The weather was calm with a just a slight acid tinge of forest fire smoke in the air. Conditions have improved ever so slightly with the passage of a front. The ridge 10 miles away (furthest) being partially obscured by it’s light filtering/scattering properties. The terrible smoke on the west coast is being blown east to west concentrating it over the major west coast cities. This weather system is sparing us the worst effects of the conflagration on the coast. Soon upper level air will bring smoke from Washington and Oregon that will blanket most of Montana. I will probably get some of that in this next week with more yellow suns and crimson clouds to come in the near future. (This posts about 10 days out from the photos capture. ).
The layers of ridges in this country make for substantial “landscape ladders” for Close / far perspectives. The first ridge is a mile away from me. The next ridge is 5 miles. The cloud bank 20 and the sun…93,000,000. By Definition this is a close/far perspective. The cattle in the foreground hidden until you read this lolol.
This is a typical backcountry Wyotana morning these days. Orange lighting, deep smoke filled valleys. As I type this the air quality is dang good but there is smoke HIGH in the atmosphere over us. The sun this morning was described to my by a friend as “it looks broken”. Here the sun looks to be sliding down hill on the cloud to me. The layers of this landscape creating this visual ladder that I’m always looking for in my work.
So I’m out “enjoying” the smoke in the air and I see this. Click. It was thick and a knife might cut it. But only if it were a big knife. lol
The shadows and the light are always interesting back in the pines. We have about 3 hundred acres of Jack Pines and Cedars on ranch. Most of the rest of this place is either gully, ridge top or grassy flats. All of it is good for cattle grazing at various times of the year . I’m not sure this air is good for man nor beast. I had asthma as a child but this hasn’t given me much trouble “yet”. I’ve fought quite a few forest fires and have been in much thicker. I might start wearing a mask up here just for this.
On a good note, the recent freeze (last week) has let the fighters catch up locally. The whole nation is getting seriously smoked with 90 major fires in 13 states. An area the size of Connecticut has burned in total I understand. That’s 5,500 square miles or there about… Wow. To put that in perspective: Campbell County Wyoming where I live spans 4800 square miles and this is just one county in Wyoming. That is a very large area to burn I point out.
God Bless to all those displaced by these fires. Be safe all and get ready to move fast if called to.
During the Fall Equinox (on Sept 22nd during 2020) Smoke Pall over the skies from the fires to the west.
Around the Equinox, the east / west trending fences have a tendency to fall into order with the universe. For all intents and purposes, this fence line is directly on the Montana / Wyoming border . Montana on the left and Wyoming on the right. Looking East at Sunrise. Ive done many fence perspectives straight on with the fencline. Getting above it so far was an act of crushing perspective with a long lens from a far away hill. Looking over this west slope of a local divide between upper drainage courses.
Many of my photo’s have parts of both states in them. Either a Wyoming ground with Montana Sky or visa-versa. Here the sun looks over all that ground. It is having a great deal of trouble getting it’s light to the ground. The Pall of Smoke this particular day (this has set in for a few months I’m thinking ) was different than each day before it. The strange “filtered light” feeling reminds me of watching a total solar eclipse.
You might note the “Hump Gate” mid-fence. It’s a Cattle gate I designed to put on the ground without having to dig a hole under it. Cattle don’t cross it but ATV’s zip right over it. Idle minds are problematic in my world lol.
Deep in the backcountry sits this deep gully system. It is a magical place with artesian springs, little evidence of humans dinosaur fossils literally visible on a few rock outcrops about. Well there are a few pits around. Removed most of those fossils I’m aware of. These small pits will be poor evidence I was here but in a mere 20 years. Those will fill small holes will, collapse/fill, naturalize as it were.
80 years ago in the early 1930’s, there was a log cabin on a small homestead not 500 yards from this location. The ranch was visited several times by one of the now adult (elderly woman). That 80+ years ago grew up here. Situated there, a wonderful dinosaur fossil site. Just below their old homestead it was. Less than 200 feet away,
I can’t believe the kids didn’t notice teeth, claws and bones. They are coming out in various spots (Microsites) sand down in the “wash”/gully. Being adjacent to the house make me think that they just didn’t randomly notice. Hard to believe that 3 kids didn’t play down in that gully in the sand. Now If I had seen a tooth laying in the sand as a kid….Who knows what I’d been doing now. I found a fossil sea shell on a gravel pile in Illinois at age 5. I became a geologist as a result of that experience. “Oh look mommy what I found”…. I have found WONDERFUL big teeth down there on the surface. 👀. Looking is fine, it is better to see.
Rife with stories now lost to history is this backcountry. The woman mentioned above brought her extended family up 2 times over 10 years. . I led her to the old remnants of the cabin safely as it’s about 3 miles of two track roads to get there. The metal/glass “dump” over the gully bank edge remains in testament to their existence. The great grand kids got to rummage around and pick up parts of their family history. Old glass bottles, car parts from the 20’s along with general debris that were just too broken to fix remain. Old broken stove parts and even a partially standing sod roofed root cellar/storm shelter. Each part tells a story of acquisition, use and finally deposition of the item. Lives past put into perspective.
Down in the gullies where everything eventually travels to the sea.
Close Far Perspectives are something I haven’t worked recently. The smoke plumes from western fires clogging up my horizons to anything but the sun. I get only a few terminator crossings a month any to photograph the rising lunar disk coterminous with the sun still being up (even a little like this). The dark blue you see here is seconds away from turning black in the camera. The is the edge of the envelope for what this technology can do. The silhouette would soon be fading into the black sky in minutes.
Wonderful smokey color that night though we weren’t particularly under Pall at that moment. Particulates in the higher air is likely to blame for this hue. Almost salmon but with just a tinge of red. Hard to find such things in archives of my travels.
Heads Up!… The Moon while on schedule for once a month, but October 2020 will have two. The first on October 1st, and the second on October 31st. That rarity is what coined the phrase “once in a blue moon” back in 1821, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. The “standardized” explanation of the blue moon wasn’t defined “officially” August 1937 or so the story goes… I will work both moons in October assuming the weather window to their light opens for me to capture in my photon capture boxes. Rule number 112 of photography is: no window, no images… That one is fixed in the rules of the universe I’m afraid lolol.
Finding this landscape was a long ride. Getting up these ridges can be a chore, other places you can drive right up. It’s all about the perspective of the height of the hill. The 40+ miles wide Little Powder River valley is off in the distance. The Wyoming / Montana border is between myself and the sun at the moment. Both states being in the photo. The Wyotana area has it’s own character with a mixing of the two state cultures. No difference across the line.
The land is big and unpopulated here. An average of a little over 1 person a square mile I believe is about right. I seldom see lights other than car lights across a valley this wide. Pole lights are few and far in between. I thought the reflective lakes were a nice touch of mother nature to throw into this. Those are both spring fed artesian lakes. My ranch mostly covers the ridge right of the right lake. This location is about 300 feet higher than my ranch’s average altitude. I have a hill that is 50 feet lower than this spot but the view is entirely different as you might suspect lol.
I thought I’d end the day with an end of the day image. This was just about the last image I took that timeline. That was the end of a 3 hour photo session on the backroads of Wyotana.
Dry lightning…..Taken right off my front porch this time of year is not what I’d like to see. It’s a little dry for this crap. I will set up a camera with a lightning trigger under the metal covered porch roof at just the sound of thunder. In a heart beat. I like to see some rain around those bolts though durn it…. .
Historically this spot on the front porch has been a water safe place for the fairly expensive camera rig not to get a shower. Fortunately I didn’t have one set up during the serious hail storm we had a few weeks back. Big things 3 inch hail stones crashed through the skylight of that porch the other day my cameras are usually under. Didn’t hurt the tripods set up there though. Lucky… Any of this kind of activity has some risk either personal or financial attached. I’m just glad I don’t have to photograph charging African Elephants with only a camera and a jeep. Now a lightning bolt will mess up your day just like an elephant only a lot faster.
I have ringed my house with an effective grounding rod system. It is better grounding than we are. (Ham Radio) Wireless computer connections, wireless phones make most communication safe during lightning. Don’t use the wired ones though. We have had lightning strike our back yard trees several times killing a few along the way. It’s not good to be outside in this country when you live around the trees. The ground tends to be wet which tends to enable ground currents to travel. Those electrons will ruin your day too. You have to just love lightning 😔 It does have the qualities one of which is being photogenic. 😀 📷
This is a Game Trail Camera capture from one of my favorite locations. Several game trails all lead to this choke point. Everybody has to climb the hill to get out of the wash / deep gully system here. The trail is well marked and well beaten for a backcountry path.
A young Whitetail deer Buck stopped to investigate a morsel just below him when he triggered the camera. He could have stepped about another two feet higher up on the slope though lol. His coat is shedding seriously with the suble lighter tan thick winter coat falling away. The leaves the more reddish tan undercoat. White tail have NO black on their tail. This is the easiest way to tell the from Mule Deer. They are entirely different animals. I know the difference well and occasionally mis-identify a species.
The knobs he is sprouting on his forehead will develop into full fledged antlers within the summer. The skin coating is termed “Velvet”. This supplies the growing bone of the antler a rich supply of blood to nourish such rapid growth. This was taken in Early May. I often go months without revisiting camera remote to anywhere lol. I occasionally find one I forgot about too but fortunately I usually think the same way twice about location. After all the only real control you have over your game trail automatic camera is WHERE you put it.
With Up hill Perspectives pointing into the sun out there, I’m never lacking a subject in this area lol. Lots of snags (fallen trees) around the highland backcountry ranch land I work are about. They provide cover for smaller creatures as rabbits, mice etc. Some are big enough to provide rain cover under them.
All sizes and shapes, ages and orientations of snags are there for me to play with in the backcountry. Standing as this, or fallen on the remote hillsides of the borderlands still keeping watch over their domain.
Photographic Musings: Only 3 settings to adjust in Manual Mode… F-stop, ISO and Shutter speed. Here is F-stop’s ball game. Close / Far work is good if you can get it 👀😜
Remember that depth of focus means the ability to have the close object in focus AND have the background in focus. The Manual Mode setting you use to be able to do this is F-Stop (aperture size). Large F-stop numbers are a small pin hole in your lens and gives you DEEEEEEP fields of focus. Being a double edged sword, F-stop will simultaneously shut off light as you turn up the numbers setting higher. A higher F-stop number = A smaller hole in your lens gives you good focus but steals light. A larger hole in your lens lets in a lot of light but you have no depth of focus. F-stop is the hard one to understand. Now all you have to do is figure out how to adjust the f-stop in Manual mode in your individual camera. It’s usually a thumb adjustment high on the back.
Taken about 12 days ago from this post, narrative written 8 days ago.. Such is my work flow these days. Present future and past reflections a this remote wetlands echo back to us in time and space. A Cottonwood Tree covered dam built many decades ago. A spring fed pond is home to many a gorgeous vista. It will have many more. Each sunset/sunrise is a new pallet of color for me to explore.
I have so many choices of where to pursue the limited time I have to chase the light. Because the wind was dead calm at the homestead. The flags were slag. I thought that a trip a few miles into the backcountry to get to this place would worth the investment of time and gas. .
“Backcountry” …. I’ve defined the term before and for all the time. OK, Here’s how it goes…
This little “Heaven on Earth” is 2 miles of bumpy two track dirt/grass road from the nearest county road. That county road is crushed red scoria (“Clinker”) gravel. Generally local gravel travel over well maintained roads is a dusty pleasure. I point out that these roads are fodder for “Clever Girl”. She eats them up. 🤔👀
So… upon gaining the county gravel, it is 14 miles of curvey / hilly 1.5 lane road to the closest asphalt paved two lane highway. . It is 70 miles to the nearest 4 way 3 color traffic light but there is a 4 way red light 50 miles away lolol. Back far away from population…. = Backcountry or at least that is my definition. My nearest neighbor is about 4 miles away. 2 people per square mile density in this area while there are several hundred cows in the same area. Cattle Country with Dinosaur Bones. …. There certainly are more remote areas of North America but not a lot of difference from those to the lifestyle of living in the “backcountry”.
This spot is about 200 yards from the Montana/Wyoming Border and it has a bit of both states in the image as do most of my photos.
An old fallen soldier of the high ridges here in Wyotana bares the effects of the harsh local climate. Wood exposed to the weather will last many decades in this low precipitation climate. Rot is slowed due to our area receiving only 14 inches of precipitation average per year including snow melt. The twisted pines we grow up high are shaped by the wind. (Backcountry Furniture is what you sit on while exploring miles of these ridges to rest.)
A landslide killed this tree. Thus displacing the whole slope it was on. Roots separated from their tips by the movement of the earth and the rotational falling of the tree. Wind/Weather exposed the root ball . The washing away of the sediment originally encasing it probably took decades. The steep and treacherous hillside it is on discourages cattle from rubbing against the tree scratching themselves . All the while the pressure from cattle destroys fragile structures. There are several excellent “prairie drift wood” Snags on this hillside.
Close / Far Perspectives are always a challenge for me to see the possibilities until I get there. Sometimes I can see a photographic opportunity from across the valley. For this genera of photography I have to put myself into the point of view of a mouse. Balancing the composition, and knowing your equipments minimum focal length. I’m utilizing a WIDE 10mm full frame lens for this which is necessary to the perspective. I note just a bit of lens distortion in the corners from the german optics….
Spring time thunderstorms moving through the area are much appreciated in giving us a little more moisture for the apparently soon to be dry summer so typical of Wyotana. Our annual precipitation amounts are BARELY above desert at 14 inches per year. Not this day though 😀
This happened May 13th late in the afternoon as a series of smaller storms moved through the area. This thunder storm went on into South Dakota and grew as it went but wasn’t particularly violent. It was however strong enough to dump enough hail to cover the ground off in the distance under the “rainbow”. I didn’t think there is supposed to be a bucket o hail at the end of the rainbow but something with a bit more glitter. “Clever Girl” got slushed on but fortunately the hail was a bit further east. This capture looking almost straight east along the Montana / Wyoming border. I’ve been known to move my position to avoid hail a time or two. It’s usually not a huge area that get’s hailed on but reading the storm isn’t necessarily straight forward as I’m not “Bill Paxton” in the 1996 movie Tornado.
The Rainbow is right at 5 miles away from my viewpoint. The first tree on the right is at least 1/2 mile out. Telephotos CRUSH perspective jumping over lots of ground before you get to the “foreground” of the frame lol.
Siamese Fighting Fish in the Clouds for you Pareidolia “sufferers”. You know who you are lol?. The colorful flowing finned fish living in little pint sized fish bowls as most of us have had one time or the other. Most of you don’t know my wife and I owned the only pet shop in a good sized college town for 6 years… I’ve had fish since I was 12 years old non stop. I still run an aquaponic greenhouse with several hundred pounds of live Tilapia with 128 square feet of vegetables growing off of it lol. In other words, I have fish branded into my brain lol. I also detect several uses in mirroring this image around the 1/2 face in the lower clouds.
Sunsets in the backcountry fall into so many varieties I have to develop a way to catalogue them. The high white clouds are in unfiltered sunlight passing through very little atmosphere. The lower clouds are bathed in light that has traveled many miles through surface air. That filled with particulates and moisture. Only the longest red wavelengths at the base make it through the longest path through the thickest air. This is a pure red, yellow green, blue, darker blue twilight gradient. The sun is still up in this capture. The sun is highly obscured . It might as well be twilight lol.
That HUGE butte (called “W” butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark. Seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. The fore ground is in Wyoming. That mile wide Butte (in Montana) is at least 15 miles BEHIND that 400 foot tall old growth treed ridge. That ridge is 15 miles from where I’m standing for this capture. You can see the communications towers that are up there. They are 1 foot wide over the 150000 feet to those towers. I love how 1200 mm telephotos CRUSH perspective. Taken golden hour as the sun was setting shortly over my shoulder. Long Shadows and Long lenses… be still my heart…❤️
So about 30 miles distant from my camera stands the epicenter of what was at one time one of the largest ranches in the Country. That ranch named the “W” Butte Ranch, was said you couldn’t see the end of the ranch from the top of that butte. I suspect that is not true. My ground was never part of that ranch to my knowledge. I’ve only seen/have deeds back to 1906 though. I’m not sure before that, pretty sure gov’t had it.
That butte is capped by the Fox Hill Sandstone. That formation was derived from the Beach Sand the Dinosaurs were sunning themselves on. I expect to find those little umbrellas in frosty mixed drinks as fossils there. I see a host of sun chairs and umbrellas on that beach. Ocean sediments are on the surface east of there. Terrestrial sediments to the west of that butte. All Cretaceous in age. All three environments (sea, beach, and land) occured coterminously. Those are just lateral environments as we have today. They did migrate with time and have a complex relationship underground based on the gradual movement of the land based (terrestrial sediments) laterally. The google word for this is “Faces Geology”. It’s a complex concept. Have fun with that.
My new F150 Raptor has 1200 miles on it. I spent 300 miles of that back and forth traveling to Gillette from my homestead on the Wyoming / Montana border 2 times. Most of the rest of that mileage occurred on two track roads into this backcountry. Each time I leave my main gate to do photography, I usually cover 10 to 20 miles of driving down roads as you see leading off to the distance. Locally called “Two Track” roads. There are probably well in excess million miles of them in the general three or 4 state area. I have experienced them on several thousand square miles of backcountry in this region over the last 2 decades. There are many left for me to travel even within a few miles from my place I’m aware of two tracks I’ve never taken. This is VERY big country.
Two tracks are unpaved, often unimproved, eroded both across/ parallel to the road. They are certainly unpredictable and an adventure if you’ve never been there before. New angles are a good thing I find.
You are looking across the MT/WY border at the moment. All the trees in this image are in Wyoming where I’m standing. (about 400 yards east of my homestead). The “Mud Hills” in the distance are 10 miles out into Montana. I call this area Wyotana. 10 miles north and 10 miles south, separated by the ridge Bliss Dinosaur Ranch occupies. So I get views in all directions from this high point. A land of many uses for the landscape photographer 😜📷
Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ comes Watchin’ the ships roll in Then I watch ’em roll away againI’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay Watchin’ the tide, roll away I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay Wastin’ time
Looks like nothin’s gonna change Everything seems to stay the same I can’t do what ten people tell me to do So I guess I’ll remain the sameI’m sittin’ here restin’ my bones And this loneliness won’t leave me alone This two thousand miles I roamed Just to make this dock my home Now I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
This capture is at the entrance to our dock on a small pond on ranch. IT’s a floating dock so the widely variable lake level is always a few inches below the top of the dock. I love my floating dock on this pond. If Im’ not hanging out there with cameras, the ducks often sit on it, leaving gifts for me to step in and collect eggs on occasionally. It was a little frosty this morning with the leaves in the foreground bearing evidence of the chill overnight.
The Herringbone skies were inviting to the photographer in me. The close / far perspective in the frame speaks volumes with the safety rope, the posts, the leaf litter, are all telling a story. Each story adds to the other to make up the book of this moment in space and time.
The End of Brown Season is upon us. From now on there will be more green in my Landscapes (spring 2020).
That HUGE mile wide butte (called “W” Butte) is a southeastern Montana Landmark seen here from across the Montana/Wyoming border. I’m standing in Wyoming. Looking north across the border. About 30 miles distant from my camera stands the epicenter of what was at one time one of the largest ranches in the Country. Called the “W” Butte Ranch, it was big. I’ve heard you couldn’t see the edge of the ranch from that high point. I suspect that is not true. My ground was never part of that ranch to my knowledge. I’ve only seen/have deeds back to 1906 though. I’m not sure before that, pretty sure gov’t had it. Custer certainly saw that Butte on his way through here. He sure didn’t see it on his way back from the “Little BigHorn” though… A well known landmark regionally, “W” butte stands out to the traveler.
This image was captured during evening “Golden Hour” yellow light. The landscape was very spot lit that night with a high contrast dark cloud cover surrounding us. Just a small window to the sun illuminated this back show for my photon traps to catch.
That is old growth forest along that ridge with many of those trees being 50 feet or taller. There is around 500 feet difference in the elevation from the top of “W” butte and the drainage system below.
A busy time lapse photo from a good camera on a steady tripod set up under the awning of my homesteads deck. The lighting you see is ambient inside our “compound” from various yard lights accumulated over 10 seconds…. The storm provided a 500 microsecond extreme flash giving me internally illuminated clouds. As the storm travels, it’s leaving stars in it’s wake in the pure dark sky. Got em!
Basically combining Time Lapse and Flash Photography .
This is not a composite in fact the bright star is actually a planet… Jupiter. The flash of the lightningwas instantaneous but the stars needed the 10 second time exposure. The results fit like a glove 📸. About 10 seconds at ISO 300 with f6 (ish) should get you close if you have a tripod, and a storm that leaves stars in it’s wake… Pouring rain (see dark areas)..
I wonder how long I can expose stars without streaking? 🤔🤔👀📷
500 divided by the Focal Length of your Lens = The Longest Exposure in seconds) before Stars “start to trail”.
For example; let’s say you’re taking a shot with a 24mm lens on a full frame camera. 500 / 24 = 21 seconds, which you can round to 20 seconds. Use the rule, it works. Hope this helps you avoid streaks unless you WANT them lolol. I think longer the better for that to taste…😜
The mist over the water in this remote backcountry wetland was wafting slowly with the below freezing breeze above. This mid-spring Wyotana wetland capture was taken right as the sun cracked over the far ridge to the east shadowing this ground about 15 minutes longer than sunrise. Sunrise time depends on if the horizon is above you topographically or not lolol.
A snowy/frosty/blowy storm came through after a week of thawing weather melted most ice on local ponds. Rime Snow coated most exposed objects but the mist from the water definitely hoar frosted the far trees totally. Wind blowing that mist that refroze on the trees in the distance. I probably should have taken a walk over to those trees with a few good cameras but the aforementioned breeze with below freezing weather dissuaded me. Wind Chill cutting through the cracks in my cold armor is always a consideration in cold weather.
I see much wildlife in and around these lakes but they were no where to be seen this frosty morning. I suspect they were bedded down somewhere close by staying out of the cold breeze. Sheltered (lower) areas like this are an oasis from the blowing and drifting usually. The trees and topography “helping” with the natural wind break. A source of open water in places due to the spring fed nature of the lakes, many local animals winter over here.
Spring in Wyotana is a fleeting season. I think it was on a thursday last year. Winter usually lasts until May 15, then it’s green season. Green season is variable depending on the rains of course but Spring…. it’s usually about a day long. 🤔😜📷
Location: Near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Catching any wild animal groups bedded on an early winter morning is a worthy attempt. Usually someone stands up and ruins the thought. I moved on after a few clicks and no one bothered to get out of their “warm” spot.
So can you see all 5 deer? I didn’t see them at all and I randomly stopped at a location. Looked down hill and there they were. I wasn’t being particularly stealthy at the time crunching snow with a big Black Ford Raptor. It might have stood out against the snow. Hard to know what these guys were thinking. I could have stayed there for 20 minutes. Well, I was in a warm truck and they were not so I probably could have out waited them lol.
Actually Staying for more than a few shots might have made them get up. It’s not a good policy to push deer out of a comfortable lounge chair. If someone did that to me, I’d be REALLY iffy about letting them get within camera range of me. I’m thinking they felt pretty good about their camo. I do have one good eye at least. They were invisible to me while I was moving. The minute I stopped, they stuck out like a sore thumb. Nice change really… usually I see something and HAVE to stop quickly with things rolling around the vehicle. Here I stopped oblivious to them lolol.
The Three Sisters were one of the landmarks well known to those on the pioneer migrations. They could be “seen for a hundred miles” from afar. While navigating the open prairie over two track trails rutted from the wagon in front of you. Out of the morning mist, something you have just read about appears in front of you. Three Sisters were back lit up by alpenglow and the rising sun far off screen left. Also Known as the Missouri Buttes. They were an important landmark to the old wagon trains and settlers out in this country. It took a while to get from Saint Louis to this spot.
This taken a few weeks from now back in 2019 and just finished. Just at sunrise far to my left.
The Curved trail of red crushed “clinker” rock leads to an abandoned homestead in the middle of a BIG grassy area stretching 30 miles to the Sisters. The old homestead at at this location burned down many years ago. Like so many other places it was absorbed into a larger ranch. Our ranch has at least 4 old homesteads within a few miles of us. All abandoned from when this remote country didn’t have electricity or phone. Those conveniences didn’t come in to the many areas around here until the ranchers put up the poles and ran the wires back in the 50’s and 60’s.
You all have a great day and be safe in your abode…
Location: The Pass to Rockypoint on Trail Creek Road. Campbell County Wyoming.
WOW, I see a lot of lit up skies. This was a good one…A real color scheme as I experienced the scene. My photographic technique is to properly expose the highlights and worry about the shadow details later. I wasn’t so concerned with the landscape on this capture. The skies gradient from yellow to red is amazing to experience live thusly stealing my total attention.
I never know for sure how a twilight show is going to turn out. Overcast skies tend to be the best shows but there has to be a window from the sun to the under deck of the cloud layers. No window due to clouds blocking light equals no color. The reds and oranges you see here are the result of only those long wavelengths making it through the hundreds of miles of atmosphere. Smoke or moisture in the air can increase the effect. I’ve seen these skies so red that the color cast from the sky makes the snow purple. I have several photographic timelines of even more intense skies. This one ranks right up there with the some of the best full coverage skies.
“Sneaky Pete” the Windmill and his big Brother “Re Pete” are both living here on ranch. Of course they are hard core publicity seekers often managing to zip into my frames. In full disclosure I have no control over their actions. The only place I can get away from them is in the timber where they can’t follow 😜😜😜📷. (This is a years long narrative if your new to my world) Satire and all that.
The joy of my work is that I get to see scenes like this. There of course is some discipline involved being up on those high ridges I frequent chasing light. Mostly it involves just kicking my legs over the side of the bed and getting up. I rise up pretty early in the summer with very short nights coming my way. Working the light often involves short nights. I might go third shift this summer and stay up from sundown to sun up, sleep during the day. It’s possible this is a better schedule for me as I’ve done it the old way for years lol.
The Close / Far Perspective in Low light is a function of how low the light is (chuckle). On the one or two mornings a month when the sun is rising coterminously with the moon setting, I hope to get a window to the moon. When I saw this cloud band cut across the Lunar Disk I figured that was the end of the show. Fortunately that was an incorrect conclusion.
I photographed this moon until it sank into the notch on the ranch on the right. Having prepositioned myself to position it setting in that notch. I find I am easier to move that either the ridge or the moon so you have to be accomodating to the Physics of the moment… 😜. This was a 250mm lens. I can bring to bear 1200 mm on that horizon for an up close and personal look. Posted in another place of course. Knowing where the moon is going to set is a simple matter of exploring a search of “Moon Compass” in Google. At least one of those sites will tell you where and when it will set. Then all you have to do is decide where to be when it sets. Being able to set and read a sighting compass to correct for Magnetic Declination changes will help in this endeavor. I use my personal 40 year old Brunton™ Geologists compass for such things. 🤔👀📷
The Pre-sunrise windy morning was chilly with the breeze cutting through the kinks in my cold armor. My first instinct was to work the ridges but I went to the top first instead of working up. I usually don’t take the high photo early in the photoshoot. This whole timeline has marvelous pastels. A plus was the moon was almost pink too shining though the pink alpenglow. Blue clouds thicker but parting to let the moon peek through.
A Supermoon is one when the moon is at perigee (closest to the earth on it’s elliptical orbit). The moon looks particularly large because it is lol. An Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Grass, Sprouting Grass Moon and otherwise known as the Pink moon historically. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, April’s full moon often corresponded with the early springtime blooms of Phlox subulata, a pink wildflower native to eastern North America. The wildflower is commonly called creeping phlox or moss phlox – and also goes by the name “moss pink.”
Syzyge (SiZ-i jee) … what a wonderful scrabble word. It’s a nifty occurrence though. Conjunctions of 3 celestial objects (sun, earth moon) is an alignment in a straight line). A solar or lunar eclipse when all three are aligned is Syzyge Perigee syzgy… the moon is at perigee AND there is syzygy happening, aligning with the Earth and Sun, It’s termed perigee syzygy, AKA Supermoon.
Now you know as much as I do about the Pink Moon this year. All my images are posted about a week after they are taken so this posts the 14th, taken the morning of the 7th. It’s as fast as I can get to new images posted these days as I write these narratives right at a week ahead of their posting. (currently).
Actually this is indeed a 98.5 Percent Full April “Pink” Moon but the images title is a classic reference to a Movie Line. If you know from where, you could be my friend lol.
This is a very long 1200 mm telephoto shot with the sun being mostly up behind me with a brief over lap. Having the two celestial bodies at the horizon with daylight and a full moon is a one or two times a month opportunity IF the weather cooperates. Of course I have the moon lowering in the sky from about an hour before this. This particular one the last shot of the timeline consisting of several hundred images.
I am standing on my ground which is the same elevation as the saddle between the two far peak. That range of mountains is called the “Red Hills” and is 40 (forty) miles distant from my camera. The Intervening Little Powder River Valley 500 feet lower than the far ridge removed all that ground between here and there. A sand grain at a time the 20 foot wide “Little Powder” River carried all that sediment down to the Gulf of Mexico, through several tributaries. Some of it is still in the river banks along the way. All things eventually work to the sea.
This, looking westward barely diagonally across the Wyoming to Montana border. The moon setting at 279 degrees. I prepositioned myself just so it would set between the peaks. Fore knowledge of how things work makes your photo session “predictable”. It helps you choose to use the map in your head. Google: ‘Moon Compass’, and work the choices.
When I try to read the early morning as to whether or not to go out to chase the light, I get about 70 percent good choices. This was a good morning, nailed it!…. Once I decide to go out 40 minutes or so before sunrise, I have to decide where to go. I usually try to follow the light so I chose to take a road trip. There are few places up high that are accessible in the muddy spring (sometimes more accessible than others). Driving across hills here will get you into some Bentonite and stick you easily miles from anywhere. I stick to the road when it’s wet in the high country.
This Alpenglow show that morning was a sight to behold for me. I don’t see many displays this intense. Ice as a projector screen becomes efficient with so much of it in the atmosphere. The rare purple colorcast in the snow testifies to the reflected lights intensity. I don’t post much colorcast snow if it didn’t actually exist at the time. I mostly produce images in a “Blue Snow Free Zone”. This is certainly an unusual light environment in cold, clean Wyoming air.
If you haven’t already, look up the term Alpenglow as it is a fixture up here in the Winter. In season, almost every visible sun/horizon crossing up here has some Alpenglow in the show. I’ve even seen it during the summer as well but for some reason, there seems to be less ice in the air during the summer.🤔😜 When there is ice, it usually falls as hail lolol.
I travel about 10 miles to get to this high overlook. It is about as High up as I can get without tremendous effort hauling gear up cliffs. I’ll leave that for younger men. I do scrambling over loose rock as well as anyone but Climbing one of those is a tad out of my league.
This sky was Early Civil Twilight about 27 minutes before sunrise. Late spring snow cover. Everything was frosty.
Well you know those distant Mountains as Devils Tower (left) and the three Missouri Buttes (right). 4 ancient volcanos throats exposed by erosion remain elevated over the surrounding debris plains. The volcanos fed by these conduits didn’t erupt all at the same time precisely but were in the same general geologic time frame of a few million years. They are certainly all related and in the same volcanic “field”. Devils tower is 35 miles out from this spot…
Eruptions supplied by these pipes which occurred far above on ground that is no longer up there. Erosion removed a LOT of material that used to be above the Tower and the buttes. Deeply buried these rocks were originally. The harder rock making up the Eventually the pressure in the original volcanic system dropped to the point where it was not pushing magma up the pipes. Insulated by the surrounding rock, the magma froze slowly in place. Because of that insulation and the slow cooling, the rock (Phonolitic Porphyry) was able to “crystallize” and freeze into columns. Known for it’s columns, the Devil’s Tower has it’s status as our nations first national monument. The Missouri buttes only have SOME columns. Not as many or as well formed.
Location: Near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
I had just left my drive way to photographically “chase” the light for this Golden Hour at sundown here on the ranch. Before I leave, I set my longest lens camera for the lighting at the time with the anticipation of catching some animal running/jumping/flying or otherwise trying to blur my otherwise in focus landscape image. Nice puffy clouds for Spring in Wyotana..
I work everything manual including focus on my cameras. So I physically have to twist the lens to get a bird flying at least 50 mph like this in focus.. So I have to stop my truck, bring the camera to bear, it only takes a few seconds….. Moving bird…..close to me, the landscape blurred as I was tracking this Raptor with a 28 inch long 1200 mm lens.
I really don’t see a lot of Bald Eagles up here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. They certainly are not rare in the area but tend not to hang out up here. I see them on carcasses/road kill all the time. They also hang out on the river valleys where they fish as opportunists. But to find one coming across my high ridge land ground is sort of an unusual thing. We have some wetland areas on our place where “most” of my other eagle sightings occur. They tend to hang near water which of course is where most animals levitate to. Ranchers are no exceptions. 😜
Some twilights are full of primary colors so pure they rival a new Pantone swatch chart (about 300 bucks new). I very carefully reproduce what happened that morning here. The snow had a decidedly cyan tint which I can see clearly in my minds eye from the moment of the shutter release. I don’t see it too often, it’s always under intensely involved Twilight Skies. I see so many posted images of electric blue snow. I’m confused because I have never seen electric blue snow in real life.
I’ve lived in Wyoming working with color images professionally or other artists beginning 1991. Experienced a few well taken winter images up here I have. It is my observations that Blue Colorcast in Snow is quite rare. Images that have it, are (usually) either 1: improperly set up white balance (most likely), or 2: intentional twisting up the volume on a broad stroke color enhance control. Now I’m all for art in a photograph but with full disclosure of the deed. I’m not going to present an art work as a photograph. It’s a matter of Professional Courtesy to other photographers.
I have found that a good portion of the viewer ship like color enhanced photos. Everybody has their own likes and that what art is all about. Unfortunately for that segment I’m a photorealist and try VERY hard to accurately reproduce what I saw at the time. I’m sorry, if you like blue snow, you’ll have to look at another artist. I live within in a blue snow free zone.
To me the ultimate perspectives are the foggy ones. Shadows within frame set up by the sun presented themselves to me. Foggy sunrises are not a common thing up here in the high country. There is a lot of topography here. Differences in elevation a mile apart can be 3-400 feet in this backcountry. Big Long ridge tops tower over the surrounding drainage. In order to see the sun in this area, one has to be on a ridge top. Fog is not as common on ridges. When It is, I try to be there.
I’m trying to remember how many of this kind of photo I have…. errr,…. none but this one I think. Foggy shadows are rare in my world of backcountry ridges here in the highlands. I see fog in the valleys rarely, 5 or 6 times a year. More likely, the cloud deck moves down with no mercy over us with 100 yards visibility at a bright LED Bulb. Totally obscuring all but grey flat light.
I’ve been OVER a cloud deck like this only few times up here. I got lucky anticipating the clearing above the Inversion layer, I went outside and saw a few stars break through a small window. On that, I took a trip to the highest point I can drive to around and instantly was in the clear. This is one such time. There were just wisps of moisture pushing over the ridge top this unusual morning. It was fully overcast flat light down in the valleys lolol. 👀📸