Satire: There was going to be a pickup base ball game but the Pronghorn couldn’t put enough players on the field. I would have enjoyed the play by play. Now if 4 of the deer played on the Pronghorn team, there would still be one odd man out. The someone asked who had the ball and bat and no one remembered to bring it. Go figure!
That ‘s the problem with ungulate sports. They are as a group focused on food an danger. Anything else is transitory . You will also note that the Whitetail squad also was a no show entirely. They will probably show up with their coach “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. I have no control over their actions. 😜
Back to my “normal” programming.
I don’t see close encounters of multiple species, that I can capture on one frame, of ungulates out in the backcountry. Even so, this is the Serengeti of North America up in this portion of Wyoming/Montana. The major national grassland 20 miles from here to the south puts us on a migration route with many hundreds of pronghorn passing through each late fall/early spring. The Deer herd up in the late fall just after rut through mid spring. Then they break up into smaller groups and finally does with fawns. Only to regroup again later in the year. It’s all a cycle over and over again. I’ve watched this numerous times over the years… Rinse and Repeat.
Some would call this a cloud bank, however if you look closely, it extends all the way to the ground. It was slowly heading our direction reaching us within an hour of this capture. The morning was beautiful, calm, clear overhead with a clear sky sunrise to my right. The approach of this cloud bank obscured the sun for the rest of the day.
This location has a wonderful view toward the northwest over the Montana border (I’m standing in Wyoming). There is a natural frame here (or 10) on this ridge. It is only a few miles from my homestead and a relatively “easy” drive to get up the hill. This time of year snow drifts about. I suffer long periods where I am denied access to locations up on this ridge. The view without that cloud bank is about 60 miles, with about 6. I have more images with this cloud bank literally rolling in at ground level.
I definitely consider myself a landscape photographer. As an artist, I actually photograph very few people (as I don’t see a lot of people here). I think in 20 years of running around the backcountry here I’ve run into 3 different people I didn’t expect to see randomly. All had a good reason to be there. (Pipeline inspectors and local ranchers looking for lost bulls). The pipeline people call me now first as they should. The ranchers have free access.
Not that I will turn down offers by local wildlife to pose for me. Then there are the always the famous photobombing Windmills known as the “Pete” brothers. I have no control over their actions. Fortunately, windmills get tangled up moving through timber. These high forested ridges are Windmill Free Zones. 😜📷
When the trees on the ridge 40 miles distant from my lens are in focus (more or less for the distance), the sun is scalloped and crushed The hundreds of miles of atmosphere the sun is filtering through, is distorting the suns edge. I get to watch those scallops move in real time when I set up shots like this. Big long lenses are necessary to do this kind of work.
When present, heat shimmer will create optical distortion that will diminish the quality of medium and long distance photos. trees at 40 miles is pretty hard to focus with moving air caused by heat islands in between my camera lens and the ridge. There is some distortion of those trees by the intervening atmosphere as well. Imaging anything over 20 miles I find you start running into distortions of various kinds. It’s not the lens, it’s the atmosphere.
What can you do about this distortion problem? Heat waves in the landscape are an image quality factor that you generally can’t spend money to put behind you. For example, a sharper lens and a better camera are not going to remediate the problem. . Selecting a different location, a different time of day and/or a different day completely or even a different season is often the best solution. A cloudy day with low temperature fluctuation may work for your image. Low angle moon and sun images are going to have differential heating between you and the moon/sun. Fact of physics and the environment.
This view of a BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder was taken a week ago as this posts. Th grassy remote ridgetop I was on, gives way to the Little Powder RIver Valley. The next ridge is the Red Hills backed by the 13000 foot high peaks of the core of the BigHorn Mountain Uplift. The Powder RIver Basin between the Mountains any my ranch pretty much ends at my ranch. I’m living right on the edge between the Wyoming Black Hills and the Powder River basin. Just west of my ranch, dinosaur fossil Bearing rock that is older than the Big Horn Uplift dive under the sediments worn off the BigHorn Mountains.
Our Ranch is as high topograpically above the Little Powder River Valley Floor as the dark 40 mile distant ridge. It allows me to see the peaks at this 130 mile distance. Weather windows to the BigHorns have been plentiful this year unlike previous ones. The sun is currently setting well south of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next spring again. The sun will continue to set a little more south each day until December 21’st. Then t starts to rise and set a little further north each day until the Summer Solstice.
I try to be very in tune to such things as my daily photographic activities take into account moon rise, sunsets with the time of year. Angles of sunrise and sunset are critical to where I go these days. Weather has the greatest impact of course.
I’m thinking that to get any closer to a 20 day or so old Killdeer chick, a trap would be involved. This is a wild bird out in the summer grass . Parents are all about doing their bad acting of a wounded bird to pull me away. I’m not so sure the little one thought he was in much trouble. The adults sure put on a side show that is certain.
The only way I could get this close was from inside a vehicle. Cars/trucks are mobile blinds and most animals are not afraid of them. This baby of course wasn’t familiar with a vehicle being not that old. These guys are tiny when young. They fly pretty quickly but this guy didn’t take off. He just scampered around the grass.
Killdeer as a group are bug eaters but will eat seeds. The young feed themselves very soon with the parents supplementing their diet early on. They are quick starters you might say. This group was within 100 feet of one of the ranches water holes. I see them in my game trail cameras regularly there. I understand they have been known to wet their chest feathers to cool the eggs in a hot environment. I’ve never seen them raise two broods a year as some do. I watched this guys parents for several months. They didn’t start a second nest at least in that same spot.
This is the second Killdeer sitting on eggs that I have in my portofolio. It is silly hard to get close enough to a Killdeer to take an “eyebrow” photo. To get a Killdeer sitting on a nest without triggering it’s wounded bird display is a slow motion process. Their instinct is to play injured bird to draw you away from their bare nest. They carry on for a hour if that is what it takes to get you distracted from where their next is. It is job one for the little guys. They are actually a member of the Plover family if you keep track of such things.
This parent was sitting on 5 small eggs surrounded by rocks. Nothing soft at all. From humble beginnings….. This patch of stones are a Killdeer’s idea of good camo for little eggs that look like stones. They are dutiful parents.
I have many photos of day old chicks running around with their parents playing their part to draw me away. Of course I ignored them and took images of their chicks. Once I know where something is….matter of time Killdeer are a hoot to watch. They are a challenge to watch out of “character” and doing natural behavior. That is besides their bad acting career lol.
This pair is up on a high ridge but there is a stock water tank a few hundred yards down hill from them. I have several game trail camera photos of Killdeer drinking there. (not worth publishing). This isn’t a Game Trail Camera photo lolol . The full sized file is 40 inches x 20 inchs at 300DPI. 2:1 aspect.
The very first of the mornings light skimmed off the high hill tops and ridges. I like to be just on the far side of a ridge for the sky show. Here I caught a calf Black Angus enter the rear door of the cafeteria’s milk spigot. Between the green grass (rocket fuel) and all that raw milk makes them live wires. You never know which way they are going to jump in the spring.
I get a lot of comments regarding the conical pyramidal shaped hill. I often do satire narratives where they turn magicially into volcanos or the rare “American” pyramid. I’m sorry that the truth is way less interesting. Sadly they are just piles of different layers of sandstones and mudstones. Deposted during the late Cretaceous, these layers are world famous.. This is when the dinosaurs were crawling around these sands I’m standing on. Blanketed in the Hell Creek/Lance formation, we never know what we are going to find. . Known from the end of the dinosaur era. They are indeed occasionally fossilferous. I’ve found good sized bones in the grass before (rare but several times). There are indeed dinosaur fossils up here. We earned Bliss Dinosaur Ranch as a name. p
But this is a land of many uses. We raise a lot of grass and cattle up here. I raise some dinosaurs now and then of course. We’ve had a nationally released video of 4 wheel drive activity we’ve done up here. (2008 Petersons 4 wheel drive and offroad’s Ultimate Adventure Video was partially filmed here). We have had a major rifle shoot here every year for 18 years now. Oil has been extracted back in the 1960’s so the place was mineral rich. Open spaces are still open. You would be hard pressed to find much evidence of the 1960’s oil production. There are several pipelines for oil, gas and CO2 crossing nearby. This place makes many things happen.
Jabba the Owl is a Great Horned Owl AND a fledgeling laying down under a wing.
This Capture is WAAAAAY far out there for the optical technology I had at that time. At least 300 yards across a lake at 3200mm. Taken last spring before the leaves sprouted on the host Cottonwood Tree. I only got a few opportunities on this nest as the spring COttonwood leaves totally hid it from me time and time again. . I just couldn’t see him for about a month after this shot. When I finally got lucky with a certain angle and a beam of light. At these distances a quarter mile line of cottonwoods all looks alike from different angles lol. These owls have some of the best disruptive camo I’ve ever seen. It was amazing I found him this time. I do have some other images with him and a fledge standing too.
There was no other way to approach this next as just finding it against the visual noise of the treeline that ALL looks like this lolol. That is a very small area of a big row of trees looking through a long tube with no landmarks lolol. One time I had a green frog at 15 feet in algae to find while looking through a 18 inch long lens. Under High Magnifications, this is nearly an impossible task. To point a camera that precisely with consistency time and time again….nope This capture is taken off a sandbag on a Jeep Window.
A vastly under appreciated species, the Common Grackle, isn’t that common up here. THey appear black from a distance but an up close image will show a glossy purple heads over a bronze iridescent body. What an amazing plumage.
We are on the western edge of their distribution and they are migratory here and elsewhere. This means they are protected as are all migrating birds except for game birds in season by federal law. Don’t shoot black birds boys :(. Actually there are some of this genus (3 species) that are not that common.
They certainly are iridescent however. Here taken in direct bright morning sun. It was down in the grass “borrowing” some of my chickens/ducks feed here in the barnyard. Nothing like being on the wing and finding a free meal out in the middle of nowhere. I get a lot of freeloaders here in my barnyard. I think I’m feeding most of a flock of Sharp Tailed Grouse this winter by their proximity in the trees to my feeding area lolol.
This male Grackle would dominate a seed bird feeder (which I don’t do besides my barn fowls as I have barn/ranch cats). I don’t see them in large flocks but once or twice a year. Usually it’s individuals like this fellow. They are raucous in their chattering. Bullies and thieves mostly but I suspect they play a big part in our food web. There are a lot of blackbirds therefore they have an impact in the scheme of things or so it would seem. 🤔📷.
Landscape Under Moonlight is a 3 second time exposure under very dark Nautical Twilight skies.
Nothing but Moonlight is illuminating this 40 mile deep landscape. The “Red Hills” are the distant ridge across the wide “Little Powder” River valley. I am located 600 feet above the valley floor on the Pass road (Trail Creek) to Rockypoint Wyoming. Looking toward the west/northwest the moon is about as far north as it travels in it’s movement around the planet.
There is no way to properly expose the moon AND gather the very faint light reflected back at my lens. So it might as well be as bright as the sun up in the corner. This is definitely hard to color correct. There were a lot of subtle hues and tones that weren’t natural because of the time exposure. The cloud highlights are indeed excessive as the time exposure allowed it to over saturate. Without digitally replacing that whole area of the image, I decided to leave it as it is.
Photorealism goes out the window a time exposure. They seem to always excessively expose something it seems lolol. Still the technology is very limited in it’s ability to see as well as the human eye which could resolve this. Reading under this light MIGHT be possible under moonlight . No camera on earth could bring this out with the moon’s face properly exposed. To do otherwise would be to have a composite image and not a genuine unaltered photo in this light.
Location: The Pass to Rockypoint on Trail Creek Road, Northern Campbell Country Wyoming. That’s Montana off in the distance. I am standing about 4 miles from the Montana border and those mountains ARE in Montana. (Wyotana)
A Great Blue Heron Catching Some Wind was this bird way of starting to take off. Spreading it’s wings you could see the branch lift as the weight is lessened on it. These birds are masters of their domain. This is 50 feet up at the top branches of a Cottonwood Tree.
For a shoreline wading bird, these guys handle the high tree life roost without a miss. They make their living eating frogs, small mammals, fish and anything else they can catch around their realm. These guys are widespread in our Hemisphere from the Galapagos to most of North America. They breed up here though. They like places where there isn’t much human activity. Where they set up their rookery is quite a ways off an already remote county road. Isolated they are from humans up here.
Not many people ever notice the rust colored feathers on their wings leading edges. Also of note are their chest feathers. The birds actively shread them to make a powder that soaks up all the fish and oils from the wetlands.
I’ve spent many hours sitting and watching these birds. After the nest is built, mostly they hunt/sit on eggs. The male will bring the female the sticks and the female does the engineering. Both parents feed the young and share the 4 weeks of egg sitting. I’ve had a pretty good window on several of the nests all breeding season in 2019. I have quite a few images to finish from these encounters still. Job security I suppose😀
Twilight Over Turtle Butte is a capture from the Montana/Wyoming border. That line is 45 degrees north Latitude exactly, which runs right through that hill.
Its called turtle butte for two reasons. First, the cap rock from the correct angle looks very much as a turtle silhouette. Second, I have found fossil turtle fragments there. Some of them the size of your palm. These fossils are significant only by their presence. They are not valuable in and of themselves. The whole fossil assemblage taken as a whole is the significant scientific information. I have found some fairly nice turtle fossils in this “general area” but not much on that hill. There have been scattered dinosaur chunky chunks but alas, no amazing finds there. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.
Up here in the borderlands I find a variety of things just walking or driving around. We actively hunt deer antlers as running over them will potentially flatten your ATV’s tire. Native American stone and metal artifacts have been found on our ranch. We note the presence of several teepee rings near natural seeps and springs on the ranch. There were no big “villages” up this high up on the ridges.
There were hunting parties though during the summer. The winter restricts access to these high ridges. Where there was water, there was game. Humans have been walking around this country for 11000 years. There is a documented Clovis man site within a 20 mile circle of my place. (LOL, that narrows it down). I still walk places up here that no human has been on before. Certainly try to walk off trail when ever safely possible. You will cover better ground that way. Everyone walks the trail…
Layers of ridges sprawl below the Crescent Moon perceptively nearing the rising horizon. This 2 second time exposure of a 3 percent crescent setting over the Red Hill.s That last ridge is 40 miles distant from my lens. Resolving the different darkness of distant ridges in early civil twilight was a secondary goal in this image. Of course, getting that shadow and full outline of that sliver of a crescent was my main goal. I love alpenglow.
Actually capturing a detectable outline of the whole moon seems to be “restricted” to moon captures fairly close to the horizon. I’m not sure of the physics involved in this observation anecdotal as it is. However, what I do know for certain: seeing the whole outline is a tough capture. I can actually see things like this in the camera’s live video at the time.
The joy of “Mirrorless” removable lens cameras is that you get what you see in the eyepiece (or backLCD) BEFORE you click the shutter. Working in manual mode on a Mirrorless, you instantly know what your settings are doing, you watch it live on the screen. This is NOT a DSLR camera routine where you approximate the settings, take a photo, check the image on the LCD. Then you reset your setting better….. Rinse and Repeat until you get the shot.
I wouldn’t even consider buying the best possible DSLR versus a 1500 dollar mirrorless removable lens camera. Not even close. Mirrorless allows you instant feed back to your actions. If you are Christmas shopping, I strongly suggest you find out about mirrorless camera bodies that take removable lenses. As with anything else, you get what you pay for. I use Sony Alpha 7R series extensively though I have a couple of consumer level Canon M series cameras. I use the smaller chip cameras (not full frame like the Sony) for astro/big telescope work).
Golden Hour Sunset on Snow. When the sun is so low, slowly working left of the BigHorn Mountains here, the light is quite golden.
You would be blinded looking into this scene but the ability to shut the camera down to light changes the game.
This is an overlook across 130 miles of landscape in north central Wyoming. Looking west into the scene that the pioneers saw at the end of a long day of travel. Custer was around here, Native Americans were all over this place for thousands of years. The history here is long, many have crossed that land but daily I walk places where no human has been before.
We are up high on the ridges where there is not much running water. We find TeePee Rings, a few artifacts, stone tools, even a couple of metal ornaments (rare). There actually exists one of the very RARE Documented Clovis Man Habitation site within 10 miles of my ranch. It’s not on my land however. Those same pre-historic folks walked around the post’ glacial landscape burning/slashing/hunting/driving game for a living. I have no doubt they were walking here to some of our artesian spring locations.
When the pioneers got here, they built dams below those artesian wells and formed lakes. The natives didn’t have that option and it can be a long way between water holes when you have deer bladder canteens to carry your water for the day…
From My viewpoint at 130 miles out. This area of the sky is the size of your thumb at an arms length on the horizon. The BigHorn Mountains Cloud Cover that night was climbing up the back of the peaks. It was to cover the highest ones within a few minutes of this image collection. I had a visual window to the peaks that lasted at most a few minutes. The sun was still over head and this was very bright and hard to see. The lighting was high overhead and slightly oblique to the images. It’s a tough photographic environment lol.
Getting to see weather move over these 13,000 feet high ridges is a rare treat from this far away.
These huge blocks of the earths crust uplifted during a major tectonic compression episode called the Laramide Orogeny. Cloud peak is 13,175 feet and is visible in this image. The same compressional forces that uplifted the peaks, also downwarped the adjacent basin to the east. This Basin called the Powder River Basin. This basin the major source of coal in the US. The burning of this coal generates 30 percent of the electricity generated in the United States.
My ranch coincidentally sits directly on the western most edge of the Wyoming Black Hills. It is actually JUST east of the edge of the Powder River Basin. If I drive 2 miles west, I start to see alluvial fan sediment. These sediment fans stretch all the way from the Big Horns. Dissected into ridges by huge rivers washing off the peaks during glaciation. . These alluvial deposits are far reaching, called the “Tullock/Fort Union” formation. Major Mountain sized Anticlines and Synclines resulted from the continental wide compression.. Huge were the forces bending even the underlying crystalline Pre-Cambrian rocks. The rocks to clay washing off of those peaks filled the basin and washed just about to my front door.
Capturing Windmill Sunset 2:1 Aspect is not an easy settings combination to figure out on your camera. It is counter-intuitive to say the least and a cell phone isn’t going to catch this image. The layers of ridges , the sails blur, the rising horizon (setting sun)🤔
Montana skies on the right. Wyoming Skies on the left. Living on the Montana/Wyoming border has it’s little spiffs lolol.
There are 3 things you have to set to run a camera on manual:
1: Your first priority here is to catch a blurred windmill. The only way to do that is to set your shutter speed to a very long 1/15th of a second to facilitate the blur. That makes a longer time for the windmill sail to blur the whole disk. Your kind of stuck with this first setting priority.
2: So then you have a VERY bright sun on the left of the frame. …. …. Your f-stop will reduce light so automatically you turn it all the way to the highest number the lens will go (this was f64). I was about 300 yards out from the windmill. 800mm telephoto.
3: You will still have to turn the last thing you have to set to run the camera on Manual. ISO or Camera sensitivity . I would think not many cameras can do this because they don’t have enough built in dynamic range . I use ISO 80 for this and the camera will go down to 50. Yours will probably go down to ISO 100.
This was done WITHOUT a glass neutral density filter in front of the camera but that might help some of you that cant turn your ISO any lower.
Now you know everything I know about trying to take one of these except, don’t do this with a DSLR camera as the direct light path to your eye will blind you. I look at a video screen to do this using mirrorless cameras. Also, make sure your using a camera that can take this (is rated for it). a direct sun through a long lens can and will melt some sensors in cameras out there. Don’t melt your camera please.
Channeling Japan in the Backcountry is a capture that brings the orient to mind. Classic Pines, striking sunsets, sloping ground. I’ve never done an “Uphill” on the sun’s side before. The extra negative space somehow balances this equation of light and time.
This was a cold morning and I had been looking for a place to do this as the sky was phenomenal. A veiled sun is always a good subject to work on Parallel Ridge. Follow the shadow line and see what lines up. Get some trees a few hundred yards out, turn up your f-stop and see if you can get them in focus with the background. A long focal field utilizing a telephoto lens is possible. But only at the great cost of a loss of lighting getting into your camera. You have to turn light gathering ability up in your camera by either increasing your camera sensitivity(ISO) AND OR use a longer exposure to enable light in over a longer period of time.
So distance from your forground object is your friend. Don’t forget to look behind yourself when you “step back”. The few times I’ve fallen with camera gear were ALL walking backwards. I’ve stumbled a few times doing other things but falling on my ass….all walking backwards. Save the cameras though lolol. Scrambling around the ridges and hills covered with sage, yucca and other low bushes is challenging for vehicles AND on foot. Loose rocks. I’ve put a few miles over such terrain. Sure footedness is a skill I have been lucky enough to develop.
It’s the camera’s I’m worried about lolol. I drop or somehow ding one about once a year. Fortunately I’ve only ever damaged camera bodies. The lenses have done fine. I watched a long lenses 3K dollar rig bounce off the ground
Hawks Photobombing My Landcapes is literally a photobomb in real life.
I was of course amazed at the lighting coming from that mornings veiled Sky. Shooting the veiled sun strong enough for silhouettes to form fools the observer to thinking this wasn’t a very bright sky. I’m shutting down the camera to light (high fstop, low ISO, and fast shutter). By Looking at the furnace in the sky, we need a fast shutter. Convenient if a couple of really fast hawks come flying by. 🤔
So I’ve got that camera/long lens set up pointed from about 300 yards back from the Windmill. The trees are Full sized old grown Pines at 30 to 40 feet high but they are 500 yards distant up a slight ridge. Telephoto lenses crush perspective distance. This is a long focal depth of field because of the higher f-stop setting I chose. High fstop takes away excess light AND gives you deep focal fields. (from the windmill to infinity here).
Looking through the eyepiece at the time with fingers on the setting options (3 only in manual mode to learn about). . I had it all focused and as the birds moved through the focus field they lit up on the video screen. The camera highlights things that have high contrast with their backgrounds. This shows focus areas. An advantage of quality mirrorless cameras is that they can tell you things. What you see is what you get with them.
I’ve taken a lot of Pronghorn Images. These are all 2 or 3 month old fawns running at and eventually run right by me. They didn’t care at all about my Jeep Grand Cherokee running with stinky noisy me in it. I’m just another grazing animal to the wild things up here. At some point in the summer they have seen my particular rig drive by so many times, they just don’t care about it. It’s obviously not a threat. With the Pronghorn, I have to start fresh each spring as they may or may not be the same animals on my ground. I couldn’t tell without some markings to distinguish them and there are too many to keep track of lol.
Just prior to this image, I was watching/photographing a family group up the hill these guys are screaming down. The adults really didn’t scatter but something spooked these hoodlums. I think they just decided to go for a run as their species is prone to do. To this day, this timeline (which has numerous good photos) are the only images I have of these magnificent animals running at me.
There were a couple more fawns in this group that are out of frame. This was a pretty good sized nursery with 7 fawns it appeared. There were not 5 adults. Someone was off or several had twins. I have more of these that will gradually get finished this winter. This was mid-summer this year 2019.
Time to Change Pants was taken by a Camera with a lightning Trigger on top of it.
I know this is out of season. I’m mixing into my daily posts refinished (to current standards) most of my older portfolio (4000+ images left to do. I digress..
There are many manufacturers of Lightning triggers and I endorse NONE of them….. Like game trail cameras, they all have issues I think lolol. In theory, they detect a bolt and automatically triggers the shutter. Your camera settings are highly variable depending on the light so I won’t . I will tell you that 1/4 of a second is a good shutter speed. I’m really glad I wasn’t standing by the camera just under a tin roof (to keep it dry (ish). I was inside my house tending to a project and about jumped out of my chair.
To this day I don’t know what in the barn yard this het. The trees are about 100 yards out from the lens across my “front” south facing yard. Since one bolt is behind the trees fingering down to the ground, I would assume that the bolt is to the rear of the trees. It looks a tad closer than that like it might have been inside my fence.
The time between the flash and the boom was non-existent so it was quite close. (5 seconds roughly for sound to travel a mile). So as a result of this photo, I’ll be using
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands, front yard.
Colorcast orange Banded BigHorn Mountains is an odd color to cover a landscape with. It was really that color lol.
I saw this developing the other night as I’ve been on a mission to catch the sun behind the BigHorn Mountains. Some nights, the weather window is closed to the mountains but this night it was closed to the sun. The 130 miles distant snow covered range was shrouded in this Orange colorcast that was like a stage light with an orange gel in front over the landscape.
This only lasted a few minutes of course as the sun moved down through progressively thicker and thicker layers of clouds. All just prior to being snuffed out by the range. The horizon of course is rising here, not the sun is setting….
I’ve spent a lot of time this month pursuing the Big Horns photographically. The sun and the range is playing peek a boo with the weather controlling the show. I have many good captures from this week which will slowly work their way into my work flow here. T
The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out from this 800 mm telephoto capture on a very high resolution camera. If you hold a postage stamp at arms length and place it against the horizon, this image would fit into a square that side.
2:1 aspect. (very wide. 40 x 20 inches at 300 dpi.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana overlooking the Red Hills out to the Bighorn Peaks.
A large Crimson Backed Amphi-theatre was illuminated centrally. Struck by this serious bolt. Lighting Up the Landscape around the strike was obvious.
I know this is out of season but I’m redoing my portfolio to current standards and this is one of 4500 left to do. Various topics, images and seasons will work their way into my posting workflow all winter. Hope you don’t mind.
The Science of this:
These bolts are a large-scale natural spark discharge. These occur within the atmosphere itself or between the atmosphere and the ground. Created during the moment of discharge, a highly electrically conductive “plasma” channel is created. When electrons flow within this channel, rapid heating of the air up to about 45,000 degrees F.
This Plasma Channel formation was captured by a lightning Trigger. Taken this images was with a Sony Alpha 7RII camera. A Priority is to not overexposing the back ground light in the sky. There isa necessity of not being TOO dark is tricky and this lesson beyond the scope of this narrative. Teeter totter/knife edge riding occurs by tweeking the camera’s settings. (3 way teeter totter). This is a common theme (teeter totter) when I’m trying to explain the light balance and the three settings in a camera set to manual mode. Remember this metaphor if your trying to learn photography.
One seat on the teeter totter is ISO or camera sensitivity. Turn it up, get more light in the camera but at a cost of grainy pictures and visual noise.
Seat 2 is F-stop or aperture (pupil size of the lens). Too big and your depth of focus goes to heck like trying to read in the dark. Too small a hole and you get a really deep focal field (depth) but you loose a LOT of light with a pin hole in your lens.
Seat 3 is shutter speed. Too fast and not enough light will get in. Too slow and you get a blur, (or a time exposure if your on a tripod with the other two seats on this teeter totter set right.
All seats working together properly is the forumula for any particular light situation.
Flash…. 1, 2, 3, 4 boom. Slightly less than a mile away hitting lower than the ridge I was on but in my Jeep Grand Cherokee enjoying the show
This is called Lone Tree Ridge Sunrise. The Clouds were such that I could point the camera into the furnace and actually see details on the edge. Such conditions where I can catch a sun surface like this are not common. The necessary glare filter here is natural cloud cover. I have a lot a captures from this morning using that veiled sun but this is one of my favorite Lone trees. It’s actually alive but it looks pretty scraggly lol.
My arrival at this alignment here is about 15 minutes too late. If the sun was lower I would have moved back from the ridge to keep the angle. Thusly more of Lone Tree would have been above the ridge . The tree is just behind the crest from this angle. Still the effect was very interesting to my artsy side so I finished the image. The yellow sun is natural as the camera saw it. It is way to bright for me to say what color it was outside the cameras protective video environment. Looking at this scene through anything but a mirrorless camera (not a DLSR) could blind you . Pick the wrong camera and you can also burn a hole in your sensor chip. Double trouble with less expensive cameras so be aware.
I worked about 15 locations over a 10 mile stretch of Wyoming Backroads that morning. It was way to muddy to go into the backcountry and tear up my two track roads. I’ll wait until it’s frozen again to venture up into the backcountry.
Having a Photobomber sneak into “Fledgeling Great Blue Herons” was a plus. I was focusing on the two above and in comes the head on the lower left frame. Curiosity got him in the photo lol. I appreciate him extending his neck as the tree was in his way. They can lift their necks up so high after all. Remember these little guys stand up to 5 feet tall and weigh 4-5 pounds. Masters of their domain they are 😎
This was tough light but I’m pleased with the opportunity to catch these guys before they migrated away from the rookery following their parents south. This image was captured early summer and the cottonwoods were fully leafed. I often loose track of the nests as the trees fill in with leaves . Thusly the cover over the nests keeps the privacy curtain up rather well. Not much assistance to me but I’m sure the birds like it.
These guys were up getting some sun. Mostly they had their feathers here but they were still waiting for their first flight. Parents were due to feed them shortly. Breeding/Nesting in the high branches of Cottonwoods is a common thing to see up here. The Cottonwoods line water ways and courses in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana. Tall and safe from any climbing creatures, they set up a home perched way up there. There were 6 nests inhabited this year in our rookery.
BigHorn Mountain Sun Filter is a good a filter for reducing light into my camera as any glass filter out thre. Here the air was clear, there was some gravel dust lit up in the valley at the bottom. There were high clouds in a thin layer.
The BigHorn Mountains are 130 miles from my ranch (and this is taken on ranch). I’ve been following this angle for several days moving about 1 mile and a half north each night for this precise alignment this week. A few nights I’ve had clouds in the way but this night was perfect.
There was not excessive moisture in the air for a change. Looking into the furnace like this is a very hostile light environment for most cameras. Don’t try this at home with a DLSR with a direct optic path to your eye. I look at this through video and am at no risk for blinding.
This is certainly a unique view and I’m not aware of others trying to do this at such a distance. The little black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out (the “Red Hills”) The sky was cloudless but for a thin band as seen as my top frame for the image. What is amazing to me with this photo is the snow blowing up maybe 5000 feet off the peaks on the right.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch in Campbell County Wyoming and Powder River Montana, the Big Horns are in Sheridan County Wyoming. The sun is a bit further out there.
This is the first of 2 images I’ll post from this timeline . Remember that at sunset, the sun is actually moving sideways to the right but not quite as fast as the sun is dropping. (the horizon is actually rising). We are spinning on an axis that is tilted over 20 degrees to the Ecliptic so the sun travels at a 20 degree down angle as we spin. It me a few minutes to work out exactly where to be for this sunset. I’ll post the next image in this timeline of this Sun Settling on the BigHorns tomorrow.
Research/google the word “Ecliptic”. It is an important concept to be able to figure out opportunities as they “line up” lol. I traveled about a mile from my house for this one. I’ve been pursuing this all week. The weather window for my limited opportunity for this line up has been open all but 2 days so far. I have about another 3 or 4 days I can work this . There are so many good images from this totally nutty sky above the 13000 feet high mountain range.
I forgot to mention that I’m 130 miles distant from those peaks and that the range looks small in perspective to the sun. The sun doesn’t change size (get smaller very much as I drive to the east to get further from it. However the mountains will continue to get smaller until I can’t see them if I keep driving. (Make sense?) Further away, small mountains, sun is the same apparent size as long as I stay on the earth lol.
Here you see the third leg of the annual Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Ungulate Track and Field Triathalon. The Mule deer team is over 2 laps back with the Whitetail team a did not show at the starting line. Whitetails are always unreliable/flighty but I blame their management for the miss. They will probably show up tomorrow for the event scheduled today. Typical of the Whitetail species.. 😜
WE are looking at 10 Pronghorn slight downhill run where something spooked them. They decided to take a jog to the left. I see these guys running about daily and they can cover ground. I never push animals as they tend not to appreciate and remember. My next encounter would be shorter and further away if my vehicle acts like a predator and follows. I work out of a Jeep (currently) in the backcountry as a human form would cause them to run sooner. It’s usually not a discussion IF they (as a group) are going to take off or not, it’s WHEN.
Pronghorn are the Fasted Land Animal in North America. Nothing else even comes close. They developed these skills/anatomy as a result of learning to avoid predation. It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations in the last 500,000 years) stopped it’s advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers.
The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. Paleontologist recognize this age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems. About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Sort of like this winter so far…. (Winter Storm incoming as I type this narrative).
Killdeer Sitting on Eggs is sort of a hard to negotiate capture..
By nature, Killdeer do their best to distract you from their nesting spot. It’s essentially impossible to cross their invisible line in the sand without them putting on a show of “injured bird” holding up a wing and exposing their bright underside. These birds are WIDELY known across the US as they are either year round or breeding in the USA. Wyoming is in the breeding range for the species.
I think this is the only sitting on eggs photo I have of Killdeer. They are pretty spooky. They literally live in my yard and every year. Of course the same injured bird ritual rises and repeats. Shooting through grass has it’s issues but this is a rare image as far as I can tell. Getting within a hundred feet of a nest without a big scene occurring is unlikely. I got lucky with this one.
I knew where the nest was having run across the pair of Killdeer earlier that week. (early summer). I have photos of the eggs sitting on gravel/grass. Nothing fancy for sure. There is a lot to be said for working out of cars/vehicles. Much better than a regular blinds because vehicles have radios news and tunes. 🤠 #jeepwindowphotography
This pair is up on a high ridge but there is a stock water tank a few hundred yards down hill from them. I have several game trail camera photos of Killdeer drinking there. (not worth publishing). This isn’t a Game Trail Camera photo lolol . The full sized file is 3×2 feet at 300DPI.
Sunset Across the 130 mile Distant BigHorn Mountains is one of quite a few BigHorn Range captures over most of last week. Amazing stuff 😲📸
Watching this alignment start up with the sun WAY left of the range less than a half hour before this. The sun will always move from left to right as well as downward. Of course it’s the horizon rising but you already know that. (The sun isn’t moving here, the earth is spinning) . The earth is tilted on it’s axis
That tilt is relative to the solar systems flat plane called the ecliptic. All the planets are circling the sun on that plane. The earths north/south axis Currently, the Earth’s axis is tilted 23.5 degrees from the plane of its path/orbit around the sun. But this tilt changes/wobbles like a top. During the long wobble cycle that averages around 40,000 years. (Based on good scientific work eh? 👁
The tilt of the axis varies between 22.1 and 24.5 degrees. Because this tilt changes, the earth is exposed to differing amounts of energy from the furnace over that interval. Paleoclimatology is something I have dabbled in. I will tell you the sun is the driver of our climate so one would assume that global changes occur as the way you face the sun. Yup, the climate has been changing since it all started as a pool of molten rock accumulated in a gravity well lol.
SO back to this photo:
This time of year, sun sets dramatically from left to right as the horizon rises here. But it rises from left to right at sunrise. (The phrase to google here is Ecliptic solar system). So tracking this and watching it change by the minute was very impressive.
Bright bright bright stuff. Shutting the camera down to light ALMOST taken with the len cap on (it’s that bright lolol) You only have 3 main things to set on your camera by working it on manual mode.
They are: “ISO” (Camera Sensitivity), f-stop (aperture or pupil size of the lens) and Shutter Speed in parts of a second (s). Figure out what is important to you (deep focus or freezing motion?). You set f-stop high for deep focal field . F-stop low for shallow depth of focus field. F-stop takes away light so high f-stop (small hole in the lens) is good for high light situations. Priority 1 taken care of.
Your next priority (2) is ISO (camera sensitivity). Low ISO is ALWAYS best because High ISO give you too much light AND a grainy appearance in the image. So LOW camera sensitivity (or slow ISO 100). High ISO is best for LOW LIGHT situation. Really HIGH ISO over 2000 is for the dark if you need it only. I consider ISO evil to go high with.
Last thing on the list is shutter speed which is your variable to adjust the total exposure. You adjust until you get the result you desire. On an older DSLR reflex type camera, you look at the image on the LCD on the back of the camera body AFTER you take the photo. With a Mirrorless Removable Lens Camera though, you get what you see on the screen INSIDE the camera, WHILE you are moving the dials the image reflects the changes you make. What you see is what you get. Instant feedback, MUCH easier for you to learn on. So if you made it this far in my text, and your looking at cameras, pick a mirrorless model, preferably a full frame/large sensor camera. Full Frame cameras have higher dynamic range than smaller sensor cameras. 📸
Don’t USE a standard DSLR camera to take sun photos and YOUR camera may not be rated to take this heat. Large sensor cameras spread out that light and don’t melt like some smaller sensor cameras would here. More important, don’t blind yourself in a DSLR even trying this. Seriously!👁
Crescent Moon Rising in Alpenglow is a very delicate capture taken in Nautical Twilight over 40 minutes before Sunrise. The 3 percent crescent was barely discernible to the naked eye. This 3 second time exposure brought it right out though (sly smile). 😊
The single star showing through is about the last star I could see even straight up. It wasn’t a planet as it was twinkling away and planets don’t twinkle normally. You can see stars in Nautical Twilight but by the time Civil twilight rolls around (28 minutes before sunrise), the stars are long gone.
This is a classic rainbow Alpenglow gradient red orange yellow green blue indigo (ROYGBIV). I see these fairly regularly in the winter. It is not often I see them with clouds about. Typically they form in a clear sky gradient. Either way there has to be a LOT of atmospheric Ice for this gradient to form . A photographer has to be on his game not to wash this delicate color balance one way or the other.
Getting the entire outline of the moon even as a crescent is more common low in the mists I find out. I’m not sure of the physics of this but I think the reduced light from the moon minimized the dynamic range difference and allows the camera to see into the shadow a bit. Our modern cameras have amazing abilities but our eyes see differences in light dynamic range WAY better than the cameras do.