Probably the last serious rainbow of the 2020 was this late “Golden Hour” spectral display a few weeks ago as this posts. The Sun over my shoulder was HEAVILY Smoke Pall filtered giving the marked color cast displayed here. The total lack of blue light being obvious in the refracted spectrum. All of that was absorbed by the smoke. Missing the blue/indio components gives a very odd feeling to the scene live real time. I’ve said before it reminds me of the solar eclipse in 2017 that went through the area. This is certainly one of the more extreme rainbows I’ve ever seen. There will be more of this event as it flows through my workstation.
This capture of course is a long telephoto image right into the left leg of a very tall rainbow. Late day rainbows are closer to a perfect 1/2 of a circle. From the air rainbows are circles with your shadow in the center. On the ground though, your limited to half of the circle at most. But as such sunset rainbows are relatively HUGE compared to mid to afternoon rainbows. Mid-day rainbows are wide but not tall. This one was wide AND tall. This was right at the height of the smoke generation from the west coast fires as seen here almost exactly on the border of Wyoming / Montana. This rainbow’s leg itself spans the actual borderline from my perspective lol. Exactly 1/2 way between the North Pole and the Equator it’s marks the spot.
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.
First of all let me say this was the storm that went over “Devils Tower” about 3 hours later. Traveling about 3 hours later I photographed the “Devils Tower” all white from the hail . This storm made national news I understand though I didn’t see the coverage. I got a bird’s eye view of the center of this huge Mesocyclone. The area of hard precipitation with this storm was at least 20 miles across. A good metaphor to this is a big spinning top with that wedge shaped area of precipitation a down draft from above. It is a huge storm just drifting where it wants to go. Areas under it are going to get “Slathered” by either hail or hard rain or both. Usually sideways from the downdrafts affiliated with such a large storm.
The lightning bolts were at least 40 miles out from my location. I was up much higher on the ridge than the surrounding ground for the perspective. View straight south from “Rattlesnake Hill” over the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch Headquarters. . I’m essentially standing on the Montana / Wyoming border looking straight south.
My time exposure here was only 1.5 second. I’m not sure which bolt went first. It was WINDY from the downdrafts affiliated with that storm. Being on a ridge top only enhances that. I try to stay out from under those lightning area by using telephotos to suck me into the image. I have been surrounded by it before in my younger foolish days. It is intelligent to respect lightning and hail very much from these storms. I will dive for cover as I deem necessary. Safety is a concern.
Lightning AND Rainbows together I have determined are an uncommon capture in the same photos. At least during my time travels lol. I’m thinking I have ONE other recent high resolution digital capture taken staring “Sneaky Pete” the windmill with a rainbow plus a lightning shaft. The storm that produced this scene gave me 1/2 dozen other similar captures that will slowly work their way into my daily published posts.
This was a very small part of a very large Mesocyclone I had been tracking on radar all day. It started down in Casper with it’s track bearing down on us. It JUST missed us by a few miles to our east. I’m sad we didn’t get the precipitation but I’m glad this monster missed us. We have had enough wind damage this year. My best to my friends/neighbors to my east after this storm. We all roll the dice with these big prairie Mesocyclones. Basically they are 100 mile across spinning tops of clouds. Tey have the power of an atom bomb expended during it’s brief lifetime. I have some AMAZING larger wide angle storm views of this storm.
Fortunately there wasn’t TOO much lightning that I saw. The fire danger is high. My lightning triggers liked the light on this particular storm. Some times none of the various triggers I use pick up a bolt. I might have three cameras set up on three different camera triggers and only one will take it. Go figure. I endorse no camera lightning triggers as of yet in my professional career. Some bolts are captures such as this.
This was a very Late afternoon “Golden hour”. Clouds all illuminated of the west side of a huge growing Mesocyclone. The Sun had already set where I was standing even on a high hill top. . The lower part of this cloud is in the shadow of the horizon as well. I was miles out on that high ridge from the homestead watching a huge storm in the distance when I noticed the “hat” on the top. The amount of energy tied up in these massive spinning monsters is amazing. The 60 mile across storm was growing stronger as it traveled away from me. It was visibly growing taller as well.
The Science of this:
Pileus Clouds are also called “cap” clouds or “Scarf” clouds. They typically are short lived. Usually the climbing cumulonimbus absorbs them. Only occasionally seen only over strong updrafts. THe change caused a dew point tripping phase change. Flashing vapor to condensation droplets. The appropriate changes in either Temp/pressure/humidity can cause the condensation.
Personally I’ve only seen them once before. I didn’t have a camera with the legs to reach out and capture their essence. Rule number one of Photography is (Have a camera). Rule number one subsection 2 (1.2) is have the right lens on the camera to get close to what you want in the frame. This was a 1200mm on a full frame mirrorless Sony Alpha 7R4. This is about 10 miles distant.
Yup, it was a little windy for this capture. The problem with time exposures (low light generally with a punctuated flash during the click) is that wind shakes everything. I was sitting in my vehicle with an open window with metallic objects sticking out. All while next to a tall metal object on a hill top. Perfect place to take lightning photos I’m thinking… What could possibly go wrong? 😀😜👀📸
SO: Windmill Wednesday… Windmill Junkies Unite: 🤘 “Sneaky Pete” the windmill risking all to jump into my Lightning image. Hazardous work environment for the young guy.
Blurring a windmill is easy even in a soft breeze. You just have to leave the shutter open long enough to allow the blades to move during the exposure. This is complimentary to lightning as the longer the shutter is open, the more likely it is that you’ll catch a bolt. I also use lightning triggers but they only initiate the click. It’s me that sets the camera up. Lightning I tend to close the camera down to light and do 5 second exposures with ISO and Fstop set dependant on ambient light. This storm was fairly dark so I used ISO 200, 5 seconds and f22. Your setting will vary. Wind will keep your shutter MUCH shorter than 5 seconds. More like .25 seconds. This is where those lightning trigger gadgets come in very handy. Set to ISO 100, 1/25th, F18 and start there with a trigger. Hope this helps… Lightning is tough trying to anticipate it. You might get 1 in 10 flashes If your very quick…
This is the second finished capture of 3 from this sunrise stage show. The play started at 5:15 AM when I had a 5:36 appt at sunrise. There was very little indication at my homestead that this would be such a show. Taking in the information from a remote ridge lined camera I have looking east, I jumped into “Clever Girl” my Ford F-150 Raptor and started gaining altitude. A sunslit window to the light was showing…might have amounted to nothing…. I never know for sure if I’m wasting my time before I commit to an hour at least watching sky plays…
Our ranch is on a high ridge but I have to climb higher ridges to actually see sunrise. There is a 400 foot high series of parallel ridges to my east which effectively hides my east view. I see 130 miles to the west and 50 miles both north and south from my homestead. I see about 1000 yards east without climbing to the top of Ridge 1 to the east. The actual time AT my homestead I see the sun is about 1/2 hour later than what ever time the sun actually rises.
The Snow squall that was ongoing at the time (taken the first week of May). We are used to a late frost with the “last” frost being May 15th…This posting on May 20th, 2020… A very wet cold weather descended on us after this sunrise. Certainly the completely overcast (thickly so) cloud deck was quickly obscuring the solar disk at this capture. There was less than a minute of light left before the day turned to a gloomy lack of interesting light morning. Wet and rainy for a week thank god as we need the moisture.
This is an 90 degree tall image. Almost straight up is top frame. HUGE tall pillar and pretty durn good dynamic range in this capture. To look into the furnace but still be able to make out the landscape ladder is extensive DR. Most cameras would show that as a black silhouette. Try it :).
Sun pillars are shafts of reflected light. Ice reflected spotlights as it were shooting generally 90 degrees up or down to the horizon. This is BY FAR the tallest pillar I’ve ever seen.
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 REALLY big. This is due to a 12mm lens wide lens.This is not quite 2 times again the subtended angle/width of view afforded by your normal vision at around 55mm would.
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. Big oriented plates of ice positioned at a high angle are required for this particular phenomena. The crystals are all flat 6 sided plates. These fall the same way/orientation due to atmospheric resistance and their shape. Calm falling air is necessary. The high tilt is unusual. I’ve read sunpillars 5-10 degrees tall is not unusual. (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 ).
Living in a remote secluded ranch for 20 years, I’m sort of used to isolation. Many of you are battling this “stuck at home base” period of our lives feeling alone. If you feel you are battling the elements here, you know, swimming upstream, up the creek without a paddle or are just plain isolated, I understand trust me. There are not enough hours in the day as it is up here, just add more on top lolol……
To keep my equilibrium, I try to put my world into perspective daily then isolate each problem I come upon placing it into it’s own little box. Take those boxes off the pile one at a time to deal with it. Funny how some boxes disappear on their own… This lovely flower, at the prime of it’s labors, covered by an overnight chill and snow trying to kill it. Just one little box in it’s life. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. 👀
The ability to shrug off these burdens that we usually put on our own back is a learned skill. It’s easier to sit back and analyze arm chair quarterback others but we sometimes drift to our own foibles under this assault around us. That is a mistake and causes depression. I find it’s the second guessing that causes the most stress in life. Regret, buyers remorse…etc. So I try like heck not to do it. Worrying about something that has past is a waste of energy. The Flower took the insult shrugging it off knowing that it would be warmer later. The earth relenting to the innate ability of the species to know when to hibernate and when to grow. Like most things that seem terrible as they are happening. The tulip somehow understood the melting snow and the warmth would be coming that morning.☯
“May you live in interesting times. ” variously attributed to: Chinese Curse? Austen Chamberlain? Frederic R. Coudert? Joseph Chamberlain? Diplomatic Staff? Albert Camus? Arthur C. Clarke? Robert F. Kennedy? Hillary Rodham Clinton?
Always Photobombing, “Sneaky Pete” the windmill graces my landscapes. I have no control over his actions but he seems to get into my landscapes a lot doesn’t he? 😜📷
This from early last spring. Green Grass is about a month away from the highlands at the time this posts. If you currently have growing grass, appreciate it under your feet lolol. By Mid May we are past the point of frost (mostly). I’ve seen snow in every month of the year living in Wyoming for the last 30 years. There is no promise after May 15th it won’t frost again. We had Lilacs blooming on the 4th of July last year. Most of you have lilacs in March and April latest I suspect.
Fully involved back show skies in front (sunset over my left shoulder) where JUST the top of the windmill is lit up, is all about timing. The shadow that is covering me is of the ridge 40 miles to my rear. The sunset was veiled by this deep weather system . Parts of the longest traveled red rays made their way between the lower bluish layer. All the way through to under light the much higher red/orange layer of clouds above. Backshows are well worth taking photos of if you can remember to turn around and look at them. About every 3 or 4 minutes I turn around and glance behind me while watching sunsets.
I was checking stock tanks the other day. We had just enjoyed 4 days of overcast foggy AND windy conditions, all below freezing. There was a lot of moisture in the air freezing on what ever it contacted. Where ever there are disruptions in air flow, Hoar frost forms under these conditions. These are 3 inch long feathers which rank among the largest I’ve seen before in person. The tank water is flowing ground water. It’s 50 degrees versus the 20 degrees or lower of the surrounding colder dry air. You can watch the water vapor stir off the top surface of the tank in calm wind.
Here it attached to the thick rubber Equipment tire’s cut edge. These Coal Mine Truck Tires wore out, time to repurpose. Cost maybe 12 grand or more new. I bought one recently installed for 700 bucks. The thick rubber tire is laid down on prepared ground. Powdered concrete under the center drain PVC pipe already in place. This seals the tank upon filling the first time. These tanks will last a century and are a one time installation for me. They would be virtually impossible to hurt. Your truck would bounce off of them if you ran into it. Might break the seal lolol. Occasionally one will spring a leak, just drop some powdered concrete over the hole and fill it up with water will usually patch it. Repurposing is a ranching tradition.
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 🤔📷