Posted on

Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact

Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact
Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact

Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact

If you stay under a large Mesocyclone long enough, your going to see some interesting things. This bolt was just ahead of a large rain shaft as the storm moved right to left. The dog leg in the precipitation shaft show a pretty huge change of direction. Winds can do very unusual things around these monster clouds. The light environment was basically pitch black post sunset but the flash bulb was adequate to the chore. I have to use a 25 second time exposure to do this kind of work. Wind is never an asset in that work. 🙂

The reason I like this is you can see the point of impact. It hit what I call “ridge 2” about 3 miles to my south of my position. I’m sure it hit a tree seeing the sparks. Fortunately it did rain which would put out any grass fires. I have seen trees burn for days internally after a strike. I have put out several of them. You could pour 1000 gallons of water on a burning tree and not put it out. It usually is nessary to tear it up to really put out an internally burning Pine tree. Most of the time the lighting runs down the outer bark blowing away chunks of the tree in the process. I see a LOT of lightning scars on the old growth timber along the ridge lines. Most trees survive the strikes. Some certainly don’t….

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Mesocyclone Lightning Bolt Impact

Posted on

Lightning Off My Deck

Lightning Off My Deck
Lightning Off My Deck

Lightning Off My Deck

It was pitch black out around 11PM this stormy night of worrying about range fires. I usually end up going “up the hill” after lightning storms with a quality “FLIR” (look it up if you don’t know) to look around for heat signatures in the distance. I find stomping a fire out when it’s 10 feet across is much easier than 3500 acres. Loosing a little sleep and running around the ranch at night is a small price to pay. If I hear thunder, I am up before it fades from the distance.

So I tend to stick around watching such events, nothing better to do…. Might as well set a quality camera on a tripod. Placed under my front porch roof where I can go inside and be close by. I have a tendency to try not to let quality gear get wet. Conditions have been known to change rapidly during these weather events.

The leaves are blurred on the close tree left frame. They were rustling in the breeze which in time lapse photography means blur. The 25 second time exposure is pointed down my driveway to the main gate entrance. That log gate is a 120 yards from the camera. The ridge right in front of the bolt is 550 yards out. The bolt certainly hit the next ridge over which is right at 1000 yards or 3/4 of a mile. I was running the camera at this point. FLASH….. 1, 2, 3, 4 ….. Booom… After regaining my eyesight, thought it might be a good idea for me to go inside and let a lightning trigger run the camera on automatic lolol.

The big white diamond on the lower left is a reflection off of 8 solar panels on a solar tracker. There are more panels you just can see the corner of in yellow sodium light next to it ground mounted. I’m thinking I got a little battery power from this lightning bolt

Location: The Homestead at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Lightning Off My Deck

Lightning Off My Deck

Posted on

Veiled Moon Time Exposure

Veiled Moon Time Exposure
Veiled Moon Time Exposure

Veiled Moon Time Exposure

This Waxing Gibbous Moon was bright behind those clouds relative to the dark around. Some stars are in there too. This is a 5 second time exposure around 11 PM one mid-August 2020 night. Typical for a well exposed time exposure. Well saturated the colors are. The foreground captured with ambient yard light. Taken looking south off my front/south facing covered porch on Tripod… Here at ranch headquarters, give the camera long seconds of shutter open. It’s hard to tell the flag was even moving because the breeze was steady at 15 mph so it was fluttering pretty stiffly. The leaves in front effectively hide the blur. “Clever Girl” at the bottom center of the photo got in my way a bit watching the scene unfold.

I was watering the yard with a sprinkler over by the flag pole lol. I had to overexpose that area to get the rest of the image though. Our Night time, sun activated photocell now shines a modern 200 watt LED at old glory. We have kept flag lit for decades on that 35 foot mast. I put the flag pole in and have fixed it several times over that interval. It was a piece of double wall oil well drill stem pipe. It’s a strong one but the wire…. The best wires to hold the flag wear out eventually. Repair interval is about 5 years. It’s windy up here. Segue…

Speaking of wind… Those clouds are moving right along. They were running not walking through the sky that night. I did a dozen of these time exposures experimenting with where to start with regards to the moons position. When the bright moon, 1/2 a second from being obscured by cloud was shot, magic happens. That mean a differential quick cover (short exposure) of just the brightest thing in the sky. The cloud closing the light down over the moon. Timing is everything as it worked out. The time exposure gave the fast moving cloud cover a chance to blur and get satiny silky smooth. You couldn’t have seen the lit up veil without a differential exposure.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Veiled Moon Time Exposure

Posted on

Busy Little Lightning Storm

Busy Little Lightning Storm
Busy Little Lightning Storm

Busy Little Lightning Storm

If the sky was going to do this, I prefer this distance. Though I understand ground currents from Lightning can hit you many miles away. This Storm is 20 miles south and I’m on rubber tires. You can see the somewhat obscured “wall” cloud surrounding the center of the much larger Mesocyclone storm that though centered south, is over us like a hat brim on a Stetson™.

I close the camera down to light and give the shutter 5 seconds in early twilight. It’s dusky dark which is how I finished the image. This is effectively a short time exposure. Caught two lightning events here. The left two went first followed quickly by the right bolt in the hail shaft.

Note:

This is the last post of mine before Facebook transitions to an entirely new format the first of September 1. I post all my FB work using software, not direct posts. When they beta tested the New FB months ago, tried it, my system of posting failed miserably. I have NO IDEA how this is going to work or not as of tomorrow morning (as this posts). We have a “ticket” into our software company a week old now. As I type this, it is the 25th of August. If I miss any number of normally scheduled posts during this change over, I apologize ahead of time. I will figure it out.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands.

Title: Busy Little Lightning Storm

Posted on

Spiral Lightning and Hail Shaft

Spiral Lightning and Hail Shaft
Spiral Lightning and Hail Shaft

Spiral Lightning and Hail Shaft

The Telephoto time exposure of a gigantic spiral Lightning bolt. It was following the easiest path of least resistance. It’s hard to know but I’m betting this was a ground to cloud lightning. That is of course just a guess. Obscured is the top of the bolt. The shaft of falling hail blocking even the strobe passing behind.. The back of this mesocyclone had a pretty good down draft along with it. Down Drafts from big Mesocyclones tend to shake my Raptor quite a bit lol. I’m usually turning it 90 degrees to the action. Usually facing my window into the wind and rain. That’s hazardous duty for cameras lol. 

Based on empirical observations, Tampa Florida takes the record of lightning events/ strikes I understand. I spent years in that area. Having a memory of quite a few good storms over the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, there are moments up here…. Well let me tell you that 30 miles east of here is a little place called “Lightning Flats”. Right up on the North East Corner of Wyoming. Let’s just say it has it’s share of strikes over there. I know of animals getting killed by lightning up here. I’ve never known anybody killed by lightning to my knowledge. One is much safer in a vehicle as long as you stay away from metal and sticking long metal tubes out open windows….😜 👀

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Spiral Lightning and Hail Shaft

Posted on

Lightning Quartet Last Night

Lightning Quartet Last Night
Lightning Quartet Last Night

Lightning Quartet Last Night

Taken 7 days before it posted here. This is one frame out of several dozen that I got from watching this storm. The limiting ridge is several miles away. This is an aimed telephoto shot on an area of sky I was watching. It was a “little” active there. This was well after sunset with a heavily overcast sky above. It was pitch black except for the bolts in the distance.

I use triggered time exposures to capture lightning in my photon trap bottles. This particular image happened over 25 seconds. The first two bolts on the left happened 4 seconds into the exposure. The two others happens within the next 10 seconds with a few seconds of inactivity before the shutter closed. Then the camera too another 25 seconds to perform low noise processed the times for a proper rendering. I work these scenes with two camera quite often to alternate between the rigs so as not to miss much.

Needless to say, this is a busy shot and I’m glad I don’t have burning ground to my south and east. It was raining as you can see from the rain shafts. I’m thinking those bikers got drenched for the second day in a row. A geographic location called “Lightning Flats” is about 15 miles to our east. We could give Tampa Florida a run at times for it’s money. Lightnings a serious deal up here too.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/ Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Lightning Quartet Last Night

Posted on

Milky Way Over Gillette

Milky Way Over Gillette
Milky Way Over Gillette

Milky Way Over Gillette

There are infinite possible stories about this 25 second time exposure with a very wide 12mm lens. I cropped the darker sides off to give it a square aspect to 18″.

According to NASA, this location (if we turn off our compounds lights which are the blue Stadium LED’s we use for our place) is as dark as the North Atlantic Ocean. Certainly ranking up there for dark skies here at only 4000 feet. The Milky Way spiral arms exist every night. Even above you folks living lower or near population. It’s amazing our eyes can discern most of this but the sensitivity of these modern cameras is just tremendous. It just takes a lot of shutter time to catch it.

As you might have assumed, the twin Blue Glows over my signature are our ranch compound lights as seen from two miles away and over the high ridge between us. The orange glow is a proper exposure of the light pollution from Gillette Wyoming. What an interesting perspective from so far away. I’m parked in Montana with Gillette being some 60 crow miles south of me. The light pollution of all the sodium lights there causes the flow. It’s very faint but the longer exposures will bring out colors well. For those that like star colors, many are in this shot. The Comet Neowise was way over my shoulder at the same time naked eye visible.

You can clearly locate yourself with this one. Sagittarius the Teapot is the low constellation down in the light pollution. Just pouring some tea I think. Jupiter is the bright Planet. Saturn is the less bright planet to it’s left. On the full sized file I have you can clearly see the moons around Jupiter. This reduced resolution social media .jpg has nothing on the 200 times bigger original file. There is just a SLIGHT star motion track on this pushing the envelope for the lens I was using.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Milky Way Over Gillette

Posted on

Under the Spinning Top

Midnight Mesocyclone Lightning Symphony
Midnight Mesocyclone Lightning Symphony

Under the Spinning Top

After a long day of fire fighting, I was done with thanking the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Fire team that stayed out sleeping under the “Stars” outside their fire fighting rig. For this fire, most neighbors, surrounding ranchers and local fire departments had departed before dark. The BLM crew “sat” on the fire over night. They left the next morning for another fire and another set of Meal’s Ready to Eat on the menu. Thank you fire crews and first responders everywhere. You have to love lightning hitting the ground in a tender dry environment full of grass.

That evening on the way home, the lightning show continues. The big round wall cloud that bolt penetrates blinded me at around 20 miles distant. Because this is a time exposure, you have a whole series of bolts recorded in this 30 second time line. One after another over a random few second intervals. I’d say there are 4 flashes in this particular capture. It takes another 30 seconds to process the image internally in the camera. This effectively puts the camera out of commission while it is processing the data. This is why I run 2 cameras alternating back and forth lol. It does keep you busy 📷

That Wall cloud is a really well formed one. I love climbing ridges and getting these views but that was a long day. I gave up after about an hour as the action faded. There are a few more good catches from this event. Long day done.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Under the Spinning Top

Posted on

Neowise and Old Growth Pine

Neowise and Old Growth Pine
Neowise and Old Growth Pine

Neowise and Old Growth Pine

Old growth pines are some of the tallest things around me here in the backcountry. I get a few miles back off the gravel county road, one pasture starts looking a lot like the next pasture. You really have to have a sense of your position. One wrong turn out here and your in a hole that might take a while to extricate the Raptor from. I try to stick to existing two track roads as to not further any damage to the grass lands. Tall trees are sign posts to me as they and the ridges they live on silhouetted against the sky. It’s easy to get disoriented out in grassy pastures a square mile in size. Fortunately, the stars were quite visible so navigation didn’t require a compass.

I’ve had to resort to using a compass a time or two up here. We don’t have efficient cell service and I really don’t trust GPS very much. I way prefer visual, if not, a good old compass will do just fine. Remember to set your compass for changes in magnetic declination (google this) as the magnetic pole does wander. I’ve had to reset my compass several times in the last 4 or 5 years.

Neowise takes about 20 seconds open shutter (exposure) at f-4 to bring in (say ISO 2000) the image. Your settings will vary depending on your lens and camera. The trees illumination however is the result of a moderately bright LED pocket flashlight being swept over about 10 seconds across the surface of the tree. It was TOTALLY dark for this capture. Just star light, a little “curl” light and a little flash light.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Neowise and Old Growth Pine

Posted on

Neowise Against the Star Field

Neowise Against the Star Field
Neowise Against the Star Field

Neowise Against the Star Field

As with most of my work finished on a big computer monitor, full screen is preferred. Click the image to enlarge.

I’m always trying to experiment with different lighting when I do night time exposures. Here I used my yellow flashing light on the top of my Raptor (I often block backcountry roads for 10’s of minutes at a time so I like a warming strobe). So the flashing strobe is like a flash bulb but in yellow. Of course we are in a drought and the grass is brown anyway. The color cast added to the scene I thought for the Close/far perspective. I have another version of this with LED white light. Just as this, the suffuse foreground lighting diminished up the hill. Stay tuned for that image.

The star field is just about properly exposed, sharp and well populated. Interestingly, the longer you leave open the shutter, the more stars that keep appearing. Our sky here on the Montana/Wyoming border 70 miles from the nearest bright city is as dark as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA. One of the darkest skies in the United States. If you have a sensitive camera and a steady surface you can just about fill the frame with stars. There is close to 1000 visible in this photo alone.

When you are leaving the shutter open for 10-15 seconds at a time, ANY movement of the truck the camera is mounted on will ruin the image. It was periodically gusty during this shoot. Therefore MOST of the images I took during this timeline were ruined by the movement. No fixing 1000 stars with blur tails. Ground tripods with really long lenses are better than vehicles due to the smaller wind profile.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Neowise Against the Star Field

Posted on

Windmill Watching Comet Neowise

Windmill Watching Comet Neowise
Windmill Watching Comet Neowise

Windmill Watching Comet Neowise

This full color image taken just outside the north fence of our homestead here in the Montana/Wyoming borderlands. Best tail of a comet I’ve ever taken and I’ve done a few over the decades back to Halley’s Comet in the 1980’s. The surprise Comet Neowise C/2020 F3 is it’s official designation. IT is a naked eye comet in this dark sky environment. Enjoy it as it’s not coming back for another 7000 years. So this will have to do. Let me know what it looks like next pass around the sun. It’s a big one with a 3 mile diameter nucleus. The orange tail totally took me by surprise. I could barely see the windmill in the viewfinder as this presented as pretty much a black screen with a few blotches on it lol. Focusing by instinct really.

I suggest about 3 AM though this was taken around 3:45 AM. I was “working” the comet after doing photography yesterday afternoon AND last sunset. It’s been a pretty short night. I might take a nap today…… Doing night photography is a whole different animal I point out. Not having light makes for a host of issues you have to deal with inside the camera and outside.

Photographic Musings:

With a long lens (this zoom was set to 300mm. Now the hard part with no light, is that turning your shutter speed to 10 seconds makes it VERY hard to focus precisely. Some “messing around” and testing the waters is necessary. Also there has to be some extra camera sensitivity (ISO) to boost the already silly low amount of light coming into the camera. A really good challenge.

Close / Far perspectives are complex during the daylight. This is a 10 out of 10 difficulty image requiring a tripod, proper shutter settings, not too high an ISO and enough F-stop to be able to focus BOTH close and far objects. Razors edge stuff… My lighting source are the low beams on my Ford F-150 Raptor. The LED light bar was TOO bright for the foreground without fogging out the background. So just a little ground light with a 10 second exposure. Any longer shutter with this long focal length, your going to get motion blur on the stars and Comet. To say this was a challenge would be an understatement. I didn’t think I had enough depth of field (focal depth) to pull it off. Got lucky I guess. Good luck trying this.

I have a few more nights to potentially work this comet. It’s all about the cloud cover. Normally I am at least 7 – 10 days out from taking a photo to publishing. This was taken this morning. Front of the line lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Windmill Watching Comet Neowise

Posted on

BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT

BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT
BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT

BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT

I used to do stupid things like go up in the back yard to watch a rain/thunder storm come in at midnight. This was indeed less intelligent than my IQ would indicate my choices might be. Apparently somewhat risk adverse at the time, I was actually driving my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV which while it has a metal roll cage, had a plastic roof. This bolt woke me right up and could have put me right to sleep lol.

Doing a LOT of lightning shots every summer, I ordered “Clever Girl” (my Ford F-150 Raptor) from the factory WITHOUT a sunroof for a reason. IT’s always good to have metal between you and the storm.

Isolated from ground currents probably in the vehicle on rubber…Better than being on foot…. Having said that… I would not like to be under or even closer to that bolt. It felt like an artillery shell being launched. That along with the benefit of being blinded at the same time. Flash bang less than 1 second…

The old “Steel Yard” on the ranch is actually Over that hill. It consists about 1/4 acre of various antique farm implement parts and pieces with a lot of metallic objects. It is roughly 1/4 mile past that ridge line. I suspect the bolt hit a sharp edge there as moist drainage is also over there. I suspect that is where the ground currents went as I noted the sudden lack of Jack Rabbits down there after that too.

That was a very hard core strike from the incoming storm. It was time to go inside which I did post hast having learned my lesson. I’m much more careful now days but working on your porch is about the same thing as the Polaris with the fiberglass window into the metal roof overhead. Inside a vehicle or inside a house with a proper grounding ring around it. Never touch metal in your vehicles during a storm….

Photographic Musings:

This is a 25 second time exposure in pitch black around midnight. Long time exposures at night have unintended consequences. Red and blue colors make pink with both colors being enhanced. The silly long exposure at least with my Sony Alphas give me these hues. I can’t see the real scene of a long exposure on the screen of the Sony to argue with it. This is just a close estimate by the camera of the scene. I just saw a flash… What colors are put out by lightning? All colors…..there was some ambient light from our ranch pole lights too messing the colors up….

Why time exposure? You get multiple bolts with a 25 second or so exposure, ISO 125, f4 to start with… Work from there moving your f stop up a click each shot to adjust to the ambient light conditions as necessary. Review the images for results and pick your poison for the duration of the storm.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch ,Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: BIG SCARY LIGHTNING BOLT

Posted on

Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt
Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Yup, it was a little windy for this capture. The problem with time exposures (low light generally with a punctuated flash during the click) is that wind shakes everything. I was sitting in my vehicle with an open window with metallic objects sticking out. All while next to a tall metal object on a hill top. Perfect place to take lightning photos I’m thinking… What could possibly go wrong? 😀😜👀📸

SO: Windmill Wednesday… Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘 “Sneaky Pete” the windmill risking all to jump into my Lightning image. Hazardous work environment for the young guy.

Photographic Musings:

Blurring a windmill is easy even in a soft breeze. You just have to leave the shutter open long enough to allow the blades to move during the exposure. This is complimentary to lightning as the longer the shutter is open, the more likely it is that you’ll catch a bolt. I also use lightning triggers but they only initiate the click. It’s me that sets the camera up. Lightning I tend to close the camera down to light and do 5 second exposures with ISO and Fstop set dependant on ambient light. This storm was fairly dark so I used ISO 200, 5 seconds and f22. Your setting will vary. Wind will keep your shutter MUCH shorter than 5 seconds. More like .25 seconds. This is where those lightning trigger gadgets come in very handy. Set to ISO 100, 1/25th, F18 and start there with a trigger. Hope this helps… Lightning is tough trying to anticipate it. You might get 1 in 10 flashes If your very quick…

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Windy Windmill Lightning Bolt

Posted on

Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster

Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster
Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster

Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster

This is a 2 feet x 3 feet image at full size. Now I know this is out of season .I’m reposting some images refinished to current specs from this last summer. I think it’s an interesting break from the late winter weather we’ve been having.

It was raining on me at the time about 10 minutes after sunset. This was our version of twilight that late summer 2019 evening. I was in my Jeep Grand Cherokee on a large flat ridge top right in the middle of lightning flashes all around me. One of the better places to be during a lightning storm is in a car. That is as long as your not touching metal. It also helps if you don’t have long camera lenses sticking outside your open window….. oh wait lolol..

Photographic Musings:

There are two ways of doing this. If it is very dark, set your camera on a stabile tripod in a dry area. Take 25 second time exposures at ISO 200 and f11 to start with… You will have to tweek some to see what comes out. Or use an external “lightning trigger” to snap the camera as the bolt touches off. Set your camera near or at ISO 200 F11 and 1/4 second. Your setting s may vary but now too far out. The trick here to get a full frame (not a crop) image was to watch the storm and figure out where the bolts were consistently hitting. Then you just point the camera into that area and wait lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Mesocyclone Lightning Cluster

Posted on

Double the Trouble Lightning

Double the Trouble Lightning
Double the Trouble Lightning

Double the Trouble Lightning

I bit out of season… I need summer, right at sunset….

Chasing lIghtning is not for the faint at heart. Being in a vehicle “reduces” your exposure. It’s also possible for the vehicle to be struck. This can destroy the vehicles wiring or it’s computer. You also don’t want to be touching metal when that goes down lolol. I’ve been very close to bolts before. They are also VERY loud I point out lolol.

I was driving up in Montana where my son and I watched a bolt hit the dirt 30 feet off the road on the drivers side. It hit in front of us so we had a clear view of it. I can still see the scene perfectly in my mind just as if I actually took the photo. The truck was all closed up so the sound was muffled. I’ve heard some pretty loud bolts but with a window open… a close bolt is going to leave some “ringing” in my ears lolol.

I usually work scenes like this with 2 cameras sitting in the vehicles passenger window on window clamp tripods. Using Lightning Triggers allow you to set your camera to click with the bolt flash. My Sony Mirrorless respond within a few milli-seconds to the initial start of the flash. I usually use about 1/4 second exposure which you adjust to the brightest part of the image. (expose the highlights properly). If you set the ISO too high, you will have the bolts too bright which tends to grow them larger than they are. This is about as perfect an exposure as you can get for as dark as it was for this scene.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Double the Trouble Lightning

Posted on

Moon Rise in Pitch Black

Moon Rise in Pitch Black
Moon Rise in Pitch Black

Moon Rise in Pitch Black (This is the Moon NOT the sun AND full Screen is a Must).

Moony Alpenglow I’m thinking. This is a 20 second long time widefield exposure with the camera aperture at low f-numbers (wide open). ISO is less than 1000 for this. High ISO is an evil thing in night time exposures.

I don’t do much work late at night as I do photography all day so there has to be a nap time somewhere. On the occasional night when I’m up over a mile away from my door up on Ridge 1 late at night, I usually bring a tracker along. Set up on Polaris. Takes a few minutes usually. Your camera mounts right to the tracker. 300 -400 bucks on amazon.

Rule of 600 in Star Photography:

The rule states that the maximum length of an exposure with stars that doesn’t result in star streaks is achieved by dividing the effective focal length of the lens into the number 600. A 50mm lens on a full sized sensor camera, therefore would allow 600 / 50 = 12 seconds of exposure before streaks are noticeable. That is unless you are using a device that moves the camera the same rate as the stars move. These “trackers” are a fairly inexpensive gadget but you do have to understand how to find Polaris (North star). Then you can take sharp stars over long intervals instead of getting lines from them moving.

Of course 20 seconds with a wide open iris totally overexposes the moon. That was the point. I wanted to see the moony Alpenglow it was projecting even faintly visible to my naked eyes lolol.

Location Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Moon Rise in Pitch Black

Posted on

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls
Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls (I see the Devil’s Tower’s outline on the left but it’s pretty far out in the snow to show up here lol. )

I’m a photorealist who preaches against “blue snow”. I maintain the practice of maintaining a blue snow free zone in my gallery, except when it was really blue. This was blue sky and hills distant but the snow was white.

So much of the deeply blue snow you see in forum photos is bad or excessive color enhancement or improper setting for white balance in that camera. It drives me crazy lolol. I’ve always argued that blue snow doesn’t exist in nature but for a few, very few mornings, early in twilight. This color is as I experienced it. Think about it, have you ever seen electric blue snow?

I do sunrises and sunsets almost every day photographically. This twilight was a rmisty one indeed. This is a view looking to the south east from near the Montana/Wyoming border. This is very far northeastern Wyoming.

Remember that those 4 hills are all related volcanic necks. Being made of hard rock, they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Posted on

Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower
Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

The Exposed Volcanic Necks in this image are all related in space and time. Once deeply buried volcanic conduits to the surface. Each of the 4 peaks stands eroded at the surface. These pipes carried magma to the surface as lava/ash in four volcanos popping off at the surface . The rock we see here froze solid in that neck and cooled. We know this was deep as the column of rock in the Devils Tower cooled very slowly allowing the columns of rock the National Monument is famous for. Being our nations first national Monument is the moniker that Devil’s Tower and surround area carry. Wyoming and all that

Being 40 miles away from the tow and the buttes somewhat closer, this becomes a terribly long shot to actually be able to resolve the columns on the tower. There is SOME columnar jointing in the Missouri Buttes. Emplaced closely in time and space does not say they were coterminous in their eruptions. . We don’t know their exact schedule.

Phenolitic Porphyry is the name of the rock. It cooled into big 6 foot in diameter crystals up the length of the tower. I used one of several possibilities all related to volcanic activity to describe the tower as volcanic necks. There are multiple configurations and possible variations in this discussion I won’t get into here but feel free to google devils tower origin to discover more.

Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, NE Campbell Country

Title: Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

Posted on

Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt
Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

I know, it’s out of season in Wyoming, not so much down south at the moment though. Be careful down there. As the cold air moves over us, the arctic blast does BIG storms in LA, MS, AL, GA….. Be careful out there and prayers for those effected by the storms.

In this complex summer image, I set the camera up at the mirror to reflect the sky slit 90 degrees left frame….Flash….. Can you find the Deering Seeder? This was a HUGE mesocyclone that hadn’t even reached us yet. We were just under it’s leading edge here. That shelf cloud is an indication that it’s about to get sporty. The 80 mph winds this brought with it did some damage. The big hail missed us though. That big white roof is our big barn which is roughly the size of a regulation foot ball field under that roof. It’s an old roping area under there.

This storm donated quite a few lightning photos. I usually work storms like this up on the ridges definitely in a car. The car doesn’t make you immune to the strikes but it helps. Your not going to get killed by ground current if your not touching metal is the plan. Not that the bolt couldn’t hit the camera. I’ve been pretty close to some strikes before and it will wake you up. Looking forward to working it with the new vehicle with no moon roof. I ordered it WITHOUT a sunroof (a several thousand dollar options that will probably leak). More metal overhead is a good thing I’m thinking lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderland (Wyotana)

Title: Shelf Cloud Lightning Bolt

Posted on

Lightning Highlights the Windmill

Lightning Highlights the Windmill
Lightning Highlights the Windmill

Lightning Highlights the Windmill

Setting up and sitting for night time exposures catching huge million amp plasma channels creates a lot of adrenaline (fun). There is enough amperage to melt sand in those bolts. You only do this from inside a “Faraday Cage” . Lock yourself in a metal drum, isolate yourself from the metal to become safe even if the drum is directly struck.

It has been my observation that anything you do any activity a LOT. Your going to get injured doing it, Having a metal vehicle surrounding you is a good thing while taking photos like this. Think about it. Your on a ridge line, high up in a metal truck watching bolts flash 360 around you. I’ve been very close to strikes before. I can’t say that I’ve ever been hit doing this. I watched a bolt hit a few hundred feet away driving up in Montana one day. Traveling I was driving along a rural road. Hard to miss the bolt strike the bare grassy field just off the road to my left.

• The odds of becoming a lightning victim in the U.S. in any one year is 1 in 700,000. The odds of being struck in your lifetime is 1 in 3,000. Just because your in a truck, doesn’t mean your safe. It does moderate the extra risk statistically. Please keep your hands away from metal contact. Lock your trays in the upright and locked position…… Even so… The lightning can also serious damage your vehicle’s electrical system (which would really suck).

When you order a new vehicle to do precisely this… You really don’t need a sunroof over your head. lolololol 😜👀⛈ They cost more and lighning can travel right through glass.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Lightning Highlights the Windmill

Posted on

Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes and Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

This is one of those RARE times when the colorcast from the twilight was so intensely orange, that the reflections on the snow was very noticeable. I’m a photorealist who preaches against “blue snow”. I maintain the practice of maintaining a blue snow free zone in my gallery, except when it was really blue.

So much of the blue snow you see in forum photos is bad color correction or improper setting for white balance in your camera. I’ve always argued that blue snow doesn’t exist in nature but for a few, very few mornings like this extreme one. This color is as I experienced it. I could easily drop out the bark blue in the snow and make it white but that isn’t how it was. Early morning colorcast twilight is the only times I have ever seen this phenomena. Even then, I’ve only seen this one other time 2 winters ago. That time the colorcast was WAY red. This one is a very pervasive colorcast covering every object in it’s glow.

I do sunrises and sunsets almost every day photographically. This twilight was a rare one indeed. This is a view looking to the south east from near the Montana/Wyoming border. This is very far northeastern Wyoming.

Remember that those 4 hills are all related volcanic necks. Being made of hard rock, they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

Posted on

Lightning and the Seed Drill

Lightning and the Seed Drill
Lightning and the Seed Drill

The Lightning and the Seed Drill timeline started looking much further left than the camera points for this image. The head lights of my Jeep Grand Cherokee are what is highlighing the 1930’s IH Deering Seed Drill (seeder). That Antique has been sitting here for a LONG time and has seem more weather, sunsets, sunrises than any of us left alive today. An old soldier survivor of wind, rain, hail, and worst of all, cattle rubbing against it. It has BIG views in all directions. (Change up seasonally eh? )

Up here on this high ridge (called rattlesnake ridge), you can see a 180 mile horizon to horizon. Going up on top of a ridge in a metal object (jeep) next to another metal object (seeded) seems logical if you want to take a photo of lightning. I also think that sticking metal lenses out windows might be a good idea 🤔⛈.

Of course a high ridge is a wonderful place to watch a lighting storm as long as you don’t mind being on the target list. Sitting in a car covered by metal and not touching metal is a good thing in a lighting storm. I run my cameras on a lightning trigger and don’t have to touch them unless I move them. The one thing I’m actually afraid of is the really really really loud crash when a bolt hits your car or just nearby. I’ve been VERY close to bolts before. It’s not my favorite part of that photographic game. I like automatic cameras in this case lolol. 📸

Photographic musings:

I find that the Sony alpha 7 cameras I use tend to record lightning with a slight purple tint. This is very common in lighting captures in my experience. This is a 10 second time exposure . . Other settings were ISO 200, f20 and it was quite dark under that cloud with only a faint sunslit. I used f20 so as not to overexpose the headlights on the seeder.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title:Lightning and the Seed Drill

Posted on

Crescent Moon Rising in Alpenglow

Crescent Moon Rising in Alpenglow
Crescent Moon Rising in Alpenglow

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.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Crescent Moon Rising in Alpenglow

Posted on

“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

"Belt of Venus" NE Wyoming
"Belt of Venus" NE Wyoming

Here I have posted a very well developed “Belt of Venus” . NE Wyoming version. Lots of Ice in the air…..Backshow from the sun that just went down over my shoulder.

This is the view from the Pass at RockyPoint Wyoming showing the 4 volcanic necks. The debris from them being eroded (sediments) are draping off them making an apron of debris to the relatively hard peaks. The Devil’s Tower (left) is the best known volcanic neck in this complex

. The other three peaks were emplace around the same time as the towers rocks were cooling in the deeply buried neck of an ancient volcano.

“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

The Missouri Buttes AKA the Three sisters are in fact 4 buttes. Hard to see all 4 unless your on the top of Devils Tower though or in a plane. Two of the buttes rise slightly lower topographically than the Tower, while the remaining two are actually higher. Devil’s Tower was formed from the same type of rock type as the Missouri Buttes. Rocks there are classified as “phonolite porphyry” by geologists.

There is some agreement among geologist (rare thing lol) that these volcanic necks were from the same intrusion of magma. That event created the hard magmatic origin rocks that obviously later resisted erosion better than the surrounding sediments. Thus they stick out of the surrounding landscape that washed away.

Erosional Remnants:

Geologists think magmatic injection, lead to these erosional remnants (mountains). All these peaks rocks were formed during closely related volcanic timelines it appears. Although some columnar jointing is evident in the Little Missouri Buttes, they lack the distinctive appearance and magnificent grandeur of Devils Tower which cooled over a longer period of time allow the giant columnar crystals of Dark Porphyry. These eroded exposed volcanic necks dominate the landscape with their presence here in the NorthEastern Corner of the state. This is almost entirely in Crook County but I’m standing in Campbell County Wyoming.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title “Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

Posted on

Thunderhead Lit Up Trailing Stars Behind

Thunderhead Lit Up Trailing Stars Behind
Thunderhead Lit Up Trailing Stars Behind

“Thunderhead Lit Up Trailing Stars” is a time lapse photo on a tripod set up under my deck. All the lighting you see is ambient inside our “compound” from various yard lights mulitiplied over 10 seconds…. The storm is a 500 microsecond lightbulb flash giving me lit clouds from within. As the storm travels, it’s leaving stars in it’s wake in the pure dark sky. Got em!

Photographers notes:

This is not a composite in fact the bright star is actually a planet… Jupiter. The flash was instantaneous but the stars needed the time exposure and the results fit like a glove📸. About 10 seconds at ISO 300 with f6 (ish) should get you here if you have a tripod, and a storm that leaves stars in it’s wake… Hint…. Longer than about 12 seconds gives you streaky stars…..

Have a great Sunday night all.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Posted on

Mesocyclone Veiling a Full Moon with a Bolt from the Storm

Mesocyclone Veiling a Full Moon with a Bolt from the Storm
Mesocyclone Veiling a Full Moon with a Bolt from the Storm

This Mesocycone was Veiling the full Moon enough to catch the stars visible to my naked eye but seldom to a camera pointing at the full moon. Most you see are fakes or composites. This 6 second time exposure would have been overexposed badly with a full moon that was unveiled. This is the real deal seeing stars with a full moon.

Straddling South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, this storm was 100 miles across. I photographed it in the deep backcountry for almost 2 hours with 6 different camera lens combinations from before sunset to well into Astronomic twilight under the full moon. Being backcountry means any light on the terrain is ambient from the flash and the moon/stars.

THe colors are way saturated which is what time exposures do. I actually really dampened down the purples in this image.

This ranks as one of my personal favorite images of the year. There are a few others….🤔

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

!– The text field –>