Driving toward the Montana / Wyoming border to work a high spot for a veiled sunset. Rapidly developing, light conditions change by the second. I’m trying to get somewhere to photograph the “sunsets” timeline when I saw this developing. From inside my truck on a remote county road at sunset, a meadowlark was enjoying the sunset. Famous for their vocalizations, they are a challenge to just get a photo of in my experience. Lining one up with a veiled sun is a bucket list item. Now if I can only get an American Eagle to do this….. 🤔 😀 📸
In small bird photography, there is a goal of eyebrow close, feather detail photos. Then there is having celestial objects cooperate AND cloud cover just so to let the shape without all the glare into the frame. Being hard to get close to is the game, getting sol to cooperate is just amazingly cool in my world. But then I like to point cameras into the sun. (Disclaimer: Professional Mirrorless Cameras that can take it. No DSLR’s please….
It is very hard to get finished images without a rim around the silhouette of some other color. It’s a diffraction artifact from a high f-stop setting. . This amazing capture has no trace of a color rim. Sharp as heck. I’m still trying to figure that one out. If I do I’ll share it with you. Color rims around objects against bright light is a problem I’ve been trying to solve for years. I have a clue… perhaps… 👀 🤔
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.
The lighting was so unusual I pulled up and pursued it as hard as I could. The heavily veiled sun was peaking through up the hill. But not where I was standing hundreds of yards away. The angles were unusual. I was sun shaded but bright spotlights shone through the veil. This high lighting the hillside. This sunrise was a nice variation of the many themes I have experienced. Lots of contrasts and highlights are a good thing lol.
There is a fossil site below that tree… I haven’t really dug much there, just scratching the surface. I know there is a caudal vertebra from some dinosaur sitting up there under the edge of a boulder about a foot from where I initially found it. It’s only a few inches across. There are also a few bone cross sections (outcrop with bones sticking out) under the cap rock. I don’t believe it is worth my time to dig there as it’s likely just a few random individual bones. They are likely NOT bones from the same individual. Bones soon to become fossils were washed into that spot by the Cretaceous Age rivers. (End of the Dinosaur Era). 53 percent of the fossil record is composed of pieces and parts of Triceratops… They were the cows of the day..
Everybody on two legs (theropods like T-rex) at them. The more things change, the more they remain the same. 2 legged creatures of today eat those modern day cows too.
During these winter days with obscured/veiled suns and sunslits, I consider Perspectives with Wide Angle Lenses as my activity for the day. Interesting lighting speaks for itself but up close and personal is better.
Deeply weathered fence brace wood just grabs attention promoting my “deep focus” love of this particular lens. This brace there far in excess of the 2 decades I’ve been driving by it lol. .These corner braces carry a huge amount of tension with the barbed wire humming in the wind they are so tight. I’ve heard that many times up here…fences humming in the wind. Keep that wire tight !!!. Lot’s o tension on the bottom of that left post. Building braces well utilized, on all fences, is a science here.. Warm Season brings more fencing practice every year.
We have about 30 miles of 3-4 strand fence on my relatively small ranch alone. Some of the Big Ranches have people that only fix fences on the payroll. It takes a pretty tough hombre’ to string barbed wire without tangling yourself up in it lolol. It is work that will keep you in shape. The snow up here varies by the day this early in the winter. Somedays it all mostly melts and others it’s covering everything. Two track roads will be un-passible shortly due to mud. I choose not to damage the ranches roads with my 5700 pound vehicle.
Favorite ridge line look out spots will be snow drifted in. Photographic necessity requires me to plow some of my two tracks to allow me to get up on “ridge one”. I am at the top of the first of 5 ridge east of my homestead. From the top of which there is a 180 mile across horizon to horizon view. The high ridges are snow lined lightly on the windswept top of which, I can usually drive quite a ways to if it’s not muddy.
This is one of the most intense smokey sunsets that I have ever captured. From the summer of 2018, I’m just now finalizing the image. I have a huge back log of about 4000 images that I’ve previous worked on and like a lot. Getting them all finished is job one around here until it isn’t.
I’m standardizing all my frame sizes to be consistent. These days I’m mostly finishing square and 3×2 aspects (landscape and portrait) with ventures into 2:1 diptychs and 3:1 triptychs multiple image scenes. I’m slowly building those “coffee table books”. I’ve got nearly 1200 finished images with 250 – 300 word (or more) narratives attached composed since September 21st 2019. Every day without fail since then I’ve put out an average of 5.7 photos and 2000 words. I’m not sure I can keep this up through the summer but I’ll give it my best.
The light environment here was quite dark with the sun still up. When only crimson hues make it through the gauntlet of smoke, soot, ash plus atmospheric conditions. In other words this was actually a very low light capture, you could easily look at the sun with your frail human optic sensors. This was more like 20 minutes after sunset with a dim moon looking at me instead of a setting sun.
I’ve seen this happen with ice in the air but never this intense. Smoke and other particulates are better at it but suspended atmospheric ice does a wonderful job trapping all the blues greens and yellows.
Windmill Wednesday, Windmill Junkies Unite :🤘📷 Don’t let your mother know you look at subversive material like this….🤔😜
Veiled sunsets make it much easier for me to point a long camera lens at the sun. The glare blocking ability of clouds combined here with a photobombing windmill effectively reduced the stress on my gear. This night was a pretty one. Veiled suns are by far the best background for me to take a landscape with… If I could only keep “Re Pete” from moving into my scenes. I have no control over these windmills actions.. 😜😜📸 Attention hogs all how they work into my landscapes.
Silhouettes of trees which are much closer than the windmill which by the way is a tad close than the sun is. This windmill hangs out about 3 miles away from my homestead and is a rare shot in the winter. I don’t get over in that country much particularly now that mud season is “spotty” with days being above freezing and nights crisping up. Morning is way less muddy than evening. I way prefer winter weather in the high 20’s than the low thirties. I will not drive a pickup truck over saturated old Prairie. Ruts are damage to turf that has existed for several hundred years at least. The roads are almost as bad at the moment but at 32 degrees, it’s snowing as I type this.
I admire the strength and tenacity of a lone tree on a ridge. They are alone in their survival subject to the wild Wyotana weather. 80 mph winds here just about every year. Cold cold cold windchills. Drying winds with only 14 inches of precipitation a year.
The hardships for this tree have been ongoing for at least 100 years for this isolated survivor. Pine trees grow where their pine cone opened and released the fertile seed after a local grass fire triggered it. The heat causes the cones to release their seeds. I haven’t done a ring count but 100 years seems right for it’s size. Such can be deceiving though. Really big Pines here are hundreds of years old. By comparison, this is not a huge pine, about 30 feet high but very wide for it’s height. This shot was from across a canyon from a parallel ridge to the east. (behind me)
The Contrast of course is what this photo is all about. The lighting was diffuse so the sky wasn’t terribly interesting that day . Flat light can make for big contrasts between darker shades and mid-tones. The golden fields of grass ready to bale this last fall provide the backdrop for this old warrior of the ridges.
Many of the trees in this local area were burned in the late 1930’s by “fires that burned until the first snows fell. This tree is certainly remote on this hill with the closest other tree being several hundred feet distant. I believe this field has been cleared of sage early on. They did a lot of that clearing by hand. Horse and pulled single row plow back in 1906 when what was to become this ranch, was first settled.
As I drive down the county red gravel road, I look to my left. Traveled a bit further to pull over safely. The paucity of traffic up here makes me drive even more carefully as I pull over at the strangest times. In the last 2 years I believe I’ve met less than 10 different cars / trucks out on the backroads working sunset/sunrises in this backcountry. . This image on “Section 36” taken 2 miles south of the Wyoming / Montana border . This is nothing like AREA 51 just so you know… . Section 36 in any particular township is the “school” section. That square mile reserved by the govt for the gov’t to be used for a school building.
This is a “School Section” mostly state owned ground 660 acres in size. It is leased to a neighboring ranch to me. A square Mile of State ground. Private ground past on the far Ridge. The pyramidal hill on the right skyline is “Mitten Butte”. Back in the 1950’s, the view the Parks Road /Trail Creek One room School House had. No neighbors then either. Only two signs of that old building… Some concrete foundations remain over a bank where they. Secondarily an old oil burning furnace about 3x3x5 feet still sits on the prairie marking the site where most of the local ranch kids learned the basics. It was a mile plus walk from our homestead where quite a few of the local kids came from to school.
Wyoming Windmill Winter Wonderland : Last post for Windmill Wednesday Theme Day, number 6 of 6 Windmills posted around social media, Facebook and the internet. Hope you Enjoyed my theme day 🙂 Windmill Junkies are all not overdosed for a while …..
When the winter really moves in, the game changes. The familiar ground becomes blanketed with the diffuse white. It’s MUCH harder to get around. When the drifts get much over 2 foot tall, , it get’s interesting. When they get 20 foot across, that’s a problem. A big issue are low areas that collect deep snow. You can loose a pickup in those areas till spring lolol.
January is a month that has a tendency to have long periods of cold weather. A front moves down from Alaska through Montana and we are frozen like Siberia . We do see -30 some winters and -20 virtually every winter. I clean about 1 mile of driveway. Fortunately we haven’t had any snows that exceed my skid steers ability to push through. Historically they have had some big storms up here. I was told of a 15 foot drift in our current front yard. Hopefully those storms will avoid us for decades.
I am currently testing the abilities of my new ford f-150 pickup (Raptor). It doesn’t seem to care about snow yet but there is only about 6 inches of snow at the moment after the melt off a few weeks ago. I can drive anywhere at the moment except I won’t go to stupid spots where snow gets deep very quickly and is in shade so it doesn’t melt. Snow can get VERY deep there. At any rate, I’m getting around better now.
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. 🤔👀
This is called Lone Tree Ridge Sunrise. The Clouds were such that I could point the camera into the furnace and actually see details on the edge. Such conditions where I can catch a sun surface like this are not common. The necessary glare filter here is natural cloud cover. I have a lot a captures from this morning using that veiled sun but this is one of my favorite Lone trees. It’s actually alive but it looks pretty scraggly lol.
My arrival at this alignment here is about 15 minutes too late. If the sun was lower I would have moved back from the ridge to keep the angle. Thusly more of Lone Tree would have been above the ridge . The tree is just behind the crest from this angle. Still the effect was very interesting to my artsy side so I finished the image. The yellow sun is natural as the camera saw it. It is way to bright for me to say what color it was outside the cameras protective video environment. Looking at this scene through anything but a mirrorless camera (not a DLSR) could blind you . Pick the wrong camera and you can also burn a hole in your sensor chip. Double trouble with less expensive cameras so be aware.
I worked about 15 locations over a 10 mile stretch of Wyoming Backroads that morning. It was way to muddy to go into the backcountry and tear up my two track roads. I’ll wait until it’s frozen again to venture up into the backcountry.
During these winter days with obscured/veiled suns, I consider Perspectives with Wide Angle Lenses as my activity for the day. Interesting lighting speaks for itself but up close and personal is better. The two rusty nails in the lower right corner of this just grab my “deep focus” love of this particular lens.
The bent rod on the far left is a BLM Benchmark that someone’s vehicle hit with and bent at this tight corner in the remote backcountry. It’s been there for the 20 years I’ve been driving by it lol. The rail has the Benchmark Wired to it.. Keeping the cattle from moving it was the purpose. 250 dollars to disturb lolol . I haven’t touched it😀
These corner braces carry a huge amount of tension with the barbed wire humming in the wind they are so tight. I’ve heard that many times up here…fences humming in the wind. Keep that wire tight !!!. Lot’s o tension on the bottom of that left post. Building braces well utilized, on all fences, is a science here.. Warm Season brings more fencing practic every year. We have about 30 miles of 3-4 strand fence on my ranch alone. Some of the big Ranches have people that only fix fences on the payroll. It takes a pretty tough hombre’ to string barbed wire without tangling yourself up in it lolol.
The snow up here varies by the day this early in the winter. Somedays it all mostly melts and others it’s covering everything. Two track roads will be unpassable shortly. My ridge line lookout spots will be snow drifted in. I’ve been known to plow some of my two tracks to allow me to get up on ridge one. The high ridges are snow light on the windswept top of which, I can usually drive quite a ways.