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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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“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

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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.

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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.

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