove my Jeep because this gear is heavy! ) This is “Re Pete” the 1930’s Aermotor Windmill. He is “Sneaky Petes” (the windmill) older/bigger Brother here on the ranch. Usually they are the photobombers working their way into my landscapes and sunsets. Here the ducks photobombed the famous photobomber him self. I have no control over any of this narrative OR the windmills for that fact. It takes on a life of it’s own😜😂
An interesting path that leads to this particular moment of space and time here forever frozen . That ridge line parallels a higher line to the east. This is VERY hilly country with big gullies separating flatter divides. Two track trails cross deep animal trails from a century of cattle walking. You don’t want to hit one of those at 20 with your jeep lol. As I say, my jeep is a short timer here now.
Incoming is a new Ford F-150 that should improve my ride quality (which is beating me up as I put 3500 miles last year on my ATV alone driving two track (bumpy) backcountry roads. I feel like I’ve worked in a mine all my life driving heavy equipment. I actually wore out a set of front brakes in 2 years on my Polaris Ranger. There are a LOT of slow downhill descents (anybody can fall downhill) on that Polaris. This business is not for sissies here in the backcountry.
I’ve only dumped ONE camera and long lens out of a moving vehicle to date. It cost 1000 dollars to fix that camera back. I feel that was cheap. Particularly compared to buying a replacement camera. The lens undamaged. I was traveling about 15 mph at the time. Then watched the unit tumble end to end. It was very close to this spot lolol.
Perspective on Old Farm Gear ‘s timeline started as a sunset session. Going up this hill leads to this 1930’s IH Deering Seed Drill (seeder). That Antique has been sitting here for a LONG time and has seem more weather, sunsets, sunrises than any of us left alive today. An old soldier survivor of wind, rain, hail, and worst of all, cattle rubbing against it. It has BIG views in all directions. (Change up seasonally eh? No snow in this one lolol. )
Up here on this high ridge (called rattlesnake ridge), you can see a 180 mile horizon to horizon. Going up on top of this ridge is a favorite summer lightning observation high point. Of course to photo lightning, you want to be in a metal vehicle high on a ridge right?? 🙃 This is also the “Closest” high point to my driveway. It’s about a mile from my door to this spot. The two track to here isn’t easily snowed over by drifts so I use this hill some in the winter to see what’s going on.
The rest of the year, this hilltop mostly connected to “Ridge One” here on the ranch is easier to get up on than some surrounding hills. Winter has a dramatic effect on where I can and am willing to travel. I haven’t had to walk back yet. The year however, is young and there are a lot of snows between now and when it will get warmer. lolol. We will have our share of 1 foot dumps this winter I’m sure. As the classical reference says: “Winter is Coming”.
The Lightning and the Seed Drill timeline started looking much further left than the camera points for this image. The head lights of my Jeep Grand Cherokee are what is highlighing the 1930’s IH Deering Seed Drill (seeder). That Antique has been sitting here for a LONG time and has seem more weather, sunsets, sunrises than any of us left alive today. An old soldier survivor of wind, rain, hail, and worst of all, cattle rubbing against it. It has BIG views in all directions. (Change up seasonally eh? )
Up here on this high ridge (called rattlesnake ridge), you can see a 180 mile horizon to horizon. Going up on top of a ridge in a metal object (jeep) next to another metal object (seeded) seems logical if you want to take a photo of lightning. I also think that sticking metal lenses out windows might be a good idea 🤔⛈.
Of course a high ridge is a wonderful place to watch a lighting storm as long as you don’t mind being on the target list. Sitting in a car covered by metal and not touching metal is a good thing in a lighting storm. I run my cameras on a lightning trigger and don’t have to touch them unless I move them. The one thing I’m actually afraid of is the really really really loud crash when a bolt hits your car or just nearby. I’ve been VERY close to bolts before. It’s not my favorite part of that photographic game. I like automatic cameras in this case lolol. 📸
I find that the Sony alpha 7 cameras I use tend to record lightning with a slight purple tint. This is very common in lighting captures in my experience. This is a 10 second time exposure . . Other settings were ISO 200, f20 and it was quite dark under that cloud with only a faint sunslit. I used f20 so as not to overexpose the headlights on the seeder.
The stratified cloud layer was rippled and in a perfect position to be lit from underneath by the sun as it dropped below the layer. It was heavily occluded before it got into the open air under the clouds. Big Sky yes but there is Herringbone sunset sky of both Wyoming AND Montana sky in this wide angle capture. (Most of my images have both states in them in one way or another).
The Herringbone pattern is not that common in my experience. Everything has to line up just right to get this kid of patterning/highlighting of just the low parts of the cloud layer. As soon as the heat from the sun hit this layer, the extra heat pretty much evaporated the clouds. Soon the sky went mostly clear for the actual sunset roughly 15 minutes later.
This location is only about a mile off the gravel road which this time of year is iffy. What you can’t see in this is the 5 or 6 inches of snow we have on the ground now. It’s been dang close to zero for several nights now. This is very early winter weather in my experience living up here in the borderlands. We get the best of both states AND the worst at times. Sometimes that is weather and other times it’s weather. 🤔😀
I’ve been busting still small drifts but I won’t go much off the paths now as it is really really slick and if you get into a hole, your not going to get out. They become gravity wells and even my jeep with full time 4 wheel drive has issues getting out of those in the winter. Don’t drop a tire off the level for anything. Hopefully I will only have this Jeep another month or two as I do have a higher smoother riding replacement coming with a 2020 build date likely lol.
Windmill Herringbone Sky My Landscapes are always being “photobombed” by “Sneaky Pete” the windmill. I have no control over his actions. 🤣 Windmill Weekend: 🤘 Windmill Junkies Unite!! Musings:
Nice sky that night. It disappeared (moved on quickly) before the sun got into the sunslit at the bottom of the cloud deck. It was still an interesting sunset. I love this kind of perspective using a VERY wide 12mm lens. This is a HUGE section of the sky with a wide 12 mm Zeiss lens just screaming perspective. I call the wedge of light at the horizon a “Sunslit” and as soon as the sun dropped below the cloud deck, most of it evaporated (literally lolol). The rest of that evening had just a bit of this going on. I found a few more applications for this sky (Compositions) up the hill on Ridge 1 where I get to interact with all the old growth trees up there.
Sneaky Pete is not an old windmill. He is about 20 years old. He pumps air for a small barnyard pond that we like to keep open for our ducks in the winter. The bubbles break open the surface under all but the coldest winters. It give the ducks a place to escape to. Their little pond has frozen over a few times and they walk up the hill and spend that time with the chickens because there is a small pool in their cage with running water there. The ducks number over 30, the pool is about 4 feet long by 32 feet wide and shaped like a kidney lolol. Sneaky Pete does a lot for the ducks….😄
5:50 AM as this posts. Enjoy the day and be safe in all you do.
These Evil Halloween Eyes from a rising sun I took a week ago as this posts. I’m always on the lookout for the Great Pumpkin Rising.🎃 I caught him here just sticking his nose over the hill top. Particularly at this time of year when all the supernatural creatures are out and about roaming the backcountry just waiting for an unsuspecting photographer to wander by… As if all the photobombing windmills were not enough for me to deal with……😜
The Sun was down below the horizon, this is a night sky, the spot lights from the sun’s down angle illuminating and lighting up the atmospheric ice suspended in the air…. It gave me this effect and several others interesting images as the clouds changed over the timeline. This is a ridge 40 miles out so a pretty small part of the sky which was pretty dark. These sky shows each have their own personality, sometimes several bi-polar sunset/sunrises hit me in a row lol. . I try and like to think I can read a sky like the actor Bill Paxton’s character in the movie “Twister” except I try to predict good or bad sunrise/sunset ahead of time to figure out what to do instead of where to chase the tornado as in that B movie lolol. More likely one of my many Delusions… yup 😄
Share freely with the season. It’s a natural photo not a digital concoction I swear. This stuff really happens… I just set my gear and click …..📸