Sunset Pillar Skyshow Triptych (3 – 20×20 inch images. )
Sun pillars are shafts of light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon.
I’ve seen them below the sun many times as well. They form on ice crystals in the atmosphere. A combination of many many reflections off the large flat face of horizontally falling plate ice crystals. The effect is very similar to any slightly tilted horizontal surface. For instance, water reflect a light source (usually the sun) and spread it out vertically. This one is pretty big. This is close to a 24mm image which is about 1/2 again the angle than your normal vision at 55mm.
The Physics explains it of course but the bigger they are, the rarer they are. The maximum extent of the pillar is about twice the maximum tilt of the plate crystals. For this Phenomena to occur, big oriented plates of ice at a high angle are required. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates. These fall the same way due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read that 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. I bet this is 40 degrees tall if not 45 degrees. This is a very big image wide and high. (I’d have to look at the meta data and do the math. It certainly seemed big to me at the time (click click click etc ).
Sheep Herders Cairns from a day that Sheep Roamed this country more than a few years back. I find these piles of flat sandstone on hill tops here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana. Literally found in the middle of nowhere typically miles from the closest inhabited ranch. Somebody spent a lot of time gathering flat sandstone from far and wide. You see sheep wander the hills and herders would stay with them to protect them. They had some spare time.. The stone cairns were markers. They marked places to meet, places to drop supplies or a sign post marking borders..
The ridge tops are the highways of the backcountry. While forested ridges certainly exist, long grassy ridges generally cleared of pine by past fires provided easy walking for the Indigenous Americans. There is a documented “Clovis” tool site within a 20 minute radium of my place. I’ve never found Clovis artifacts on my place as of yet though I do find man made stone tools. I wouldn’t call them common up here on the high ridges. Only hunting camps were summer inhabited in this country. It is too high and too dry to sustain population very long. We do find “TeePee” rings now and again. Both springs by my homestead have teepee rings about them. Summer quarters this spot was.
I’m not sure If I could have found a flatter light than this. Occasionally I’ll look at a heavily veiled sun with no colors in the scene and instantly start with high F-stop close / far perspective anyway. This one was worth the effort. It was windy and cold up there. The bunch of grass in the mid-distance testifies to this.
The trip to get this (and other) images from this time line was memorable to me. I left the house around 6am well over an hour before sunrise. It had snowed 6 inches flat with zero wind. Yes I said, zero wind. It was a Sunday morning so traffic was non-existent on the backcountry road dozens of miles from the nearest highway. Every path was trackless until I drove that way. The back of the Jeep covered by 1/2 inch of hard snow crust from the drive in the powder. The tail lights visible as neon through the white translucent shroud. Everything was bathed in an icy blue/cyan cast over the snow. A pastel pink soaked the sky.
From my perspective I was alone without another living human for miles in all direction. The sky opened up for me at sunrise.
Worried I was the cloud cover would not relent it’s hold on the light passing through. Clouds ultimately are gate keepers of my work either allowing me to chase light or keeping me cloistered behind my computer lol. Fortunately, snow depth wasn’t a problem as it was flat. Sub-zero snow is very dry and powdery. It was like driving through flour. Mid-winter snow storms can be cold lolol.
Old Wooden Tower AERMotor Windmill heads were an expensive investment to the rancher back in the 30’s. A wooden tower was the cheap way to go. Wood does decay over 50 – 100 years out here. Lack of much rain is the reason. We are considered semi arid here, almost desert. There are NOT many left standing.
Location: somewhere near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).
Well it’s time to start the gold mine because I know there’s more that one “pot o’ gold there’. I’ve seen numerous rainbows on that ridge…. Just saying… I’ve got the entrance all engineered out and ready to get the timber for. I figure if this isn’t a pretty durn close location for that gold mine, I don’t know where is. I wonder if Amazon delivers timber for mines? I’m sure the UPS driver wouldn’t mind.
Running with it
Microscopic gold is actually mixed in with the Hell Creek Sand. Tons of it on my ranch. You’d go broke mining it but it’s there. The term “Diffuse” applies to the tiny particles of gold. After all, all things end up in the sea. This ground is built of sediment temporarily paused. Stopped between stutter steps to the ocean. Now gone mountains west of us provided the sand, transported eventually to be laid down here now hardened to bedrock. (Mountains eroded long before the Big Horns rose. Those eroded mountains spread as sand across the continents surface as Hell Creek/Lance. Those ancestral mountains are long since history. But their substance remains in transit to the sea along with all the “Whiskey” I’ve ever swallowed.😜 As I say, all things end up there. w
What I’ve done here is take a very long lens and zoom up on the right leg of a particularly well lit rainbow. It was a ways out anyway as this is a 1200mm lens about about a mile distant from the lens. Rainbows WAY out there are a requirement for this kind of image. Rainbows are infinitely movable as you change your position to the sun. All rainbows are on the other side of the sky from the sun since they are a refracted light phenomena.
Location: Biss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)
At 40 miles distant from my camera, the full sized 50 foot Pine Trees seem like brush on the far ridge. The Top of the “Red Hill’s clear across the Little Powder RIver Valley. You MIGHT be able to see a human waving at you standing on that ridge. So at 40 miles, it’s 211,000 feet to the mountains. Amazingly we can see a 50 foot high tree. CRUSHING perspective here.
The atmospheric Window was wide open between here and that ridge but on the other side of that window was a slatted shade to the sun. The Shade I speak of made here of course of cloud bands.. This instantly reminded me of a window blind. Must be an “Anderson” sunset.
There apparently are 2 small sunspots on this sun which were the first after the bottom of the current solar minimum (good google phrases there). There is too much cloud cover to resolve those in this environment. I do have the technology to get good sun/solar face sunspot images. I haven’t seen any for a while lol.
The 20 inch long , 8 pound lens/camera back rig i used for this is somewhat clumsy and slow to bring into play. But to get the sun proportionally this big compared to the ridge at that distance, you have to have a long focal length. Here is a case of bigger IS better 😜🤘📸
Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite 🤘 I’m aware of your addiction so I am working diligently to support your habit. Please don’t let your mother know you look at stuff like this….. 😜
Here “Sneaky Pete” took the full force of a sticky winter snow. He was operating blind with the cover of his sail covered. All the while spinning in the wind overnight.
Mustings on Mid-Winter:
As I type this there is a 5 degree windchill after the current coldest day of the year. It has NOT been a cold year so far here in “Little Siberia”. That “Moniker” was handed down to us. Thee previous owners of the ranch had generations of observations. . They were describing the tendency of this high ridgeline dry ranch. It always has more snow than the surrounding lower ground. Based on 20 years of observation living here, I would whole heartedly agree with their name and statement. It is colder and wetter up here than the surrounding ground in the winter. In the summer it’s a crap shoot as precipitation is usually from spotty mesocyclones moving over. Somebody gets the rain, others don’t. But in the winter, snow systems are usually pretty broadly spread around the region.
Winter ends in May up here. This year it pushed into late late may. Every season has been offset later this year by the current Solar Minimum.. We are just about dead center of the sunspot cycle low. Turn down the furnace and it get’s colder. Go figure 🤔📷