I am up on one of the highest points around for this capture. It was quite windy at that moment. That shakes your camera… hardly helpful lolol. Ridgetops are terrible spots for exposure to the relentless wind.
Overlooking the Little Powder River Valley 40 miles to the Red Hills all the way to my lens. The hill is known on ranch as “RattleSnake Ridge” or just “Rattlesnake”. . Someone blew up a rattlesnake den up here in the 1970’s is the story for the name of where I’m standing. The ridge between the camera view to the far Range is part of the “Prairie Dog Hills”. This is a view almost directly west along the MT/WY border. Both State in the frame.
The Distant Red Hills earn their name. Because of the far ridges tendency to literally be red in the morning. The pink Belt of Venus often drops down from the sky to the hills themselves. That color band drops opposite the rising sun covering the peaks. The red color reflects off of the already red rocks making up the ridge line. (“Clinker Geology” is a good google phrase).
Here the sun had just set behind the distant ridge 5 minutes prior to me turning my lens to this scene. The other side of the ridge is quite red and still illuminated. I am sure of it lol. What I see on that ridge in the morning, is what someone on the other side sees in the evening. Highlights. Here I’m in it’s shadow. Position and topography are my masters.
I’m pretty sure that light can not get “flatter” than this but I could be wrong. What I love about this image is the huge number of grey’s there are resultant from that matte screen. This was pretty far away from the gravel / county road out to the ranch bone yard. The drifts between the plowed road and this old plow are numerous and sometimes high and wide. Short Drifts you can punch through, Wide drifts you go around or you get stuck lol
The Ranches “Bone Yard” is a small patch of ground populated with disused antique farm equipment, good scrap metals and old stuff generally. Some of it is serviceable, some of it is not. A little welding here/there, then a tractor and your discing with anything that will pull the thing. There are many spare parts out in the boneyard.
I spent a month one year cleaning it up of mostly wood and old tires which are now buried in a building materials only landfill. It’s taken full trailers of steel from long times past from that boneyard when steel scrap was worth something. I’d get 400 – 500 dollars a load or scrap steel back in the day. There are still a LOT of equipment there that no doubt traces it’s history back to the beginning of the ranch. 100 years of accumulation leaves some interesting stuff lol. I’m thinking that every ranch of any size and length of ownership has a similar “Bone Yard”.
Our here in the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was a wonderful veiled sky with a diffuse sun and a dense cloud deck above. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me.
To use the head of a shoot of grass to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Grass contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves abound. Over the years I have found that “you are where you are during the final minutes of sunset”. My mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fact with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use a seed head.
I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun. I WAY prefer to use “cellulose” filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here I’m letting this stand of grass moderate the amounts of light coming into the camera. Even a few percent help. Any photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You onlyhave just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷
Let me start of by saying I LOVE trees growing out of rocks/boulders. This area on our ranch has a few trees demonstrating this phenomena. Where they grow the roots break up the much larger rocks under them into smaller rocks. I’m slowly starting to make a map of these in my head to refer to when the lighting is right. Heavily veiled skies as above are really good for doing perspectives and frames with foreground objects as this. Trees have their own attractions of course being the natural frames that they create are often better than the sunset/rise behind them lolol.
This is a view of the “Red Hills” (Their real Name). 40 miles distant on the horizon looking almost straight west.. Being a very wide angle lens capture, those hills on the horizon appear smaller here than they would look live. Your eye is naturally equivalent to a 55 mm lens. This image is at least 90 degrees wide at 24mm .
The scene in the sky was actually quite bright which made it hard for even the best camera technology to get the detail in the shadows. I run into technological brick walls all the time working outside or on the edge of the envelope of the light I see up here. Mostly my solution for it is to expose the highlights correctly and worry about the shadows in the digital dark room.
Of course I immediately saw the triangle in this veiled sky taken on solstice eve. Such forms in the sky are fleeting. I levitate toward and will image natural geometry in the world as I see it. The lens turns towards the light. The veiled sky imparted an orange color cast to the alpenglow that was rife at this moment in space and time.
I managed to get up on the local roof of the world. It’s a little slippy on the slopes. I actually own a new vehicle (F-150 Raptor) with studded snow tires . I’m thinking it’s an ideal expedition/backcountry vehicle. I got up on this hill with a 4000 pound Jeep Grand Cherokee. We’ll see if the heavier Raptor will make the pilgrimage to this high point.
Slightly right center on the horizon you can see the Big Horn Mountains at 130 miles. Snow covers the ground. We definitely had a white Christmas up here in Wyotana. Actively snowing during Christmas day. This is a 50mm capture which is equivalent to the way your eyes see the world.
No telephoto effects here. When you see me post images of the Big Horns Taken from here, consider the actual size of those 13,000 foot high range. Holding your thumb out at arms length would cover the range as you see it from this viewpoint. This is reality to our eyes but telescopic lenses literally crush perspective making the very far larger but things that are closer much larger proportionally. 🤔👀
I do a bit of close up photography of the sun and the moon. This is the sun on a smokey summer night as the horizon rose to meet it. Usually one would have to either totally shut down the camera to light or use a glass neutral density filter on front of the camera to photograph this. With enough forest fire derived smoke in the atmosphere, the picture becomes easier.
This sun as are most of the sun images I’ve taken at the solar minimum show no sun spots. We are literally at a sunspot low since 1913. Low sunspot numbers lead to a cooler climate on a general level due to a large number of reasons. We are in solar cycle 24 (since 1755 when they were first noticed and subsequently recorded. These cycles from low to high sunspot numbers with an average 11 years. This is a very interesting time to be an informed geologist watching the climate “debate”. I’ve been following this since 1976.
The Maunder Minimum was an extended period from 1645 to 1715 where it got cold as the sun (the furnace) turned down the heat. Known as “the Litle Ice Age, the growing season in Europe shortened by a full month. Crop losses caused mass famines . The population of Iceland decreased by about half. . Exceptionally severe winters were the rule in North America. China had to change the crops it had grown for centuries to adapt .
If the furnace turns itself down, famine with hard times follow. Warm times geologically have been periods of high biological activities. We better hope it doesn’t get colder….. During Maudner: (Solar radiance was down about .24% lower than current levels so it doesn’t take much)
Channeling Japan in the Backcountry is a capture that brings the orient to mind. Classic Pines, striking sunsets, sloping ground. I’ve never done an “Uphill” on the sun’s side before. The extra negative space somehow balances this equation of light and time.
This was a cold morning and I had been looking for a place to do this as the sky was phenomenal. A veiled sun is always a good subject to work on Parallel Ridge. Follow the shadow line and see what lines up. Get some trees a few hundred yards out, turn up your f-stop and see if you can get them in focus with the background. A long focal field utilizing a telephoto lens is possible. But only at the great cost of a loss of lighting getting into your camera. You have to turn light gathering ability up in your camera by either increasing your camera sensitivity(ISO) AND OR use a longer exposure to enable light in over a longer period of time.
So distance from your forground object is your friend. Don’t forget to look behind yourself when you “step back”. The few times I’ve fallen with camera gear were ALL walking backwards. I’ve stumbled a few times doing other things but falling on my ass….all walking backwards. Save the cameras though lolol. Scrambling around the ridges and hills covered with sage, yucca and other low bushes is challenging for vehicles AND on foot. Loose rocks. I’ve put a few miles over such terrain. Sure footedness is a skill I have been lucky enough to develop.
It’s the camera’s I’m worried about lolol. I drop or somehow ding one about once a year. Fortunately I’ve only ever damaged camera bodies. The lenses have done fine. I watched a long lenses 3K dollar rig bounce off the ground
Weather this year has been cooperative in getting the Setting BigHorn Sun over the Notch between the 13,000 foot high peaks.
The Sun apparent motion is from left to right as well as down so it actually set on the peaks to the right. It’s kind of tricky to figure out where to set up for an image like this. I’m WAY out away from the range at 130 miles for this shot and the area in the sky this image covers is tiny. Hold up your thumb at an arms length and your covering it from where I am. Those are HUGE peaks, they just get smaller as I move away. The sun doesn’t change size so quickly lolol.
This sky was a Sunslit. The sun came down from the thick cloud deck above to light up the narrow strip of the sky. The relative difference in dynamic range of the bright sun and the much less bright land makes silhouettes. My eyes could have seen details in the land if I wasn’t totally blinded by the sun at that moment.
I remind you it’s not the sun that is setting. It’s the horizon that is rising. Things are as they are, not as they seem or as you were told. This is the basis science works off of. The trick is to determine how they are … The essence of discovery is the effort to discern the way things actually work. Electricity comes out of the wall right?
Lone Tree on Veiled Sun. When I get a heavily 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 in this capture. The sun is a little further behind.
The clouds were very thick and obscuring with the sun blinking in and out from 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. 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 , this would be impossible. 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….
Don’t point a DSLR camera into the sun. It can blind you if you look into the eyepiece and it will probably burn a spot in your digital image chip in the camera. I use a full frame mirrorless Sony Alpha 7R 2’s ,3’s and 4’s which I routinely point at the sun. Resultant… no apparent damage to the cameras over several years of this.
If your buying gear soon….
Mirrorless Cameras: I’m not blind now because I look through the a Mirrorless cameras eyepiece which has a video screen behind the glass so no direct path of light to blind you. Newer mirrorless cameras do this video thing. Older Designed DSLR’s don’t show you your image until AFTER YOU CLICK. Mirrorless Cameras show you your settings changes live on screen and you get what you see when you click not after. If your shopping for cameras, I would tell you to buy mirrorless. Particularly if you work outside with cameras. Studio it’s not critical either way.
In a rare moment of personal grooming, I caught the Moon Leaning in for a Trim on “Sneaky Petes” rapidly spinning blades. Talk about cutting cheese!!📸
Photographers notes: I’m illuminating “Sneaky Pete” the photobombing Windmill with the LED lightbar of my UTV. It was pitch black out but for the lightly veiled moon. The blur is both Wyotana wind and long exposure time. Only a veiled moon will work for this kind of shot. An un-encumbered moon is too bright for our cameras limited dynamic range to resolve the difference. Also, distance from the terrestrial object is your friend. This is a 200 yards out shot on the windmill…a bit further for the moon… Park Rig and start walking back and turn up your fstop for focal depth lolol. Tripod…
If your new to my “world”…. “Sneaky Pete” is a years long narrative of mine. He’s quite the fellow/character and his brother windmill here on the ranch….”Re Pete” are both always photobombing my landscapes. I have no control over their actions but I snuck up on “Sneaky” for this one 🤣 His second job as a barber and all that …… He’s (wait for it) ………….. “Moonlighting” for this job 😎
This Mule Deer Buck was definitely watching this Veiled Sunset.
I find linking up deer with the moon (harder) and or the sun to be a challenge of finding the right topography that enables me to “work” the scene. In this case (all hand held camera shots walking across backcountry grassy, yucca, rocky terrain), moving as the deer and the sun moves. 800mm telephoto. I worked this deer and his partner (off frame for this capture) for about 20 minutes which is about 400 clicks or so with several cameras ….Forever in my world….
The hard part is getting them to “look up” between bites when I’m about 300 yards away on a parallel ridge and they are used to me being on the prairie with a noisy ATV. He really was watching that sunset. I’ve seen them do it many times.
I was lucky enough to wander into this kind of deer versus sun on a ridge 4 times last year and only once this year so far. Hit or miss on deer habits…..