Random things happen all the time. Who would have thought I’d come upon two yearlings (1.5 year old buck anyway) playing hide and seek in the woods. They both carefully backed in behind the old pine to hide from me… Not seeing each other figured they were safe… What happened after this I leave to your imagination but I suspect someone or both got a startle when they bumped. I know but I’m not telling 🙂 I unfortunately did not get much more on camera as they weren’t cooperating with my mental wishes.
Back to my normal programming.
Well the twilight was spectacular anyway as par for the course of late. Magnificent skies are the rule rather than the exception when wispy clouds are overhead and there is a lot of smoke in the air. Long traveled sunshine colored the clouds with only the finest of displays that night.
Finding two deer on a ridge in front of the show was cool. Having them pose for me, priceless. The two caught in my cameras stare were frozen in time. Click. Who can argue with photographic evidence of hide and seek play lolol.
At first I had an imaginary shark hunting the water in the distant. The waves covering all but the dorsal fin. No wait… perhaps it’s a sail boat at a good breeze in high seas. The crest of the wave hiding the hull of the sailing ship. The illusion of waves swelling in the open ocean is unmistakable. I’m often taken by flights of fancy. The freedom to search for what could be is sometimes more compelling that for what is. On that segue…
I watched this moon descend into the cloud bank on the right 15 minutes earlier. Wrote it off for the session. I figured it would be obscured. From that point on, it was just until I looked back to the horizon. Looking the other way… Preoccupied I was working the sunrise on the dawn side of the sky. I was aware (back of my mind) when the moon was setting. Having done this a few times I finally did glance around at the other horizon JUST in case. I was surprised when I looked up to see this vision. The clouds had moved to the right leaving a window to the really low moon.
Now this was taken with a huge long lens. These totally screws with your perspective. Zooming up on the relatively small mountains, makes the moon looks big. That ridge is 40 miles distant. The place I set up for this backshow of the sunrise that morning was high enough to give me views both ways. Around 4000 feet which is high ridge country in this corner of Wyoming.
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
So how many faces/creature can you see / imagine on these distant storms. A “just after” sunset backshow with the dark clouds below the red being the shadow of the horizon. Montana on the left, Wyoming on the right.
This large mesocyclone was about 100 miles distant from my ranch a few nights ago. We had just fought a grass fire on ranch and this was the storm that started it all. That was a long day. I finished talking to the Bureau of Land Management fire crew that was going to sit on the “extinguished” burn site. Having someone around for a few days is a good thing after a fire.
The sun had already set in this twilight longer exposure (around a second). It was pretty dark. The smell of smoke and burned prairie in the air. I watched several snakes come out of their holes to leave the burned area at dusk. We got it out. Well, it was out 2 days later after I extinguished 2 other flair ups lolol.
At any rate:
You Pariedolia sufferers, (you know who you are), this image is classic fodder to let your imaginations run wild. The genetically derived propensity to see figures in random data. If clouds, water swirls, abstract patterns etc. set you off in a fantasy world….. good.
Personally on the left storm tower appears to me to be a Happy Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars. On the far right tower is a wolf looking left or a bear looking at you. That’s the best I got out of this but some of you always push the envelope.
I take photos of cloud formations that look as if they might be a good test for your anthropomorphic visualizations. Pareidolia is the tendency to see familiar shapes in random data. This totally unaltered image of a small late afternoon thunderhead that wants to grow but turned into perhaps a polar bear with big eyelashes and Grouper Fish lips. Everybody that has this “ability” see’s something different though many of us see the same thing as well. There is some commonality in our “condition. Some will see a cloud, others will let their imagination flow and come up with other alternatives. IT was a beautiful Wyotana Twilight. My favorite time of the day.
Of course it is this ability that we are trying to teach to our computers for facilitating facial recognition. Once AI becomes heavily involved, it will be a big deal. Stay tuned for that. The machines ability to do facial recognition now is amazingly sophisticated. Our brains are more creative but not as fast nor as systematic as the AI will be.
Evolutionary Biologists will tell us that the ability to see faces out of limited information (dark forests) kept our ancestors alive longer than those that didn’t have that ability. The psychiatric establishment at one time considered those with this tendency to be psychotic and often would put the “patient” away for a “treatment” in some wonderful home for the insane. Let’s not forget that piece of history as those that forget such often live to repeat the mistakes of the past.
The color of Alpenglow here in the borderlands of Montana and Wyoming (both states in photo) depends on the physics of the moment. Peach and Cranberry are what I consider the rarest of colors. This peach color is one I rarely see.
I study light plus the processes that facilitate it’s delivery to my photon traps (cameras). This Mule Deer Doe was attune to my presence but hardly concerned with it as there is a lot of elbow room around here. She was chewing on some rose hips by the looks of the brush she’s standing over. Chewy and she was putting some effort into it lol. This time of year the backcountry is full of tasty morsels.
You will note the marked brown color of the grass here in mid-july. This is going to be a big fire year unless the rains start falling hard and fast. We got clobbered July 5th by a Hail Storm throwing a 1/2 hour of 2-3 inch chunks at the grass. The grass this year between the grasshoppers, the hail and the drought is going to be a tough crop to bring in. Running the machinery will hardly if at all pay for the fuel to do so. Having said that, I just spent close to 1000 dollars getting our ranches 5 ton grass fire truck up and running. That truck is a post all by itself someday.
I don’t see a lot of really strong “Belt of Venus” Pink even in the winter but it’s out there if ice is in the air. At As the long traveled reddish light hits the projector screen the ice collectively makes, that ice glows the color of the light. Just before sunrise, the blue darker clouds barely above the mountains on those clouds is the shadow of the horizon on them. That shadow “zone” will turn pink as the shadow drops with the sun rising on the opposite horizon. The clouds above shadowed by the cloud deck topping the sun slit also on the opposite horizon. So just a bar of sunlight making it to cinema screen.
This is that moment in space and time when the red light of the ice filtered morning sun, touches the far mountains. As far as backshows go, this is a good example of that variety of Alpenglow. (Belt of Venus). The planet Venus is Often in the pink some mornings. The pink belt surrounds the sky behind a sunset or sunrise if there is a LOT of ice in the air. The best Alpenglow displays are early winter based on my experience. Atmospheric ice requires temps obviously below freezing and at 4000 feet in elevation, that isn’t that hard to do. I’ve seen good Alpenglow like mid-summer before. It’s off season appearance is a fairly common event but it usually isn’t this intense. Interesting year.
The Poetry of the moment is often hard to quantify but as poetry it does qualify. The color of the scene is a result of the cold hard physics of the world. The light proceeds on it’s path until some substance acts either to block or bend the dual nature of particles and waves. (This is a wonderful concept and worthy of an extended google search this AM). Light acts sometimes as a particle but also has wave like properties. Scientific wisdom everyone needs in their daily life but is beyond the scope of this narrative 😝 🤘
Turtle Butte from this angle is often confused with a volcanic cone (and even volcanic during a few of my journeys into satire). Maybe it’s just me. Impersonators are everywhere in geology. Things that “look like”. I can’t tell you how many people have asked me about those volcano’s. FYI, they are sedimentary remnants. Hard Cap Rocks protect the sediment below… . It’s all in the details, not the shape.
Humans are generalists. We miss details but do gather a wide interpretation of scenes at first. Shape! Then we slowly start focusing on details like composition and color. The color here is spot on to the original scene. I take great care in this exposing the highlights such that detail is still visible in them. If you’ve never spent twilights in Wyoming or Montana, you’ve never seen skies like we have. My job is to climb the 300 foot high ridges in the dark to get into position before this amazing show of artistry by mother nature. My photography is resultant of the various to and fro journeys pursuing those dual nature particles. (Photons).👀 🤔 📷
Twilight captures in June tend to be a very early morning rise for me. I’m thinking the night is just right at 8 hours long between sunrise and sunset these days. That makes for relatively short nights by the time I maintain my cameras for the next morning. Get up, get the dogs on patrol and something in my gut for breakfast. Then grab cam and go.
I often travel miles over two track backcountry roads to get to various locations I like to work terminator crossings. Some highpoint/ridgelines I frequent more than others but it depends on the time of year. That time of year of course controls which direction the sun is rising and setting. The sun is very far north at the moment and 2 days from the Summer Solstice as this posts (about a week after it was written on June 10th).
I get to have the sun rise and set over landscape features this time of year that I only see align for about 2 weeks. Similar short lived opportunities occur around the winter solstice as the sun rise and sets are furthest to the south. This celestial dance happens year after year. I just adjust my planning for where the “next photoshoot” is going to be based on the calendar. I run into most of the wildlife I photograph either on the way to work a sunset or after a sunrise on the way home. I’ve given up photographing wildlife in too dark an environment. Fully a waste of electrons as wildlife moves too much for low light work. The ones I do capture are rare. The wheel continues to turn if you watch.. 👀🤘
Reconstructing past lives and events grabs your minds eye coming upon an old homesteads and a windmill.
The comings and goings of old homesteads spark my imagination. There is a demolished homestead about 1/4 mile from this location. Pieces and parts of past lives past scattered about. They had their own hand dug well 35 feet deep and 4 feet wide about 200 feet from their house down in a deep gully. I filled in that hole when I first moved here. It was an “attractive nuisance” and 35 feet deep x 5 feet in diameter. Hand dug… Many settlers had to use the water at their windmill. I suspect an outhouse long since gone somewhere nearby downward of the prevailing wind but hopefully away from their water source.
This land has had cattle or sheep on it for 100 years and slightly more. That’s 5 generations of cowboys/herders that stayed the night or the summer in this treeless pasture. Finally when this wind engine was installed, being the only source of water for several miles around, the cowboys drank here too. This is very big country open back country. It’s remote and just plain challenging to get to in the winter.
This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. Wells were positioned centered in the pasture. This made it accessible to the entire area. A lot depended on the ground water geology to make the shallow wells work long term. (luck mostly early on). Don’t get me going on geology lolol.
It is fairly unusual for a Pronghorn of any sex to walk toward the camera directly. This one is a doe. I can count on one hand the number of images I have even similar to this posture. Mostly visiting photographers see their butts heading out. Oddly, she was literally walking directly toward me for some distance. Must be near sighted… Or that Black pickup looked like an angus lol.
I would indicate though that if there isn’t triplets in there, I’d say she is going to have quads. Technically this might be the biggest “Fastest” land animal in North America. She might have been a little not fast enough last fall. I will tell you with certainty that she is not as quick as she was last year before that Buck got involved. I’m really not sure if she is aware of the fact that that “coat makes her butt look big”. I’m not going to tell her. A professional has to maintain appropriate relationships with photographic subjects after all.😇📷
I see so many Pronghorn each year I can’t keep track of individual does but this one seems familiar with me anyway. She looks pretty scraggly but that is only because she is shedding in clumps of fur. She’s perfectly healthy. Most Pronghorn in cattle country have big chunks of hair off their back as going under barbed wire fences at 30 mph has it’s draw “backs”. I’ve seen those scars get infected before but it’s not that common such that it kills them from it. It’s only known in the Presidential “Book of Secrets” why they prefer to go under fencing rather than over like every other ungulate in North America. 😜👀
Great Blue Herons are not common birds here on the high plains but they do come to roost and breed each spring. Our ranches wetlands have our share of Heron Breeding Pairs. These two are sitting in a fixed up nest that still remained from the year(s) before. Breeding/Nesting in the high branches of Cottonwoods is a common thing to see up here for Herons. 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 sitting birds in all the nests this eventing this was the only parent returning in light I could catch him in. Later was too dark to catch any action.
Absent all winter having migrated to warmer climes, they returned a month ago to start nesting. . These guys were also a football field away from the vantage I had on an adjacent ridge to get this level look at the tree tops. Add a very long lens and you get “up close and personal” if you will. Early on I can see most of the nesting in this 1/8 long mile extended cottonwood tree line. Habitants last year included a great horned owl and chick in addition to the Heron Rookery… I love this place’s diversity of subject matter. Raptors fly about harassing the Great Blue Herons.
Talk about a long landscape.. This is a VERY long shot… The Pronghorn here (all Males) are traveling but were nice enough to frame themselves at this remote ranch gate. The first ridge out in the “Prairie Dog Hills” is 10 miles distant from my camera. The “Red Hills” off in the distance are 40 miles away from the lens.
It’s obvious that Spring has Sprung. The grass is turning green. It is rocket fuel for the animals that have been eating brown grass all winter. Green season is one of birth and new growth up in a harsh country of long winters and frozen climate. These males survived the long winter this year.
Under this lighting condition, I was lucky to get as much detail as I did. The effect of extreme distance is with a REALLY long telephoto, is that even objects a mile away are in a different focal plain that the distant mountains. I had to resort to a low F-stop number to open up the aperture in the lens to let way more light in. The dark conditions just before the sunrise were such that deep focus was not an option while still capturing moving animals with no blur. I had to cave into the light and use the evil low f-stop number for a long shot. I really don’t like to do that. Rule #2 of Photography is to : “Get the Photo”.
With a pink “Belt of Venus” twilight sky behind, the Male Great Blue Heron brings the sticks to it’s mate. The female builds the next and this is a brand new nest for 2020. There are at least 6 other nests in this treeline for these 5x5x5 birds. (5 foot tall, 5 foot wingspan, and 5 pounds). They are basically dinosaurs without teeth and tail in this paleontologists opinion. Tough light to freeze a flying flapping bird…
Spring time, the trees are just leafing out thusly I can still see these birds in their “bush”. Getting to see nesting activities this late in the game is difficult and changes with the lighting direction. While I’m waiting around for “flybys” and “launches” plus lighting… I’m busy searching this tree line for the Raptor and Owl Nests as well. Earlier last season I got a few long range captures of a Great Horned owl and a “chick” just down the tree line. This is a very biologically productive spot.
I am able to see clearly all 7 nests in this “rookery” at this early date. The female builds the nest with the male providing the “sticks” and other materials used in the construction. They start way early in the spring taking a month to hatch their eggs. It’s just about when the leaves start budding out on the Cottonwoods when I start seeing fledgelings. The leaves will obfuscate most of the nests from my long lenses (150 yards across a lake and 50 feet up this Cottonwood)
These large wading birds eat about anything they can catch/spear or otherwise grab. They hunt along the shorelines of the many lakes long the old “Texas Trail”. That trail runs from Miles City pretty much right by this spot as it continues down to Newcastle Wyoming. Most of the old cattle routes eventually head towards Oklahoma and northern Texas. I suspect millions of Montana Cattle Raised Cattle passed by this spot historically. They drank from this spring fed pond and enjoyed the large grassy pastures surrounding. It’s a nice spot to camp out for a few nights you might say 🤠 I suspect the herons were around here then as well….👀. Northern Wyoming/Southern Montana is certainly known as/located in their breeding areas.
This is 10 minutes before sunrise this early spring morning when i ran across this fellow. He was actually heading my way as I was setting up to shoot the sunrise soon to occur over my shoulder. I’m in my vehicle and pretty much in a “blind” as far as the local critters are concerned. They usually don’t mind if the vehicle moves either as long as it isn’t a fast movement or more than 20 or 30 yards moving slowly. Approach is very important lolol. Pronghorn are way more tolerant before Civil Twilight that after.
This country is big. I drove about 2 miles out into the backcountry to have this guy cooperate while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals sit for me… The Orange Alpenglow was just a foretelling of the sunrise minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. The Orange is the surviving Light that has traveled hundreds of miles through atmosphere. Th ere is was reflected from atmospheric ice acting like a projector screen.
There is no snow here at the moment as this posts. . ….for late April. We have had BIG snows in early May…… It has been a very long winter as it started October 1 this year. It’s been not terribly severe but it’s been cold enough long enough for me lol. Life up in the high Wyotana borderlands can be harsh at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸
The Three Sisters were one of the landmarks well known to those on the pioneer migrations. They could be “seen for a hundred miles” from afar. While navigating the open prairie over two track trails rutted from the wagon in front of you. Out of the morning mist, something you have just read about appears in front of you. Three Sisters were back lit up by alpenglow and the rising sun far off screen left. Also Known as the Missouri Buttes. They were an important landmark to the old wagon trains and settlers out in this country. It took a while to get from Saint Louis to this spot.
This taken a few weeks from now back in 2019 and just finished. Just at sunrise far to my left.
The Curved trail of red crushed “clinker” rock leads to an abandoned homestead in the middle of a BIG grassy area stretching 30 miles to the Sisters. The old homestead at at this location burned down many years ago. Like so many other places it was absorbed into a larger ranch. Our ranch has at least 4 old homesteads within a few miles of us. All abandoned from when this remote country didn’t have electricity or phone. Those conveniences didn’t come in to the many areas around here until the ranchers put up the poles and ran the wires back in the 50’s and 60’s.
You all have a great day and be safe in your abode…
Location: The Pass to Rockypoint on Trail Creek Road. Campbell County Wyoming.
My job is to be aware of the sunset the a sunrise each day. I check the light all the time deciding whether to take out from my homestead with a ” box o cameras”.
Sometimes clouds trap all the light, the actors of the stage show have no spot to perform in. Sometimes I get to watch dramatic plays happening overhead taking over an hour from start to finish. I have a tough job watching entire sunsets and sunrises as they mutate from second to second. I might take 800 photos of a particular sunrise as this. 3 or 4 images of those images from the twilight will be finished. More images later from after sunrise of this morning with different frames. They were equally as dramatic.
Skies as above are rare but the high ridges I work have their share. My studied perspective/understanding of this place is totally incapable of comprehensively navigating the complexities of the workings of this, my local “universe”. (for lack of a better word). There is no way to gather the information needed in our own limited memory of our short travels/experiences here on earth. . Ironic, the complexity of our thoughts the local “universe” can not conceive, but the perspective it has is beyond our comprehension.
All of us has ultimately a figurative and literal connection to the land lol. We will all end up there with all that came before. Some in our society are multiple generations removed from it. Meat comes from the grocery store for them. Not me. I grew up on a farm on the Prairie. Lived on a remote ranch in Northeastern Wyoming/Southeastern Montana for the last 2 decades.
I’m a geologist after all…. I would like to think my connection to nature here it is deeper than most. There is much more connectivity between living things and the environment than we give credit for occurs I feel. Even disconnected to nature by nurture human/me, can feel things happening an orderly manner here in the highlands. It’s probably my own psyche settling into the cycles, the yearly natural events of this place in space and time.
A tripod can come in handy in this lower light civil twilight sky. Long exposures are hard to do without them….
The joy of my work is that I get to see scenes like this. There of course is some discipline involved being up on those high ridges I frequent chasing light. Mostly it involves just kicking my legs over the side of the bed and getting up. I rise up pretty early in the summer with very short nights coming my way. Working the light often involves short nights. I might go third shift this summer and stay up from sundown to sun up, sleep during the day. It’s possible this is a better schedule for me as I’ve done it the old way for years lol.
The Close / Far Perspective in Low light is a function of how low the light is (chuckle). On the one or two mornings a month when the sun is rising coterminously with the moon setting, I hope to get a window to the moon. When I saw this cloud band cut across the Lunar Disk I figured that was the end of the show. Fortunately that was an incorrect conclusion.
I photographed this moon until it sank into the notch on the ranch on the right. Having prepositioned myself to position it setting in that notch. I find I am easier to move that either the ridge or the moon so you have to be accomodating to the Physics of the moment… 😜. This was a 250mm lens. I can bring to bear 1200 mm on that horizon for an up close and personal look. Posted in another place of course. Knowing where the moon is going to set is a simple matter of exploring a search of “Moon Compass” in Google. At least one of those sites will tell you where and when it will set. Then all you have to do is decide where to be when it sets. Being able to set and read a sighting compass to correct for Magnetic Declination changes will help in this endeavor. I use my personal 40 year old Brunton™ Geologists compass for such things. 🤔👀📷
Alpenglow with a Zig Zag Landscape Ladder with a reflective ice surface. That pond is filled by the melting snow off that hill.
This is pretty far back into the backcountry on my ranch. I didn’t even know there was a pond in this “Cul-de-sac” until a few years ago when I first found it. It was built in the 1950’s according to the engineers office. It only fills with melt water from about 200 acres of a small portion of this overall drainage system. This is sandstone country with about 500 feet in 10 miles difference between the “Little Powder” river in the valley with the ridge tops here.
I have to climb that far ridge to see the eastern sunrise and you’ve seen many dozens of images up on it. It’s a little harder for me to get to the top in the winter but I’ve done it numerous times. For those of you that keep track of such things, this is just east of ridge one looking at ridge two on the far south end of the ranch. That’s right at 300 feet difference in elevation and about 2000 yards to the ridge top. That takes a while to get there lol. It’s all two track roads over the divide. Then I walk or ride on ridge tops as is interesting with the light. I have an 80 mile view east from that ridge.
Musings on getting out of Dodge:
Knowing when to stop taking photos is a significant skill to acquire as a photographer. Wasting time, battery and disc space is bad JuJu. I know my camera backs pretty well and know instantly when I have the scene in front of me captured. The image rolls around in my head like a melody does for some. Then: It is necessary at that moment to analyze the possible future scenarios of the light unfolding in front of oneself. To predict the future is a skill worth working on. That very attribute leads me to a better area/angle/direction. Working landscapes is all about that. Finding the Frame.
Perspectives of Close/Far are a favorite pursuit of mine particularly if the Moon is part of the photo. In the gamut of my photography, chasing the moon seems to be a constant. This chase is literally a sub-hobby of mine. Nestled within the larger business of pursuing the possibilities of light on a broad scale. I consider my self to be a landscape photographer. I find myself distracted by any movement or unusual angle most of the time. This Evening the skies had me working at an operational tempo most seal teams would envy. One of the things I try really hard to do during a moon rise this clear is “keep busy” lolol.
A photographer is only as good as his the source of the photons we capture. It’s harder than heck to get the moon to sign a model release I have discovered. The hillside was WAYYYY easier to get to “sign”. This was a cool evening by the way. It was around 15 degrees at the time, 3 inches of snow all over the ranch land.
Remember trying to do a terrestrial object with the moon, distance is your friend with a telephoto. Further back, the hillside would have looked much smaller to the camera. This relative to the moon which would look bigger compared to the normal hillside. Topography is my master.
It was very dark for this and is sort of a time exposure for a full moon. I’m digging seeing the highlights in the grass on either side… First time I’ve see it.
In the spring of 2019 mid-April, I took a “Wyoming backroads” trip up the Powder River Valley crossing the Montana / Wyoming border. This area is about 70 miles west of my ranch. It takes about 2 hours to travel to the start of this excursion.
The light this night was second to none. I drove this 2.5 hour drive in 4 hours. The last hour and a half was pitch black night on unknown country roads. I do carry two compasses at all times. I didn’t have a GPS which I have to admit would have been nice that evening. Navigating the crossing roads is not easy up here as they might start out going east but eventually wind straight north. So dead reckoning might just get you the first part. I’ve actually only been disoriented one time in 30 years up here. That was on an overcast night in the middle of a very large featureless grassy pasture. I had a compass which got me to a fence line with narrowed down my choices to two lolol.
The country along the Powder River reminds me of the Yellow stone plateau but without the geysers, tourists or buffalo. There are a lot of cattle ranches and CLASSIC photos to be taken along that drive. If you need directions and suggestions I request you PM me and I’ll get you on the right track.
Some twilights are full of primary colors so pure they rival a new Pantone swatch chart (about 300 bucks new). I very carefully reproduce what happened that morning here. The snow had a decidedly cyan tint which I can see clearly in my minds eye from the moment of the shutter release. I don’t see it too often, it’s always under intensely involved Twilight Skies. I see so many posted images of electric blue snow. I’m confused because I have never seen electric blue snow in real life.
I’ve lived in Wyoming working with color images professionally or other artists beginning 1991. Experienced a few well taken winter images up here I have. It is my observations that Blue Colorcast in Snow is quite rare. Images that have it, are (usually) either 1: improperly set up white balance (most likely), or 2: intentional twisting up the volume on a broad stroke color enhance control. Now I’m all for art in a photograph but with full disclosure of the deed. I’m not going to present an art work as a photograph. It’s a matter of Professional Courtesy to other photographers.
I have found that a good portion of the viewer ship like color enhanced photos. Everybody has their own likes and that what art is all about. Unfortunately for that segment I’m a photorealist and try VERY hard to accurately reproduce what I saw at the time. I’m sorry, if you like blue snow, you’ll have to look at another artist. I live within in a blue snow free zone.
Blue is a rare color scheme from my cameras. I don’t work blue skies very often mid day . Most nights around the solstice (as here) are brightly colored. IT was an odd night. But the wind was dead calm. I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the trip.
Backcountry…. I use the term all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…
This pond is 2 miles of bumpy two track road from the county road passing through a seriously hard wire gate to pass through. Tight bastard it is… The nearest county road is gravel, it is 14 miles then to the closest paved road. It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way flashing red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away. This spot is right at about 200 yards from the Montana/Wyoming Border and it has a bit of both states in the Image as do most of my photos.
The Dam was built by cowboys probably 100 years ago. Located directly on the Miles City to Newcastle Cattle Drive Route, many a herd over nighted at this spot historically. Wetlands are rare this high up the ridge. The crack in the earth that that lets the aquifer leak into this puddle is hundreds of feet deep into the Fox Hill Formation (The Beach sand of the Dinosaurs). I’m still looking for a fossil beach umbrella…..😜
Part of the joy of my job is I get to see odd things occur now and then (OK, every day). I sometimes consider the other places I’ve lived during my travels. Then I compare them to the 20 years I’ve spent on this wondrous place. Not even close .
Magical things often appear in the clouds in front of me. I am just a stenographer taking notes about the big stage productions in front of me. Click click of the keys of the steno machine or the camera. No difference in effect. The details are in the dark here for this fantasy image. Imagine the mood of that moment in time and space. You could hear thunder rumbling 24 miles out.
I can not record all that I see with my cameras. They possess superhuman sight much better than mine but their ability to see dynamic range is limited. It is for instance VERY hard and essentially impossible to take a stars photos behind the full unveiled moon. You could see it with your eye easily. Not so much cameras. My best camera (a Sony Alpha 7R4) has 15 fstops of dynamic range. My only good eye (I’m close to blind in one eye from an injury) has at least 21 f-stops of dynamic range. Far greater ability to see a black cat in a coal bin in a dark room and see the detail in it’s hair. Like seeing the tree silhouettes here under the very dark blue clouds. This was a tough shot to get :).
This is a backcountry very wide angle image taken about ten days ago as this posts. All of this frost has melted since the image was taken but this morning we are hoar frosting again. Foggy and in the clouds as I type this.
A few days of spring return but with mud… There was an 1/8th inch of ice covering most of the south side of trees from this storm. , the sun rising to the south east was just starting to light up the ice that was coating the grass and the trees. The Pine Noodles (Needles covered with ice) were a subject all by themselves this morning of worthy light.
This is a very nice little ridge line being the uppermost reaches of the drainage (Divide) . This particular ridge separates Trail Creek (Wyoming) and Ranch Creek (Montana). I am standing in Wyoming and shooting over the Border to Montana in the distance. I usually work ridges in the early spring . I’m trying to get off the county road talking photos but Mud / snow will keep me out of the Backcountry. Snow depth will deny access to the ridges short of me laboriously plowing snow over two track paths in the backcountry. Slowly but surely, I will have better access away from the main gravel arteries . Deep snow is problematic from my viewpoint. Spring storms often shut the door to me. Tis the wet season with more snow falling in the spring than during the winter here.
I knew what time and place the moon was to rise but it seemed to take FOREVER for the March 9th rising Supermoon. It was precisely this color. The same phenomena effects the sun. “Golden Hour” and better, the red light passing to the pink/red “Belt of Venus” alpenglow. That projected filtered to red light on the ice in the sky opposite of the sun. Same effect here but the moon to my camera. This resultant from the atmospheric gauntlet of dust, moisture of all phase states, pollution etc block out all but the red light. Lots less yellow light made it through in this capture.
So the “Worm Moon A.K.A. Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Sap Moon, Chaste Moon or just the March Full Moon lol.
Of course when the moon OR the sun is apparently this low, you actually seeing the celestial object below the line of sight to the horizon. The image is actually bent around the horizon. The atmospheric lens literally guides the image around the surface to my camera/eye. Getting topography/ hills and a celestial object to cooperate the same time can be challenging. …I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the moon is going to set is a matter of looking it up on google. Get a map, (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up.
I decide where to go early on but am flexible enough to change mid stream because I’m very mobile. Getting around in the snowy hills is a requirement for this job lolol. I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE an alignment will occur. 😄
This moon didn’t sneak up on me by any means. Getting up on the high ridges is of course the place to be for such a shot. The backcountry high in the hills provide all the topography and perspective that any photographer could need. Having free access to many square miles of backcountry WY/MT is always a good thing with a camera. Both States in this Photo.. I was lucky the weather cooperated with me as it disappeared into a cloud deck 20 minutes later not to reappear for over a day.
The stripe of orange Alpenglow under the Crimson Cloud Deck is what the sun light is passing through. A fully involved twilight sky is the result of that red/orange light making it through to the cloud deck This image was taken ON the border line of Montana / Wyoming.
The Butte actually sits directly on the border which coincidentally is precisely 1/2 way between the Equator and the North Pole. Some bright guy in the past decided that a kilometer would be based on the distance from the Equator to the North Pole. That distance is10,000 kilometers between the geographic characteristics on the globe. There is actually a difference in distance to the south versus the north pole from the equator. That is something you’ll need to google for yourself 👀🤔😀
I must climb several hundred feet of topography to get this eastern view. It’s a several mile drive over two track roads. This spring time image from from May of 2019. I’m about tired of spotty snow and mud patches in the backcountry and am waiting patiently for mid may to open this magical world back to me. I do miss unlimited access to the ranch’s high ground. The views are spectacular up there. I consider the east west view from certain high points around here to be 180 miles from horizon to horizon. The Big Sky of Montana merges seamlessly with the Wonderful Wyoming Skies right over my place.
A capture from directly on 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. Scattered dinosaur chunky chunks are present. This is VERY big country to walk around in and cover any significant ground.
Up here in the borderlands, a variety of things are found 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. 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.
This view of a BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder was taken 6 months ago. The grassy remote ridge top 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 Little Powder RIver Valley and the Powder River Basin lie between the Mountains and my ranch. Geomorphologically, 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 north of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next fall again. The sun will continue to set a little more north each day until June 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.
Our here in the high ridges of the borderlands separating Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. Overhead was a wonderful twilight sky clouded above to an under lit cloud deck. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me. I adore grass light filters 👀📸
To use the still green seed heads of this prairie grass to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy subject. Grass contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves and Geometric forms abound. Over the years I have found that “you are where you are during the final minutes of sunset”. My mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fast with a wonderful sky /use these seed heads.
I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun so I don’t carry them. I WAY prefer to use “cellulose” filters to reduce the amount of light coming into the lens.. Any photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You only have just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷
Oh, I’m using the LED lightbar on the front of my ATV for this shot. Twilight behind.