I often have to leave very early in the morning to get into position to work a sunrise photographically. The etherial glow I see sometimes in Civil Twilight is a difficult to capture relative to any other object. Thusly all things silhouette. This simple Meadowlark Singing so early might at the onset seem easy to do. Meadowlarks are flighty. Encounters I have with them are all random. If you drive up on one and manage to stop your vehicle without him flying, luck be with you.
My advice is. If you manage to get stopped/ point a telephoto at a Meadowlark. Don’t move your vehicle. If you do, it will fly with a 99.6 percent reliability. (Remember that 83.8326 % of all statistics are made up at the moment)😜👀 Fairly tolerant Meadowlarks are, seeing you, watching you slow down and come to a stop. So WHERE you stop is fairly important. If you go too close they will of course fly.
Musings on difficult photographic environments:
Photographing a silhouette require there to be a subject AND actual light behind that subject. This Twilight wispy sky was not being generous with it’s photons of yet. My cameras (Sony Alpha 7 R series) are low light monsters but there are limitations in the technology. Taking a photo in a dark environment of things that move like a singing bird is usually silly to try. I got lucky with this guy un-blurred as he was moving while singing a lot lol. Razor edge settings. I hate High ISO (camera sensitivity) so I used a very fast f4- 600mm telephoto wide open at 50 yards or there about.
So many Satire filled narratives apply to this image with so little time/space. I’m thinking several classical themes here. One of Don Quixote in the lead wanting to dual windmills mixed with Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The second theme is the Three Wise Deer” out of the east. Boy I sure could get off on a tangent with that one.🤔😜
As it turns out this little group of bucks are brothers from other mothers. The one on the left is a 2.5 year old, the middle a 3.5 year old and the leader a 4.5 year old. Small, Bigger, Biggest and all that. Doing compositions while deer are moving is a matter of anticipating where they are going to be and get lined up before they get there. These guys were definitely walking/moving along which tends to quicken the timeline and the “pressure” to get the shot. I did have the ability to move a little and I was at least 100 yards out. As a result of my position I had about 20 seconds of moving and shooting to get the composition.
Photographic musings: Automatic Crap… (there are still layers of software in a modern camera your using I point out that run all the time).
I don’t use autofocus at all. Nor do I use any automatic settings on my camera as I’ve found they get in the way more than they help. The Dreaded Manual Mode turned on, the auto functions turned off…. 2 times the battery life at least. Image stabilization while nice in theory, is something I seldom use. It is VERY battery power use intensive particularly with the really big lenses/apertures. It is my suggestion to turn off all that auto crap including that hidden adjustment. Automatic White Balance. (Google This).
Hiding a major inflexion point in earths history…..
Reading earths book: Musings.
When the Bolide (google this) struck the earth at the End of the Cretaceous, it spread a thin layer of Iridium (an element) rich dust all over the globe. This impact occurred down in Yucatan Mexico. The rocks that make up this ridge/pass are from that moment in time. There the “K/T” iridium layer exists somewhere.
Now what does a geologist/photographer do with a hill like this…. The Bolide) Crashed into the earth, killing the dinosaurs, and many other animal groups on the planet. Huge upheavals in food chains ensued. Major extinctions do that of course and here we are. Our ancestors survived the conflagration. I traced the Rock Formation that is dinosaur bearing (Hell Creek/Lance formations) to end on this hill. The type of rock changes and SOMEWHERE in the photo, is that 4 inch thick layer of debris from that major impact. You can only tell exactly where it is from taking detailed samples up the rock section then running them through a mass spectrometer . One just looks for the Iridium spike (Iridium as an element is common in outer space but rare on earth. The impactor vaporized enriching the surface in that rare element.
The number of fossils and the diversity seems to be slowly declining near the top of the section but I don’t have HARD numbers on this. Don’t discount the pizza oven effect from the Bolides ejecta reentering the atmosphere. Massive tsunami’s hit further south. I’m sure this area got cooked. Later a blast wave plough through at the speed of sound. Anything that wasn’t under water, in a burrow or somehow hidden was killed outright on this hemisphere. The climates changed markedly and initiated a failure of major populations of animals to successfully reproduce. Ultimately it’s the inability to reproduce that causes extinction. No matter what the cause.
Seeing faces in clouds or other natural scenes is termed: Pareidolia. Historically this tendency diagnosed one with psychotic symptoms/ “abnormal”. Now we are teaching computers to do it. It’s not just clouds of course. Any pattern the human mind creates out of literally random data is symptomatic. Of course the state of medical/psychological science has improved a tad from those early days.
I’m thinking this is a cloud version of Mount Rushmore. Looking behind me to the eastern back show a bit after sunset on summers evening is a good habit. Many photographers get tunnel vision and forget to glance around. The back shows are often better than the main sunset if your chasing light like I do. Usually associated with a disruption in airflow, called Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds, aka billow clouds or shear-gravity clouds, and they look like breaking ocean waves. Taking many forms, these clouds can be impressive.
Typically by topography such as mountains causes the “ripples. . The interface between two layers of atmosphere with different temperature / density properties causes the phenomena. A series of waves with crests and troughs are created at the two air masses boundaries. The shapes are random but usually fairly consistent in one way or another.
I swear on a stack of geology books that I didn’t alter this image in the digital darkroom. It’s a totally natural scene. If you look enough at clouds, you see some very odd things :). The hard part is being there with a camera (Rule 1 of Photography).
Some of the Post-sunrise evening drives to return home I take to get set up in beautiful locations I have photographed earlier. . This ColorCast evening was colorful icing on the surface of the ice and snow reflecting it’s qualities to my lens. This is a twilight sky after sunrise.
Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.
Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise. Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight.
In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. . Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.
Taken VERY early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. . I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy cloud gradient already on a remote high ridge. I noticed the much wider view in the foreground camera than the actual background in the camera I was holding.
Getting around in the backcountry during twilight:
Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you have to gain altitude to do so. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. Everything else is lower in this area. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country.
Where most people get in snow trouble is when they get off the crest of the ridge. The snow is always less deep on the crest as it blows off to the edges. Up here Yucca and Sage Brush will trap snow. Taking a path through the vegetation isn’t the best of ideas. Best have some backup with you if you try.. I’ve got a shovel and a radio . Since I have the most snow capable vehicle on the ranch, I’d rather not stick my rig as getting something else to it would involve a skidsteer with chains and a bucket. Building roads is no fun lol.
Photographing Moor Rising: Lone Tree is a combination of finding the right position in x/y space, timing and distance is z, and that position moves with the speed of the moon which makes using Tripods very difficult. Maybe a monopod….This was handheld. Distance is your friend here from that Lone tree. I’m about 600 yards out from it for this shot. This is a full sized image not a crop. Doing this kind of photography has found me on my butt more times than any other. The moon is constantly moving, I’m usually on some parallel ridge walking forwards (as the moon is rising and to the left a bit while looking through a 2 foot long lens (tube) and not at my feet with sage brush around on uneven ground.
Capturing this kind of image is a “sub-hobby” of mine within the general photography that I do. I find it a seriously fun challenge to get terrestrial objects in the same focal plane as the moon or the sun in twilight or darker conditions. It’s a good skill to hone for when the right situation presents itself.. Like this 📸
You have to get working that camera on Manual if you want to do this kind of work lol. Cell phone cameras need not apply and won’t do this without an external lens of some rigged hook up….lolol Lots of fstop, then all you have to do is adjust the other two parameters left, ISO (camera sensitiviey) and Shutter speed. I’ve covered that many times elsewhere so I won’t do it again here 📸 Suffice to say, distance is your friend here and lots of lens to do this.
. 2×3 aspect to 3 feet tall from a 1200 mm telephoto lens. Full frame not a crop.