This is ART… Did I mention this is art? Sometimes I take a few moments to be something other than a photorealistic Landscape Photographer. It keeps Frank from Being a dull boy with all work and no play figuring into my world 😜📸 Well over a dozen faces in this easily…
Seeing faces in clouds or other natural scenes is termed: Pareidolia. Historically this tendency diagnosed one with psychotic symptoms/ “abnormal”. Now we are teaching computers to do it. It’s not just clouds of course. Any pattern the human mind creates out of literally random data is symptomatic. Of course the state of medical/psychological science has improved a tad from those early days. . Looking behind me to the eastern back show a bit after sunset on summers evening is a good habit.
Many photographers get tunnel vision and forget to glance around. The back shows are often better than the main sunset if your chasing light like I do. Taking many forms, these billowing clouds can be impressive. The shapes are random but usually fairly consistent in one way or another. I swear on a stack of geology books that I did Everything to this image in the digital darkroom lol. . It’s not a totally natural image.
However, If you look enough at clouds, you see some very odd things 🙂 I simply finished the faces of what I saw in this cloud system.
The hard part is being there with a camera (Rule 1 of Photography).
Layers of Landscape to the first big ridge stretch for 40 miles in the distance. The Alpenglow illuminated BigHorn Mountains are saturated in an orange color cast projecting off of the deeper snow cover of the slopes. There is still plenty of snow in the low and sheltered northern slopes and the deeper slopes of the 130 mile distant peaks. 1200 mm telephoto.
This Twilight Sky is what I call “fully involved”. Bear in mind that at the 130 mile distance, the 13K feet high BigHorns can be covered by your thumb at an arms length. This is a very small area of the sky way out there from where I’m standing. I can see 50 miles over my shoulder so I’ve got a 180 mile horizon to horizon sky to work. So I take a picture of a little portion of it lolol.
This of course is a time exposure as it were. I consider anything longer than 1/4 second a time exposure best done on a tripod or some support. You can take photos like this free handed but your ISO is going to have to be so high that you’ll get grain on your image. A minimum handheld speed with a long lens is about 1/100th. With a telephoto your going to have to compensate for the lack of light somehow as they are not a fast lens. Turning up camera sensitivity? This will unfortunately give you larger grain to your image and add noise to the color. It will however bring an image in. This came out “sharp as a tack”.
Right Turn “Clyde” series…. (Lot’s of detail in that dark )
This was less than easy to do. Handheld long lens rested on the Ford Raptor’s open door, (Clever Girl herself) with the 48 inch Rigid LED light bar lighting up the reflective sign. The trick of course is to get back far enough to get both objects in the infinite focal length. Then you still have to place enough light on the sign…. Now I handicapped myself by sticking with the truck. I could have walked back another 100 yards with a monopod and still have the same light on the sign.. I’m not always tolerant of windy/cold and this was a windy/cold night. Taken about an hour and 20 minutes AFTER sunset, the only real sources of light was the 98 percent April (Pink) Moon and my headlight. That is a dark night sky behind.
There were stars but even this crazy high dynamic range camera couldn’t sense/see them. The clouds right around the moon that were lit up, made it into the cameras data stream. Getting any detail around a moon of such wispy clouds scantily covering a moon is not something I’m able to accomplish some nights. Very very iffy that process. I’m thinking an average cell phone is not going to capture this.
This April 2020’s moon was every present for 4 photo-sessions in a row. I can’t remember a full moon interval where I’ve gotten to work it so much. The April supermoon, our orbiting partner was as close as it gets this year to the earth for this.
This Young buck is still growing his horns larger this early in the spring. Horn sheath growth in Pronghorns is a unique characteristic among ungulates in that they actually have horns. They shed the sheath yearly.
While Horns are hollow, composed of keratin… basically the same as our fingernails.. Antlers howeverare made of bone
Pronghorn have different headgear that most North American ungulates. . Each horn is composed of a slender, flattened blade of bone. That grows from the front of the skull forming the permanent core of the horn. It is retained. The pronghorn leaves only the sheath behind. I RARELY find them shed on my place. They usually shed after they migrate to the Thunderbasin National Grassland 30 miles south each winter. They disintegrate quickly I understand.
My black Ford F-150 Raptor is being well tolerated. The local wildlife doesn’t seem to see it a threat. My old Blue Jeep was noisy moving across the prairie. Not so much this new rig. I have spend some good photographic time aside some larger groups of Pronghorn already this spring where I was the one to move away. Leaving them to continue grazing. This is a good sign that these guys think my Black truck looks like a big noisy, smelly mechanical Angus Cow. Local groups will become used to me by the beginning of the summer. I already have this spring a few encounters that have given me great captures of these magnificent animals. They will make their way into my work flow. 📷👀
I usually don’t take too many photo’s of Pronghorn walking away. I was watching these young buck wander off and hit the machine gun button on my camera. From my perspective, they were swerving back and forth. It appeared a semi-drunken path as the cattle trail pulled them side to side. The way their color is, blending is part of their evolutionary camo plan. A wonderful color scheme as they really blend into this country. Thusly produced a seamless illusion of “Siamese Twins” I don’t get a chance at too many of these.
Graphic Artist note:
I could have EASILY removed the extra legs but I think they are fine so you can see what’s going on. I get this kind of alignment occasionally. More so from HEHIND lolol. I’ve even built images similar to this for fun. This one is legit and unmolested.
Boy are these Sony Alpha 7R4’s fast on the trigger with a 60 meg .jpg resultant each click. 📷👀 Machine gunning cameras that produce big files is costly to backup and store. I do fill up 32Gig cards with these things. Usually in about an hour and a half’s work on a normal day out in the backcountry. I always run into something interesting out there.
Long Lenses Crush Perspective tremendously. Far and near objects become “closer” in the frame through them. Long telephotos are tricky to use versus wide angle short lenses. They are very sensitive to motion.
Location: my backyard at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
When I get a heavily blue and gold veiled sun, I’m all about getting it behind and in focus with terrestrial objects. It’s always a good thing when this particular tree lines up with astronomic objects (sun moon). The Lone Tree on a Ridge is about 1/4 miles out from a parallel ridge in this capture. The sun is a little further behind.
Photographic Musings: The clouds were very thick and obscuring with the sun mostly filtered out behind the veil. I am as always, reactive to the light with only a bit of premonition to guide me to the next spot from here. Half the game of photography is knowing when you got the shot and it’s time to move on. Otherwise you spend too much time at the site and miss other opportunities. I move pretty rapidly from interesting situation/alignments of the sun or the moon by driving along parallel ridges. I work the “Shadow” line by driving it and “seeing” what develops as I move. The cool stuff to photograph as in “I know it when I see it”. There are times I see things that are virtually impossible to capture.
This veiled sun was ‘easy”. A fully lit sun behind this tree is a common occurrence but without neutral density glass filters in front of the camera, even these Sony Super Cameras would be tough. The tree limbs would be totally washed out. I never use glass filters or even do I use a pretty much standard UV haze filter. I find they get in the way of the image more than “fixing ” what they do. A UV filter does protect your lens glass from scratches though and is probably worth it for what you would do mostly. I point cameras at the sun a lot and glass infront of the lens has been an issue in the past for me. Just saying….
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Lone Tree Sky Show
Well they were watching me at the time watch the sunset….😜📸 . I’m thinking the deer were more into the iced grass along our back fence. I had to make some noise to get them to look up lolol. This was the first sunlight in 4 days for any of us. It had been foggy for most of that interval resulting in a highly frosted environment. This happened March 16th, 2020. (A day I will remember as I discuss below. ) There wasn’t much snow left. We enjoyed having had some 50-60 degree days the week prior. Then it got overcast, the clouds moved down over our ridge and didn’t leave for 96 hours. I find it is difficult to find color in an overcast frosty environment. No photography for that interval.
The sun slit seen here was long but not very wide. This was just about the first photo I took that evening. I think it went down hill from there. I drove out into the backcountry looking for a better angle on this. Drove a few miles back in, it was getting dark and I got too hot in my gear. Immediately as I was on a 30 degree down slope crossing a gully system to gain altitude and angle across that gully, I got motion sick. Turned on like a switch it did.
Now this might have been a reaction to a meal but I am sensitive to motion at times. I was 3 miles into the back country, got hard motion sick and it was getting dark. I only had to stop 5 times lolol. Finally made it home….Slept it off and was fine the next day.
For a 30 (ish) Horse Power Tractor, this 1939 International “M” Tractor had 270,000 made by 1954. It only weight 5400 pounds and has a 4.1 liter gasoline engine. This one runs if I put gas in the tank and hit the starter. It needs new rubber. This is out back near our corral system, in our yard but way off the beaten path. (We live in a 10 acre fenced in deer resistant compound ).
We keep a few big bales of hay around in case we actually have to feed our small herd of Corriente Cattle. They generally don’t need extra food but will happily take it lolol. The vistas from our homestead are BIG to the south west with 130 mile view when conditions permit. We have way more snow than the low lands we overlook. It’s a stark difference our front yard versus 300 feet lower topographically down by the rivers. No or little snow down there which is not a good thing. I consider the local snow cover as light this year. (March 3, 2020).
Mostly multigenerationally fixed / patched fences, old ranches have complex Corrals lolol. Those fences take a LOT of cow pressure particularly near the alleys. A 1500 pound bull pushing hard will be defined as “Cow Pressure”. . You might get 30 years of reliability, if a corral is made of treated wood posts. Corrals made of steel, it lasts a century or two. Oil Well pipe and sucker roads, cables, panels, wire panels, you name it are part of the fixes. Repurposed coal mine rubber belts (4 – 6 feet wide) for alleys. I have seen a host of other materials incorporated into many corrals. Free(ish) fencing is very popular. I’m seeing 4 different types of fences just in this photo. There are dozens of fencing generations in this grandfathered 80 year old corral system. Some originally built about the same time as this Antique Tractor.
I was driving along a two track trail with the bright lights of my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV. Big Bright LED lightbars are a fixture on all the vehicles I routinely take into the backcountry for photography. Not only do they help you see what you don’t want to run into, they show you what you do want to find lol.
So, after a long sunset photographic work session, I spied this Prickly Pear Cactus Boom down on the prairie as I was passing. There was still some residual color in the western sky and I was determined to get it. This flower just happened to have a green beetle within enjoying the relative safety of this environment. Can’t blame him really. Scented room with a view until I came along with my smelly noisy UTV I suppose. At any rate, I’m sure it all calmed down there as I pulled away.
Prickly pears belong to the Genus Opuntia which contains over 150 species across the globe. The deer in this country grow fat on cactus “figs” grown on the low paddle shaped cactus. These cactus have been used in Mexican cooking for hundreds of years. Take off the spines, and they cook like vegetables. I’ve eaten fresh prickly pear and I compare it to a cross between water melon and bubble gum.
This kind of Close Far perspective is a favorite way to deal with first light of morning. Fortunately this ridge had a 1/4 inch of Hoar Frost covering all the vegetation. I call these coated pine needles “Pine Noodles” as it just seems to fit. Add a fence for the far vanishing point due to the distance and we’re good to go 🤘
The earliest light as the sun is just rising has a decidedly yellow color cast on this particular morning. The Yellow light projected through the Alpenglow phenomena low on the horizon shows the color of light refracted by the ice suspended there. Transmitted to the local objects, pine needles and fences coated in ice make a very good projection/reflection screen. This yellow color cast is not that common on local vegetation. Usually it presents only perceptible on the atmospheric ice.
Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. The formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2 inches long.
So many Satire filled narratives apply to this image with so little time/space. I’m thinking several classical themes here. One of Don Quixote in the lead wanting to dual windmills mixed with Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The second theme is the Three Wise Deer” out of the east. Boy I sure could get off on a tangent with that one.🤔😜
As it turns out this little group of bucks are brothers from other mothers. The one on the left is a 2.5 year old, the middle a 3.5 year old and the leader a 4.5 year old. Small, Bigger, Biggest and all that. Doing compositions while deer are moving is a matter of anticipating where they are going to be and get lined up before they get there. These guys were definitely walking/moving along which tends to quicken the timeline and the “pressure” to get the shot. I did have the ability to move a little and I was at least 100 yards out. As a result of my position I had about 20 seconds of moving and shooting to get the composition.
Photographic musings: Automatic Crap… (there are still layers of software in a modern camera your using I point out that run all the time).
I don’t use autofocus at all. Nor do I use any automatic settings on my camera as I’ve found they get in the way more than they help. The Dreaded Manual Mode turned on, the auto functions turned off…. 2 times the battery life at least. Image stabilization while nice in theory, is something I seldom use. It is VERY battery power use intensive particularly with the really big lenses/apertures. It is my suggestion to turn off all that auto crap including that hidden adjustment. Automatic White Balance. (Google This).
I don’t see a lot of American Eagles up in this high/dry ridge line country. They tend to hang out around rivers where they are both predators and scavengers. The do overfly and eat road kill. (Good work if you can get it as a raptor). I do see them along the road side now and then eating a fresh road kill. Not many species but man hunts the American Eagle but they hunt a lot of species.
There is an urban legend that Benjamin Franklin lobbied Congress to make the Turkey our national symbol bird. There is of course no evidence of this occurring but his daughter did write a letter (1784) labeling the Bald Eagle as “a bird of bad moral character). The real story was the eagles link to history and how it came to be our national symbol.
Shortly after the signing of the Declaration of independance.Congress formed a small committee of three. Those characters Ben Franklin, John Adams with Thomas Jefferson were the committee. Given the job of designing an official seal would be their task. Those three failed to get a design to pass congress. Bunch of slackers those three probably eh? 😜
Another two committees tried to get a seal for the nation. They failed as the first one did in order. Finally the job/work from the three committees were handed to Charles Thomson. He was serving as the Secretary of the congress. The final result was an artistic attenuation to the best elements of the various submitted designs. By 1782 Congress adopted the design using the American Bald Eagle over other “entries” into this historic contest.
This is a capture initiated by the -2 degree evening, the icy air and the lighting. The later of which was JUST settling down over the ridge with less than a minute left in the day.
Topographically, I’m working just over the lip of that higher ridge. Opportunities like this after photographing that sun coming up over a ridge 1 mile out are important parts of the timeline. I move quickly to transition to working a closer ridge several hundred yards out as the sun climbs. A sunset for me is a period of moving from place to place to take advantage of the terrain. It is very important to know WHERE to and WHEN to move to the next shot. Extending your time working the “Golden Hour” is the result. You only have so much time to “Work the Light”.
I work “Parallel” ridges because I’m very mobile to look for interesting leading lines and angles into the light. Here I saw this long line of smaller pines covered in ice from freezing fog the night before. (the night I’m typing this the same weather is occurring and I’ll be up on the ridges for sure ). There was an 1/8th inch of ice on everything that was exposed to the wind. So a vibrant landscape with an interesting weather event… (a hero as every photo needs a hero). But working that shadow line is the game.
The glare from the sun is quite a hard thing to deal with. I am literally looking into the sun with this camera with a white ground reflecting light plus the ice. The trees are my cellulose filter in front of my lens. Regardless, I had to turn my camera to HIGH F-stop, LOW ISO and your shutter speed is used to balance the equation. If you don’t want a sun star, go f-11 mid range. You adjust either with a neutral density filter in front of your lens (I hate them), or higher shutter speeds. Many consumer cameras don’t have 1/8000th shutter like the higher end models do to compensate . So faster shutter speed to reduce light into the camera may not be as much of an option depending on your equipment. Be careful pointing your camera into the sun.
Some of the Post-sunrise evening drives to return home I take to get set up in beautiful locations I have photographed earlier. . This ColorCast evening was colorful icing on the surface of the ice and snow reflecting it’s qualities to my lens. This is a twilight sky after sunrise.
Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.
Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise. Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight.
In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. . Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.
Taken VERY early in Civil Twilight, this is a very deep focus close/far perspective. . I was watching this wonderful alpenglow/wispy cloud gradient already on a remote high ridge. I noticed the much wider view in the foreground camera than the actual background in the camera I was holding.
Getting around in the backcountry during twilight:
Up here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands if you want a big view, you have to gain altitude to do so. The ridge tops are 4000 feet in elevation. Everything else is lower in this area. The lower streams are 3600 feet. We are actually very low topographically for Wyoming (but I digress). How easy it is to gain altitude depends on where you are going of course but winter makes this much more relevant a discussion. Climbing up backcountry two track trails is usually hazardous at best lolol. This complicated with snow blowing around. Being able to read snow drifts is a good skill in this country.
Where most people get in snow trouble is when they get off the crest of the ridge. The snow is always less deep on the crest as it blows off to the edges. Up here Yucca and Sage Brush will trap snow. Taking a path through the vegetation isn’t the best of ideas. Best have some backup with you if you try.. I’ve got a shovel and a radio . Since I have the most snow capable vehicle on the ranch, I’d rather not stick my rig as getting something else to it would involve a skidsteer with chains and a bucket. Building roads is no fun lol.
Late summer of 2019 it was time to run “the herd” through a crowding pen and sort calves from mothers. Some vaccinations ensued. Lots of “hunting / gathering required to collect the cattle. Collecting a herd of calves and cows from the square mile pasture takes maneuverability. These are real cowboys horses and good workers all.
The weather that after noon was a bit sporty to say the least. The little cumulonimbus storm off in the distance was one of several that went through the area that evening. Just as the last cow was released, everyone retreated to our large barn for tailgate food while it was hailing outside. A good time was had by all except a few calves that got branded that day. This is a ranch after all. During the year the ranch has over 200 cow calf pairs grazing the various pastures. The big pastures are around a square mile here. Other ranches that are bigger have bigger pastures lol.
Rotating pasture ground is important to manage the grass. We do have dedicated crop areas but we are a dry land ranch with no irrigation. Just the massive (not) 14 inches average rain we get a year. Most of that being from snow fall accumulation. This year 2019 was phenomenally a wet/cool year. We had the lowest forest fire risk ever. I didn’t even fill up my fire truck all summer.
I find this is one of the few ways Pronghorn Does get their heads together. Seeing alignments now and then since I do a lot of photography of herds. I normally get two lined up pretty easily but 3 is a good capture.
The North American Pronghorn:
Pronghorn are the Fasted Land Animal in North America. Nothing else even comes close. They developed these skills/anatomy as a result of learning to avoid predation. It seems there used to be some pretty fast Lions, tigers and other cats living in these hills. Those predators were obviously prolific during the last Ice Ace and before here in the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. The most most recent continental Ice sheet (5 glaciations in the last 500,000 years) stopped it’s advance about 20 miles up into Montana from my perspective here on the Bliss DInosaur Ranch. There were LOTS of critters hanging out below the glaciers.
The Pleistocene Epoch is typically defined as the time period that began about 2.6 million years ago and lasted until about 11,700 years ago. Paleontologist recognize this age as a time of geologically rapid Glaciations followed by warmer periods in between. A vast and diverse “Mega-fauna” was present within those variable ecosystems. About 11,700 years ago, things started warming up for the 5th time in a half a million years. (Warm periods between the ice sheet advances). The earth’s various climates (the earth has NO climate, it has ALL climates) were “Changing” every 100,000 years or so. The Term “Cycle” is thrown about loosely these days. I use it here in that I’m glad it’s warm because living here with an ice sheet 20 miles to our north….Might have experienced some “Climate Change” back then. Sort of like this winter so far….
Antique wagons each have their own tale to tell. Especially in this shape. With over 50 plus years of cattle rubbing, the wear has taken it’s toll. They have to itch on something I suppose. Needless to say, the cattle pressure on this old soldier has taken it’s toll. Not to say the weather, the freezing and thawing, haven’t had their effect. The fact that it is still even half way together speaks volumes for the quality of construction.
There are a lot of miles on those old wheels. 15 miles to the nearest general store. An all day round trip with a team. This vehicle was the ultimate convertible. You pay MORE for a convertible now lolol. How did that get switched around?? I’ve never owned a real convertible lolol. Imagine 12 hours in the wind, the rain, a storm that comes out of a blue sky out in the open.
All the metal work on this wagon is in serviceable shape. Plus it’s about all there. It would take quite a craftsman with a cause to rebuild this to new. We actually have a very nice newly built buck wagon on the ranch, in the barn, under a tarp. It’s not moving anytime soon lol. It belongs to my son’s fiancee. We don’t however had a working team of horses at the moment for it. I don’t have a photo of it (yet) even though it’s been out there for years lolol.