These monster storms often miss us entirely, sometimes not so much. We had one roll right over us dropping 1/2 hour of up to 3 inch hail on the place. A mile wide strip of crushed grass and broken things. There were at least three ranches up here along the border that got pummeled in early July by one of these big clouds. We do get much needed rain from the periphery of these big fellows. Sometimes you get a little more than you need. Flash Floods, Hail, Lightning, Tornado’s do come out of these. Occasionally we get just a nice rain 😜
The HUGE country up here only sees a few tornados a year. The big rotating mass (like a 80 mile wide top with a 20 mile across base) spins very slowly, imperceptively so. The drafts and wind currents clearly visible along the sides. The center of the cloud was still growing taller in this point in the storms timeline. Rotational energy in the horizontal that turns into vertical becomes problematic. Tornado’s are no fun except to see at a distance.
I followed this storm for about 3 hours leading into late twilight. It was such a good projector screen later in the evening for that late twilight “Belt of Venus” pink and orange. The road way added a few layers to this red tinted landscape. It’s Golden Hour lighting at this point in the timeline. That just hasn’t reached up to the clouds yet just hitting the ground as I clicked this frame.
Let me say right off this is a 60″ x 20 ” triptych image of the Devils Tower and the Missouri Buttes Volcanic Field. It was taken during 85 degree F weather in the LATE golden hour lighting. The storm that laid down this large swath of hail made national news in early August 2020. Bikers were certainly driving around the tower on the far side. This side of the 1000 foot high devils tower is “Slathered” with hail and Ice.
The atmospheric moisture between where I stand and the 35 mile distance to the tower is thick. It is mostly precipitation drifting off the rear of the huge mesocyclone just passed though this country. It was Pounding western South Dakota as I was taking this image. This is just the trailing edge still hanging over Wyoming. I followed this storm for 3 hours working the range of photographic activities you might expect of such a big customer as this storm.
I’ve never even seen this in winter before. I’ve worked this scenery a hundred times or more. How do you coat the steep (vertical) sides of a Dark Rock National Monument totally white? Just add a few inches of a few inch across hail and all sorts of things can happen lolol.
Location: The pass at Rockypoint Wyoming (Trail Creek Rd) on the Border of Campbell Co, Crook county being a few miles south of the Montana border.
Taken around 11PM at night of the LONG day we had a dangerous grass fire on ranch. I had gotten up at 3AM to work Neowise Comet the night before. LONG day. A lightning storm around 2 pm started a fire over a ridge about a mile from my homestead. Instantly upon hearing thunder I jumped in the Raptor. Used it’s agility to quickly get the heck up the 400 foot hill I climb to see around. Binocs come out. Sure enough, smoke in one of our fields and a rapidly growing area of flame in 20 mph winds. Crushed grass from hail and somewhat grazed down fortunately. It took me 20 minutes to get a fire truck to the scene. We activate the local calling tree. The counties involved were both Powder River Mt and Cambell County Wy. The fire was on the border. This conflagration harmed no dinosaurs.👀😜
We are under extreme fire danger up in the country this year with one of the driest June/July’s on record. Last year was one of the wettest. If you don’t like the Wyotana weather, stick around it will change. Such as it been since the beginning of time on earth lolol. We are loaded with hundreds of square miles of hour fuel. A Hour fuel is very combustible. Dry grass for example. Fortunately grass fires are easier to fight than timber fires. We kept it out of the timber.
So we fought that fire, after seeing the Bureau of Land Management crew sitting the fire overnight and wishing them a peaceful night under the stars, I went back toward the homestead only to be waylaid by this little thunderstorm (Mesocyclone) for another hour. Time exposures of up to 30 second. It was a little windy that night as I indicated. The trees are all blurred from moving around in the lengthly 20-30 second period of electronic shutter. Wind moving my truck/tripod is problematic. Particularly if there were any point sources of light around. Blurs result.
Note the stars in the upper right corner of the frame.
I recently posted another from this timeline. Real Color. I’ve seen no better red double than this sunset back show capture before. I wish I had a chopper to go up about 300 feet though. Seeing this as a 360 circle would be a bucket list item but only if I have my cameras with me…. Intentionally maneuvered the reflective back of a “Right Turn Clyde” Sign dead center as it was just right to reflect the sunlight directly in the center of the rainbow.
I have this thing for holographic red dot sights on carbines. Not that that tendency had anything to do with this composition lol👁 . If you’ve ever used a good Trijicon™ holographic rifle sight, some of the reticles look just like this. The reflective sign is exactly at the “Antipode” of the sun’s position in the sky behind me. Good google word for the evening… 🤔 👀 📷
So why is a “Red Rainbow” rare. Well it can only occur at the perfect time of the day under specific circumstances. Mere minutes maybe if the photographer is lucky. I worked this with 3 cameras in those few minutes. Water can only refract (not reflect) a rainbow using the color of light the situation provides to the rain fall curtain. At the trailing edge of that larger area of rain, the deep cranberry is also rare. The partially occluded sunset behind me is acting as both refraction plus reflection here. The 22 degree rainbow is obvious but the other red is reflecting off the water falling directly coloring the clouds and sky. Both phenomena are involved here.
Really it’s all about the source of light which traveling through dirty atmosphere (not implying pollution, could just be moisture). The red light is the furthest traveled light through our atmosphere. The cranberry color is literally my favorite. This is as close as I can get this to how I saw it. I could have easily lightened the lower grass in the digital darkroom. That’s not how it was. It was very dark just like this with just a spotlight of light for me to capture. Thank you mother nature.
Sometimes little ephermeral ponds for even mid-summer. Late that particular afternoon a line of storms was moving to my left and this Shelf cloud was putting on a show.
Shelf clouds are not to be confused with wall clouds which are typically symptoms of a severe often rotating individual cell. This one was at least 60 miles long from my perspective continuing well back over my head almost to the horizon. I have the components for a really really really Tall image, maybe 12 to 2 in this width. Needless to say this was very impressive to be under. I wasn’t in the best place for a close far to using what I had…..
Must be good water😂 the cattle have been drinking it right? I think that water is mostly melted hail. Lots of water is collected over the 80 acre drainage that feeds this little water hole. Couldn’t be anything living in that I’m sure…….? 👀 It’s a dry summer. The grass here was just trampled by a hard hail storm July 5th. Late in the afternoon, it flattened pretty much everything that didn’t have a woody stem. Most trees were heavily cut up by the up to 3 inch stones. The dry year grass crop with was terrible to start with. It is all flat now along the strip of the hail path. I really do respect this weather up here. It’s all business when it’s active. . Crop insurance is an important consideration in any business plan.
I watched the TV commercials very carefully. Just like the internet, it was on TV so it must be true….🤔
Based on Media Learning: I’m pretty sure that there is a BIG pile of “Skittles™” behind that hill top. The shafts of tasty fruity candy falling from the sky will definitely liven things up. That’s a lot easier than milking a Giraffe for the same candy. (If you know what I’m talking about, I’m worried about you 😜. ) I actually do like skittles. There might be a few too many there for just little me to deal with. I wonder how long they will keep? We only get 14 inches of precip a year… Imagine if all those melted into one big lump…. Skittles Butte…😜 😜 📸 So many strange phenomena these days
Back to my “Normal” programming…
IF I was on that hill top, I’d be looking at a full rainbow. This far back, I only get one bit of one leg. The lighting was VERY late in the day. Tall Rainbows are late or early (low sun). Really wide rainbows low to the ground are high sun mid-day rainbows. This sheet rainbow is simply one leg of what would be a HUGE rainbow if there were rain drops higher. Being surrounded by rain in an airplane is the best way to see a completely circular rainbow. I’ve never seen a completely circular rainbow let alone photograph one.
If I would have driven quickly up to that ridge top I would have left a muddy track so I stayed where I was. Knowing where to drive up here is a big deal as “Gumbo” is about in random places. Gumbo” which is Bentonitic Clay turns to slick mud that will stick a D-10 Bulldozer. I generally don’t drive off known trail after a rainstorm. That way I avoid having to use my trucks winch and ground anchor to get out of the mud… I’ve never gotten stuck….soooooo close though lolol.
Old Ranch Houses from the 1900’s aren’t usually so well preserved. Nor were there many built this nicely and large. That is a very large pre-electricity structure in this country.
Located at the head of a local Drainage. Multiple artesian lakes surround the Historic ranch fed from the Fox Hill Aquifer 300 feet below. Cracks deep into the ground feed water to the surface, lakes form. A land of plenty and a wonderful place in the world as far as I can see. Caretakers live there with the ranch also being part of a much larger Cattle Ranchers Association. No one has given me a comprehensive oral history recap on the family. I have heard members Parks family started out driving a big herd of sheep up here from Sheridan, crosses 3 big rivers along the way, lost someone to a river crossing. Came up to Wyotana. They did very well building this house along with outbuildings and barn.
Sometime in the past the sounds of livestock sounds on this land changed from baaaa to moooo. Several Generations of several families have inhabited the old ranch house. Some people I’ve talked to have lived there. Some of those lived on my place as well. Small community around here. It’s still an interesting place inside with wonderful old oak woodwork. livable, good place to bunk. Dated to the 1950’s inside and out. Locally Obtained wood must have all been felled/cut within a few miles . Notable exception to the oak molding lol.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
Just to give you an idea of scale of this image, that white roof is the size of a regulation football field. That building is our stock barn next to my homesteads compound. (I call that our “infield”). This was taken using a 12 mm (very wide angle) lens to take in about 100 degree slice of sky. The top of the photo is essentially straight up. In other words, this is a big wide/tall view of about 1/3rd of the sky. This was right over us and worse moving in.
This was a mean one. The actively rolling Jump rope hoop on the right center was rotating nicely. It reminds me of a “Smoke ring” for some reason. Seeing obvious rotation is always an adrenaline rush. Then the rush for cover….
After the fact…checking my Davis Pro II weather stations (2) data on the actual stations showed two different high wind speeds. Station 1 was high wind of 79mph with Station 2 coming in at 84mph.
This storm did indeed do some damage and I got down to that big roof to ride out the storm under. It blew a plexiglass window out of the frame in that building, cartwheeled a previously nice calf shed over a fence, (damaged it), and tipped over 2 long empty above ground gasoline tanks on stands. We get high winds all the time so damage to trees was minimal around the house. Having said that, I have seen several broken pines out in the backcountry showing fresh damage. When you have full grown pine trees snapping, it’s classified as a “Stiff” Wyotana breeze. 😜📸
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana) May 2020
I was watching this monster come in. It was coming right at us. Everybody on ranch had their car under that big white roof a mile distant from my camera. That roof is the size of a regulation foot ball field in it’s entirety. Built in 1964, it was the largest building in Campbell County Wyoming. It’s a pretty tough heavy metal framed building. That roof replaced in 2008. After a hail storm threw baseball sized ice chunks at us. That along with all the other roof tin on the ranch. Definition of “Big pile” of dented metal left over after that repair. I’m still using it for various projects.
I seriously respect hail in this country having seen it crash through car windows many times. I also respect the down drafts from big storms that have shelf clouds stretching 130+ degrees across the horizon. Taken with the widest lens in my tool kit. It’s not a panorama but a 10mm lens. Looking south west (right frame) and east left frame. I couldn’t fit the whole thing in with the gear I had. I don’t have a lens wider than 10mm for full frame Sony cameras. No one makes one.
I thought this storm might produce the golf ball sized hail it was known for from radio warnings. That missed us as it passed fortunately. Rapidly moving, it produced .3 tenths of an inch of sideways rain and 60+ mph winds but from where I stand, they were way higher say near 80. I had a calf shed cartwheel over a fence, a window blew in, two empty 500 gasoline tanks/ stands blew over. Found some things moved “quite a ways” here and there by the blow. I made it into that big shed before it hit but that is where I weathered the storm too lol.
Driving under rapidly growing spring Mesocyclones is always an interesting time. This magnificent display of Mammatus billows coming out of the flow bands in this huge storm transcends normalcy. Though admittedly this still growing sporty “little” mesocyclone is a small one based on local standards of 100 miles across for big ones. It’ve seen them spanning the 3 states of Wyoming / Montana / South Dakota from my high ridges. It’s right at 90 miles to South Dakota east of my door step.
Monsters each and every one of these storms. They do spawn tornadic activity. I’ve only photographed one funnel up in this country over 20 years. They do occur in the county I live in. Straight line winds are aggressive at times. The average counties up here are bigger than a couple of US states. We are on the high plains weather wise… We only get one or two tornados a year within 150 miles of here as a general observation. You don’t want to be right under a mesocyclone that isn’t moving very fast because your gonna get wet there…
Big Spinning Mesocyclones are absolutely amazing storms to observe on the sunlit side. I’ve been known to follow but storm chasing is not my tendency. I’m usually running from them more than driving toward them.😜 I deeply respect hail in this country very much. We had base ball sized (3) inch hail hit the homestead in 2008. That left a few marks… Had to replace 44000 square feet of metal roof on the combined buildings here on ranch. I’m still using pieces of that old roofing for misc. projects. Works great for raised bed gardens.
This is a VERY wide image of 130 degrees or so with the top of the frame being straight up overhead. Mitten Butte in the distance center is the 300 foot tall monadnock for scale.
This unusual sky happened about 10 days ago on a stormy eventing in mid March 2020. I had been working this sky for several hours photographically due to the wondrous storm clouds moving through the area. As a grand final act of the stage show that evening, a distant storm cloud decided to make a flashlight beam out of the suns blanket. The edge of that ‘little cloud” on the far right horizon blocked and quartered the sun nicely BEFORE it was actually down. It enabled just an amazing sliver of bright sun to cut the ice in the air with it’s light. All the while that light was color casted orange by passing the hundreds of miles long gauntlet of dust and ice in the air.
This “spotlight” beam passing through the atmospheric ice was indeed a worth show to see and capture. I particularly like the lighter blue’s gradient to the darker indigo above. This is a hint of the extreme wide angle lens I was using to capture this 130 degree wide vistas. The top of the photo is nearly straight up. It is difficult to get a proper prospective without a foreground object. The camera was looking south on the left frame to northwest on the right frame. In other words, it’s a huge chunk of the sky. (10 mm full frame lens)I am constantly wow’d by sky show performances up here. I was lucky to have experienced this night.
There are many more capture of the storms moving through that evening that were/are very good captures indeed. They will slowly make it into my workflow. 2’x3′ image aspect
Taken after sunset, the LOW angle long wavelength sunlight is still reaching the curved boundary under that reflective bumpy “projector screen”. The landscape is in total shadow from a storm low on the horizon over my shoulder at sunset. This storm is around 100 mile across and called a “Mesocylone”. I’m parked under the huge trailing apron of it. While not terribly common, Mammatus clouds are often very dramatic particularly with just the right light…📷 An affiliation with storms that produce extreme weather has been noted over the years. Hail isn’t usually far away with these olympic athletes of cloud types.
This one easily spans 3 states in my part Wyoming/Montana with South Dakota about 80 miles east. We are not sure exactly what is going on in this kind of cloud morphology. I will tell you that cloud boundaries form where two different air masses meet. Like oil floating in water, the density interface gets all visually 3D on us. Localized micro currents of flow scours into the air mass below like ripples in water. I think the the boys at “Skunk Works” would call it turbulence. Most planes divert around these atom bomb energy storms for good reason. You don’t want to fly through one for sure.
The water and air interface is one where two states of matter mix. The relative density differing the two substances create that obvious boundary. Gravity is doing the sorting. Cloud/clear air boundaries are not that different. Ripples and moving air channels / flow channels both vertical and horizontal within these Mesocyclones are chaotically complex apparently lolol.
There are so many things this “look” like. I’ll just keep my Pareidolia mostly in check and limit my visualization of a rattle snake rattle rising from the plains and or a face looking left with quite a hair doo… Back to my “normal” programming…
Talk about uplifting… IT was a day full of isolated thunderstorms with this being the start of one. Just about every direction had a small storm dumping about. This Isolated thermal column seemed unusual to me and I’ve been watching clouds for a while. I usually take images of things that make my jaw drop. I had to yank a really wide lens into service to capture the whole thing. This image is over 110 degrees tall so the top is almost straight overhead to the zenith in the sky.
Working LONG focal length lens most of the time, I have to literally “step back” and look around me. If I don’t I miss many things that are often more interesting than what I’m trying to photograph. I had run up the east hill to see if there were any rainbows behind me (in this view). When rain shower move over the area and there is SOME sun, I’m watching for rainbows.
Chasing rainbows leads to photographing clouds sometimes but I’m not a stickler for being particular. If nature is showing off for me, I’m more than happy to capture her attributes. We need more of that rain
There is a huge amount of detail down in that dark with the misty transition to the backlit rain shafts, I had to publish this. It is very simple but the layering of the landscape was such a attraction. I really don’t post a lot of colorcast orange / yellow images but there is enough umber backlight to suit me here lolol.
This is a look west with the sun setting behind the rain bands. The closest ground to the camera is 10 miles out in the distance and the far ridge is 40 miles out. The weather this time of year is confused typically. I never know what I’m going to see when I drive the two track roads up to the high ridges. I’m as high up for this shot as the largest far hill. Your looking across a wide river valley occupied by the “Little Powder River” that is about 20 feet wide this time of year normally.
Oh, that little river is responsible for removing all the material between where I’m standing and that high peak. Geologists see things as happening one sand grain at a time. Each being moved down a little river over time. Given enough grains moved, mountains are formed by just being left behind.
The many layers of this landscape ladder with such subtle differences of tonations just stopped dead my scrolling through the dreaded “Photos to finish” folder… Taken a few weeks ago as it posts. April 2020.
Thank god, been waiting for this a while…. (since OCT 1, 2019). The water falling is washing away the brown to leave the green underneath. This must be why all the flood water is brown downstream right? 😜📷
With the green season above, there are three seasons up here. White season or simply “the snowy time”. Brown Season hereby defined as ground with no snow. And green season, when there is no snow and just a little brown. Last year was a VERY rare long green season when AUGUST had green grass. Almost unheard of up here in the borderlands. This was certainly the most wet year in my 20 year memory on this ground. I consider winters here easy.
I spent a decade living / working in Jackson Hole Wyoming dealing with 6 feet of snow flat every year in the back yard. We do get some good snows with WINDS here on the border. Jackson Hole is not overly windy. We have WAY more drifting than Jackson did. I used to snow blow a foot of powder snow a couple of times a month. Snow seldom drifted like it does here.. Jackson Wins the snow amounts hands down over here in the borderlands. We win here with the amount of wind. Jackson is Colder of course. I’ve lived 30 years in Wyoming this year. I first came here as a student of geology 40 years ago in 1980.
Under veiled sun about 30 minutes to sunset, the golden lightt from the suspended ice in the air provides the atmosphere for this capture. Close/Far perspectives of these wonderful pine bark textures with sunsets up on the high ridges are well worth pursuing. They provide me with textures and lines leading off toward a distant focal point. Drawing the minds eye deeper into the image, the hundres of year old tree lays waiting for the night.
This is dry high ridge country here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana . The location several miles into the backcountry of this 4000 foot in elevation ridge. In this area, occurred a fire that burned all summer during the 1930’s. That fire didn’t go out until the snows fell in the fall. This obviously changed the landscape from a heavily forested pine grove into a more open landscape.
Prior to human habitation, wildfires were always burning unchecked across North America. Then it got worse because native Americans did a LOT of burning to open up the deep woodlands. A grassland/forest mix is good for the wildlife. And they knew it. Pretty much right up until maybe 100 years ago.
🤔 Wildfire is natures way of controlling the build up of forrest floor litter. The old trees do fine in the smaller grass fires under them. Many pine cones open releasing their seeds due to the fires. Fires are responsible for trimming back woods creating grasslands. Trees like this if hit by lightning will burn for days. If there is a LOT of fuel, it get’s pretty spicy in the grasslands.
There are “Islands” of Old Growth Trees, one right over my right shoulder that I was walking in . It is getting very difficult to get up on this ridge these days. I have to plow usually. Drifting is ALWAYS an issue up on the ridges. Mud season is close and mixed with snow days.Mud will keep me off the ridges though. I actually have built the road through the snow up to this ridge top. There is however, no cleared road along the ridge.. Just two track trails……. I’m pretty careful. That’s all about knowing where not to go driving backcountry ridges in mid winter….. 🌲🤔📷
Now I know this is out of season but I am redoing my portfolio to current standards and I’m reposting some from this last summer. I think it’s an interesting break from the mid-winter weather we’ve been having.
It was raining at the time about 30 minutes after sunset. It was overcast. Quite dark thus the long time exposure. I was in my Jeep Grand Cherokee on a large flat ridge top right in the middle of lightning flashes all around me. One of the better places to be during a lightning storm in the “open” is in a car. That is as long as your not touching metal. It also helps if you don’t have long camera lenses sticking outside your open window….. oh wait lolol..
There are two ways of doing this. If it is very dark, set your camera on a stabile tripod in a dry area. Take 25 second time exposures at ISO 200 and f11 to start with… No definite formula here…. You will have to tweek some to see what comes out. Or use an external “lightning trigger” to snap the camera as the bolt touches off. Set your camera near or at ISO 200 F11 and 1/4 second. Your settings will vary based on lighting.
The trick here to get a full frame (not a crop) image was to watch the storm and figure out where the bolts were consistently hitting. Then you just point the camera into that area and wait lolol. Lightning Triggers are not necessary with a time exposure.
This MesoCyclone was Veiling the full Moon. Enough to catch the stars visible to my naked eye. Using a 20 second time exposure, some lightning flashed during the interval. Details in the clouds that are seldom to a camera pointing at the full moon. Most you see are fakes or composites. Time exposures over a second tend to overexpose the full moon badly. Even a moon that was unveiled. Limitation of the technology.
Straddling South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana, this rotating storm was around 100 miles across. Containing the energy of an atom bomb expended over it’s life.
The view I had of this storm was perfect enabling me to photographed it. I was up in the higher backcountry for almost 2 hours with 6 different camera lens combinations from before sunset to well into Astronomic twilight under the full moon. Being backcountry means any light on the terrain is ambient from the flash and the moon/stars. No other man made light sources in view from the highest mountain top around kind of backcountry.
Various colors are way saturated which is what time exposures do. I actually really dampened down the purples that were native in the camera’s software in this image. 20mm lens, cropped in a bit. I wouldn’t go over 20 seconds with a 20mm as longer would have blurred the starts. That time varies with the focal length of the lens so look it up on google lol.
This ranks as one of my personal favorite images of the year. There are a few others….🤔 Taken Mid Summer 2019. 2×3 aspect.
Fog Bank Rolling In : a little summer green for your Winter doldrums..
The cloud bank on top of this landscape ladder is a layer literally hugging and slowly flowing over that back ridge. It appeared obvious that it would eventually get to us. The back cloud bank is the 4000 feet tall Red Hill’s under the slowly moving blanket. If I’d had a time lapse on my rig, (I didn’t have mine with me 😔). I never worry about the little things though lol. That morning was sunny and clear but when this eventually rolled over us, the day went totally grey.
The whiter layer of clouds, the leading edge still trapped in the LIttle Powder River Valley 400 feet below. It took about an hour for it to climb the hundreds of feet up the ridge to my position from the valley. Lots of Rungs on this landscape ladder.
I’ll be configuring my new backcountry photography vehicle all week. Hopefully I can get back in the field more after removing all my photo gear from my old Jeep Grand Cherokee’s cubby holes last month. My new Ford F-150 Raptor has a big more storage than the jeep. The new rig is more purpose build for backcountry photography/access. It’s very agile and should be able to go anywhere I need it to up here in the borderlands. It’s longer than my last rigs so I’ll try not to high center it. I’ve never been stuck up here in 2 decades…. yet. 😜
Composite. This is a really wide angle three telephoto image composite (left, center, right). Triplet.
I just realized I hadn’t posted a windmill for some time. All you junkies out there might be having a little withdrawal. So I thought I’d throw this in as a post. Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill has jumped over the setting sun with intent to keep it under his control. Little does he know that the wise old sun will just sneak out the back door lolol. Just a snippit of the continuing adventures of the “Pete” Brothers for their loyal followers. Don’t let your mother know you look at things like this… Just saying 😜😀
When the air is full of light snow and other ice AND you can see the sun, hang on. You never know what kind of atmospheric effects your going to get. I go up the hill sometime just hoping the sun will come below the snowing cloud deck. With this much moisture in the air, only the red light makes it through all the ice. This was a while ago when we had fresh snow. Currently there is ice everywhere on the ground from a few warm days. Thick crusts with slick surfaces. The footing is treacherous.
We just missed a big storm this week which went to our south and east. I’d like to see some more snow but I suppose I should be careful what I ask for up here. We need some more snow however. Moisture in any form up here is usually a good thing. The timing however in the spring isn’t always good during calving season though 😔
These younger bucks got caught working out for the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Fall Pronghorn Rut. It’s a single elimination tournament with winner take all. These bucks get along most of the year. They may even hang out “down on the corner” together. But this is as close to a full blown organized
So on an overcast Monday afternoon “Down Yonder by the fence line” was a small dojo formed for the purpose of working out and getting “tuned” for the battles to come. These guys were not not yet playing for keeps. The bigger bucks usually take it easy on the smaller males training/ramping up to the rut .It can really be violent when Pronghorn Bucks go at it. This appears more casual for the camera I suspect. This of course is a game trail camera capture from late in the fall (Fall was on a Tuesday this year). From this location in the past, dozens of various wonderful candid captures of both deer and Pronghorn occurred.
All the Pronghorn are off ranch at the moment. They all migrated about 30 miles south to the THunderbasin National Grassland. Pronghorn herds numbering in the hundreds. I had a Old Pronghorn Buck I named “Grunt” that stayed over winter several years but he’s not here this year. He either migrated with the others or in in much higher and greener pastures by his passing. I miss him as I could get very close to him as he was tolerant of me as an antelope can be tolerant.
This view of a BigHorn Mountains Landscape Ladder was taken a week ago as this posts. Th grassy remote ridgetop I was on, gives way to the Little Powder RIver Valley. The next ridge is the Red Hills backed by the 13000 foot high peaks of the core of the BigHorn Mountain Uplift. The Powder RIver Basin between the Mountains any my ranch pretty much ends at my ranch. I’m living right on the edge between the Wyoming Black Hills and the Powder River basin. Just west of my ranch, dinosaur fossil Bearing rock that is older than the Big Horn Uplift dive under the sediments worn off the BigHorn Mountains.
Our Ranch is as high topograpically above the Little Powder River Valley Floor as the dark 40 mile distant ridge. It allows me to see the peaks at this 130 mile distance. Weather windows to the BigHorns have been plentiful this year unlike previous ones. The sun is currently setting well south of these peaks from my vantage point at the moment. I won’t see it set over the big V notch until next spring again. The sun will continue to set a little more south each day until December 21’st. Then t starts to rise and set a little further north each day until the Summer Solstice.
I try to be very in tune to such things as my daily photographic activities take into account moon rise, sunsets with the time of year. Angles of sunrise and sunset are critical to where I go these days. Weather has the greatest impact of course.
Lightning Bolt Cloud to Ground is a 2 feet x 3 feet image in full size. Now I know this is out of season but I am redoing my portfolio to current standards and I’m reposting some from this last summer. I think it’s an interesting break from the early winter weather we’ve been having.
It was raining at the time about 10 minutes after sunset. This was our version of twilight that late summer 2019 evening. I was in my Jeep Grand Cherokee on a large flat ridge top right in the middle of lightning flashes all around me. One of the better places to be during a lightning storm is in a car. That is as long as your not touching metal. It also helps if you don’t have long camera lenses sticking outside your open window….. oh wait lolol..
There are two ways of doing this. If it is very dark, set your camera on a stabile tripod in a dry area. Take 25 second time exposures at ISO 200 and f11 to start with… You will have to tweek some to see what comes out. Or use an external “lightning trigger” to snap the camera as the bolt touches off. Set your camera near or at ISO 200 F11 and 1/4 second. Your setting s may vary but now too far out.
The trick here to get a full frame (not a crop) image was to watch the storm and figure out where the bolts were consistently hitting. Then you just point the camera into that area and wait lolol.
Here’s where I spent the other evening at sunset. The Borderlands are such that when I take a photo east and or west, I’m usually having parts of both Montana (distance) and Wyoming (close) in the image.
There were small storms in the area spitting either snow or rain depending on your elevation at the time. I waited to go out until the sun was just above the “sun slit” under the cloud deck. Watching what is going on has saved me a lot of time here and there lol.
This is a nice little isolated lake not far from a road but you really can’t see it from the road. Most travelers up here drive 100 yards from this and never see it. Spring fed of course I’m sure it was seep 100 years ago. So the ranches damed it up along with many other ponds decades ago.
“Thunderhead Lit Up Trailing Stars” is a time lapse photo on a tripod set up under my deck. All the lighting you see is ambient inside our “compound” from various yard lights mulitiplied over 10 seconds…. The storm is a 500 microsecond lightbulb flash giving me lit clouds from within. As the storm travels, it’s leaving stars in it’s wake in the pure dark sky. Got em!
This is not a composite in fact the bright star is actually a planet… Jupiter. The flash was instantaneous but the stars needed the time exposure and the results fit like a glove📸. About 10 seconds at ISO 300 with f6 (ish) should get you here if you have a tripod, and a storm that leaves stars in it’s wake… Hint…. Longer than about 12 seconds gives you streaky stars…..
Here is a flat light shot from Oct 1 as it was still snowing…Heavy Wet Snow on Trees that sill have leaves is not ideal. Natures pruning shear hard at work. There were lots of branches from this but surprisingly nothing big. The 70-80 mph wind storm we had a month ago already took out the weak ones lolol.
All melted off now…. snowed since and probably again when this posts.
This really is the Great Pumpkin in the Sky as it is totally unmolested in the digital darkroom as to the face and color. (It is natural and really happened like this) IT was very bright of course which is when everything else is silhouette.
This is called spotlighting and somewhere there was sunlight illuminating the landscape like a beam from above. Everywhere else was getting dark fast from the overcast and setting sun.
This is a telephoto shot so your actually looking at a ridge about a mile away and the sun is a bit bigger that the face… The bottom of the sun is in fact the bottom outline of the “mouth” at the top at the tree top where it sat down for a micro-second resting after it’s climb to it’s zenith. It’s been all down hill for about 6 hours but think of all that effort ! Must be tired 🤣
I’ve never had 4 Meadowlarks in one photo before. They are Gathering Ready to Migrate. Several hundred yards down a fence line, if I move closer, they will fly away .
This was taken Oct 1 with the first snow of the 19/20 winter here in the high plains of Wyotana. The Meadowlarks couldn’t find a place to land with 4 inches of wet heavy snow about and were VERY active and singing. Their songs were everywhere. I bet they are gone in a week. 🙁
Photogrpahers notes: The T-posts holding the wire are about 16 feet apart so this is a 60 foot section of fence in low light heavy overcast snowing at the time (look at the fence wood brace post). Tough to get it all in focus with that light. It was a choice between really grainy or something out of focus in the image. I went to freeze motion and deal with the focus later lol. This would make a really good square photo of just the two that are in focus. I wanted to show the gatherings were going on.
A Twister is a Windmills Worst Fear. Here you can see “Sneaky Pete” the windmill Quaking in his boots over this funnels off not far in the distance. He still had the state of mind to photobomb my weather photo though. I have no control over his actions….🤣📸
Three spinners, one photo lol.
This did not touch down but the two funnels rotated about each other for about 30 seconds then disappeared back up into the clouds.
Channeling Bill Paxton the actor (Classic Reference)🤔
In September, the Morning Weather at Sunrise can give me amazing Landscapes just at the end of twilight…. The back country provides my visual tunnels and leading lines, the 180 mile horizon to horizon sky here gives me the other half of the image, the lighting.
This is a “Wonder World” of Photographic subjects up here in the borderlands of Wyoming/Montana