Getting the opportunity to image skies like we have been experiencing of late is once in a lifetime (I hope). I’ve lived in Wyoming for 30 years (10 in Jackson Hole and 20 here in eastern Wyotana. ). I’ve seen wildfire skies from smoke palls before. Never even close to the severity put on display for so many. If you have been living under a rock (not a bad idea these days) of late and haven’t experienced these… don’t. You won’t like it.
There is a very odd feeling associated with living under the plume from major fires up wind for weeks at a time. Having experienced the 2017 total solar eclipse, I have a basis by which to compare. The feeling of the sun dimming is perceptable under both phenomena. As a friend said, “it is like the sun is broken”. Nothing is getting the energy it prefers so even the few plants that are actively growing aren’t storing the sugars they need for the winter. All of the west is under this pall variously through out the last month. Weeks at a time.
The closer you get to the west coast, the worse it gets. There is so much smoke, you can see it from space easily as it whiffs around the globe with the prevailing winds. In a few weeks it will come back around at us from the west again. This will effectively block sunlight and lower the amount of solar radiation we will receive. There are complex relationships involved with local temperatures. I believe the Pall will lower regional temperatures than they would have been without the smoke (duh). Anytime you reflect energy away from the surface, you loose temperature as the sun is the furnace here. Might just be a very cool winter as a result of all this soot in the air. The west coast just put a bit of particulates and CO2 into the air. Forest Management is a good investment.
Seeming oblivious to my presence, this is Jane Doe again munching some tasty morsel off the bone dry ridge top. Her twin fawns I’ve watched growing up this summer are just off frame on either side. She has been a good mother. I actually have unfinished photos of her from last year discovered in my “to do” folder this AM.
This particular evening the three were on Rattle Snake Ridge. The first tall ridge north of our homestead. I was heading up to this high point above them. I stopped a few minutes along the way to enjoy the view of this family gathering. This ridge is a 200 foot high erosional remnant standing above the grassy flats below. The good thing is there is a very firm path that isn’t that the type of ground to turn into mud. Don’t get off the path though lol. There are areas of “Gumbo” bentonitic clay soil around. Driving over such when wet
The mom here is starting a seasonal molt giving her a mottled appearance. This is not mange. This was taken in warm weather so no need for a thick coat just yet. All deer go through this each late summer. IT’s the deer equivalent of a T-shirt. The new hair will grow in quickly and thick. The coming winter is just the wheel spinning around again from my perspective.
Starting with the first ridge about 10 miles down range. That would be the furthest west of the ridges in the Prairie Dog Hills. Between the first ridge and the last ridge here is 25 miles. The moon is a little further away at 1.3 light seconds for light to travel from there to here. That exact number depends on whether the moon is closer or further away in it’s elliptical orbit around the earth. The terms apogee and perigee come to mind to describe the furthest away and closest the moon is to the earth. A difference of about 25,000 miles (significant if your walking).
This particular morning was one of the few I got to work on that months moon’s timeline. I like to have both the moon AND the sun up behind me to get landscapes like this. There are only about 3-4 terminator crossings a month that I can work this kind of scene. Rarely do I see everything cooperating as this to get a wonderful color pallet on a morning landscape. They are usually TOO red for my taste. This is just about right to the lighting several minutes after sunrise. At most I get 15 – 20 minutes of the actual full moon above the horizon coterminously with the sun. A photographer has to work fast. It’s a bad time for batteries to go down lolol.
So I’m walking around the homestead. It was the last of the reasonable summer evenings. A bit cool. By “happenstance” I was carrying a specialized 2 foot long macro lens. It has a ring of LED lights around it’s periphery. This requires I carry an external battery back to run it in my pocket. You can NEVER have enough light to capture bugs with a Macro camera. More light = Deeper field of focus possible. Hand held capture.
Starting out, I was thinking to myself…what’s out tonight? I used the LED at the end of the lens like a flashlight (which is basically is). Looking for “Close and Personal” creatures out in the dark. Fortunately for me, this fully mature Arachnid appeared floating in mid air near an outdoor light. An old friend….. Catching bugs is a good profession. I’m glad this fellow has a job. It’s ventral view of course with it’s spinerette and the “Alien” (ET) pattern on it’s Abdomen lol.
In this Ultra Close up, I’m using a 2x macro and I’m about an inch from it to get this Macro shot. I suspect it was chilling down at the time and a little slow with summer hot nights behind us now. Well fed it looks. I’ve seen the many webs it’s been building all summer. You either love or hate these guys. Enjoy those hairy legs either way.
Taxonomy: (I believe the ID is correct).
Larinioides patagiatus, sometimes referred to as “furrow orb weavers” Family: Araneidae / Genus: Larinioides
Larinioides patagiatus (Clerck, 1757)
These guys get around. Found in: North America, Europe, Turkey, Russia (Europe to Far East), Central Asia.
A second Landscape Perspective this morning. I figure I’m a landscape photographer, I better post a good landscape every now and then lol. This Close / Far capture of the old growth trees about a mile distant, the far ridge at 10 miles with the sun a mere 8 light minutes distant (93 Million Miles).
I LOVE salmon / peach colored skies. In this case it was the smoke between me and the orange source giving what would normally be orange a decidedly grey colorcast. The dirty smoke contrasting the layers of landscape in this multiple ridge environment. I’m standing on ridge one, the sun rises over ridge 5. That’s the first ridge to my east all the way to the last I can see. That last ridge is my effective horizon. I’m not aware of any place high enough for me to see over it short of climbing the big horns. It stands about 200 feet higher than the hill I am on. I have to climb over that ridge to see over it unfortunately. I don’t miss but about 2 minutes of initial sunrise from this position.
Remember when your teacher said you’d use geometry in your lives? I actually do to a degree (pun intended). I have to imagine how this stuff works before I can decide the concept is correct.
Milling about, generally moving a bit to the north, the group was grazing a little. generally they were uneasy but I don’t think it was me they were upset about. I find that groups of these guys are the definition of jumpy lol. This perspective is through a long lens camera sideways. I’m well outside their “line in the sand” that get’s them nervous. I was stopped, engine off. Watching them for about 5 minutes at this point. It was more like they were waiting for something to happen. Maybe me moving on… hard to know.
That last ridge is known as “The Red Hills”. This was taken a few weeks ago as this posts. Still at the very beginning of some lighter smokey days. It got WAY worse later the next day. The normally crystal clear view to the “Red Hill’ turned to haze by the massive fires out west.
Visibility was 10 miles tonight as I worked the smokey sunset again driving ridges in the backcountry. It’s getting close to dense fog kind of visual occlusion as I type this. The air is just plain unhealthy. I’m not sure if “Clever Girl” even likes it. Might have to change the air filter sooner driving around in this forest fire soup. The sun disappeared tonight long before it hit the horizon. The surface smoke totally obscuring the solar disk. It was last seen around “Sneaky Pete” tonight.
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.
Another name is “Crown” Sky. This is the second image I’ve posted from this timeline. This is the widest lens I have. The top of the frame is past straight up (over 90 degrees tall). These “Crepuscular Rays are actually over my head from the horizon. This is a first for me. I’ve never seen one this big before. It literally covered 1/2 of the sky. I figure this is about 1/4th of the sky as it continued over head quite a way.
Unfortunately there were no “Anticrepuscular” rays on the other side of the sky associated with this or I would have done the whole sky as a mosaic dome with 5 or 6 images from this lens. Still this was an awe inspiring display to witness. It lasted a good 1/2 hour too so it’s not like I don’t have options regarding image choices lol. Several hundred clicks were heard in proximity to this event from my place.
The different images each reflect the constantly changing dance of clouds blocking the rays. It’s not rays lighting up the sky, it’s shadows not lighting up part of the sky you note as distinctive. Without the shadow of the cloud tops, you would be looking at a uniformly illuminated smoke screen. That acting like a projector screen from that bright bulb. Otherwise, everything would be lit up . This is all about shadows of that big cloud above the sun.
Old “Sneaky Pete” here has met his match. The environment is even kicking his butt. The air is thicker up here, it’s hard to breath, the sky is under a perma-eclipse. Asthmatics need not apply for a ranching job surrounded by a sea of grass/sage with smoke filling the air. Not an eclipse of the sun by the moon but by Forest Fires. If you’ve missed this enjoyment consider yourself healthier. Visibility was about 8 miles this morning at times. It comes and goes.
I don’t even remember a stretch this long (2 weeks) when I had a “normal” sunset to watch. These images will stretch out over the fall as I have dozens to finish from the startling skies. The very unexpected physics is welcome from a photographic standpoint. I have to clean my lenses more often that is for sure. I find my eye’s are more sensitive than my nose or lungs. It’s hard to take photos of what you can’t see. I found that out taking photos of Comet Neowise. Photography by instinct.
This was actually QUITE a dark Scene. Everything was indeed brown or a shade of red. I’ve seen VERY interesting shadow effects from this that I will work into my publishing schedule. There is SO much red light proportionally that it is actually hard to take a “normal” photo until about mid day. More than a few miles of atmosphere will completely block out the sun. I’ve seen it set into the smoke not the horizon 1/2 a dozen times already.
Watching the Photographer take a photo of the landscape, these two Mule Deer Doe’s were minding their own business. I come along and interrupt their grazing for a minute. Not my intent of course since I was minding my own business too. Driving in the backcountry I randomly run into small groups of creatures great and small. This time, I was more interested in the long landscape in front of me. But consider them and the tree they bracket, as a nice lower border to this composition. Bonus lol. This was a 10 layer landscape ladder just laid out for my enjoyment and now hopefully yours.
“Landscape ladders” are such captures with layer after layer of different color/texture/distance or topography. It’s easy to find a lot of intersecting angles in a landscape but layer on top of layer is desirable to me anyway lol. Of course this is a “Close / Far perspective taken
Late day Golden Hour Lighting predictably gave this image a markedly red colorcast as was true to the scene. I take great care to get the main sun colors properly weighted toward the longer wavelengths when appropriate. I’ve more or less categorized they types of evening light in my own head how. It is just a matter of verbalizing it now lol. I find that knowing and teaching are two different animals.
The August Full Moon Setting over two ridges and a cloud band. I’m low down in the drainage looking upward over parallel ridges. The first a mile out. The second ridge is about 7 miles out with the cloud bank further down range. The moon is a bit further out there past that. So thus a 4 layers landscape. That cloud bank was rising rapidly to cover the moons face.
The very early daylight or late twilight depending on which second this was taken. Very close to sunrise. This was the last image from this timeline. As soon as the clouds rose to cover the moons face, I was done. IT was a very subdued color with an obvious bias toward a red colorcast. All of the color on the clouds also hitting the light parts of the landscapes in the foreground. To the best of my ability, this is exactly as I saw it. Such subtle tones are rare at sunrise or sunset where intensity is usually the result. Only during twilight or smokey days do I see such lighting.
This one was a tough one to get right. As an avowed photorealist, I try REALLY hard to reproduce here the scene I saw there. The scene was somewhat dark as the sun was Just being exposed by the falling horizon. A slight ridge to the east blocks out the earliest light, I was in shadow taking the photos being a LOT lower than that far butte.
Looking into the furnace is a hazardous thing to do with most cameras. I don’t suggest pointing a camera with a telescopic lens into the sun unless you really know what your doing. This was very bright of course going to places the human eye can only glance into for fractions of a second. More and your doing damage to your eyes. Don’t…I use gear that is good with this.
The old growth pines on this ridge, married a long time living together. Roots intertwining for well over 100 years. Sharing the same ground will tend to put everybody on the same page. The metaphor here leads to the conclusion that common interests exceed differences. The trees work together blocking the wind and gathering the light most of the time. Here they are cooperating with me making a nice frame for my sunset that evening. The have both survived decades of grass fires burning to their base. Survivors both.
The Yellow surrounding the sun is where the term “Golden Hour” comes from. What I’m after is the smooth yellow to blue gradient here with every color variation in between the two end members. Needless to say this is a wide lens involved to fit all of this in the frame lol.
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.
Finding windows through vegetation is a matter of either finding them randomly or making them for use later. This tree I cleared out some limbs months ago to make a slot just for this week. Fitting the sun into the slot is a whole different matter. First of all as the sun is rising it moves to the right. As it moves to the right, I have to move to the left. Tripods don’t work for this. Handheld will work just fine.
Topography is my master. To align such a vision, I have to be at just a certain x, y, z coordinate at a certain time. The earth has to cooperate with me to give me a place to stand. I have maybe a minute to work scenes like this as the earth will drop away and the sun would be hidden by the horizon. If the ground I’m on climbs, the sun would have to climb out of the bushes it’s resting on. It’s already climbing for the day. Here I caught it being lazy resting before the arduous climb to the it’s zenith that day.
That morning was cool for a early august sunrise. Some morning are in the low 50’s up this high. Nothing like the days I lived in Jackson at 6200 feet where we actually could routinely get some snow in the summer. Not so much down here at 4000 feet in Wyotana.
When you watch a mother deer with her fawn, you can see the love. They interact constantly. Once the novelty of me being within telephoto range has passed, natural behavior starts to return. No more suspicion of the intrusion into their world remains as I watch the mother reach over and nuzzle her baby. I’m not so sure the fawn was stressed in the least. I’m thinking the mother was reassuring herself that the fawn was OK. This was at least 5 minutes after I started photographing them. I’m doubting she was very stressed as the photo session continued for at least another 1/2 hour. I drove off leaving them approximately in the same place as when I drove up. I can usually do this kind of work without chasing them off.
If I scare animals (bad plan). I don’t get to photograph them very long and then only their backsides as they run away. So stealth, patience and don’t push are my techniques.
These guys way laid me on the way to photograph a sunset. I often randomly encounter wild animals on my trips around the ranch. I have been known (rarely) to go up a hill with a FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) high resolution thermal viewer looking for body heat. It is rare I LOOK to find animals to photograph. They almost always just appear during my daily chores and photographic trips. I consider myself a landscape photographer even as all these critter photos grace my portfolio.
This was a lucky random encounter while coming back from photographing the sunrise. I almost never see these guys so it’s a rare capture for me. About 5:49, the sun had just risen. Positioned perfectly with the sun behind me. The Fox had to strain to see into the bright sun. The wind was blowing toward me from him so I was a ghost. Pretty much he knew something was there. He was checking out the apparition in the glare.
The Red Fox / Grey fox debate is for another post down the road. I “Believe” this is a red fox. I can’t seen the tail tip. It’s not an insignificant discussion since the Grey and Red Fox are different Genera of Canid entirely. Not just two different species. Vulpes vulpes is the scientific name if it is a Red Fox. Lots of information out there.
At the same time 30 feet to the right was a spotted mule deer fawn watching this guy walk across the pasture in front of him. I was too close to get them both in the same frame. I would have LOVED to have had them walk up and touch noses lolol. I’d have gotten it . I bet it’s happened before. Neither species has anything to fear from the other.
These guys are low frequency sound specialists. They can hear rodents scurrying/digging about underground or under snow. I consider them an asset keeping down the numbers of rodents. I’ve never had a fox take a domerstic bird out of my barnyard. I’ve cared for a flock over 18 years. No losses by Fox that I’m aware of. They really don’t like my electric fence. They are however, watering in one of my stock tanks though so I’ll probably see him again. All my Game Trail Cameras of these guys are blurred. They tend to move along.
One of the hardest moon images to capture with any consistency is the haze you can see around the moon in some cases. A thin veil of clouds, more of mist obscures the face. Secondarily, it leaves a smooth gradient of haze from it’s fuzzy proximal colors to the periphery. I can think of only a few dozen times I’ve gotten an image this good from any camera. This is the Sturgeon Moon. Sept 2020.
The difficulty comes from the high dynamic range. It’s like getting a star field in the same image as a properly exposed moon. It’s rare rare rare to be able to do it inside the camera in one shot. Usually they are composites. No one can cheat the way light physics works. Optical sensor chips used in the high end Sony Alphas are pretty adept at covering high dynamic range requirements. I think it really has as much to do with the particular lighting conditions the photographer encounters.
If your interested, this was done with pretty good terrestrial glass. Should have used astronomic glass. Look very carefully at the right lower edge of the moon. See a faint red line? No matching line on the left side. (bear in mind I’m VERY OCD about color). That artifact is caused by “Chromatic Aberration” in an otherwise excellent lens. It’s a good thing for you fellow students to learn about. Google “Chromatic Aberration Lenses”. Think a 2000 dollar lens should do this…? humm..
“Grey Catbird” is the common name. Scientists call it Dumetella carolinensis. What a brazen little fellow this one was. Thrashers tend to be a bit forward with their behavior being a bit cocky so to speak. Medium robin sized birds with an attitude.. They possess a very harsh “mew” creaky call. Usually they deliver their complaints from thick bushes. This one was fairly forward. His presence to be well known was his goal. They are mimics picking up other species calls too. It is unique in North America with it’s uniform dark gray color with the black cap.
I have never seen a bird be so little afraid of our cats. To the point of landing near a group of sleeping cats on cushions and raising the dead with complaints. The ranches barn cats are very adept with birds. This seemingly suicidal all grey entry in our world just didn’t care. It’s been around for weeks now and still bothers the cats who I think try their best to ignore them. He obviously wasn’t scared of the big one eyed photographer. All the while advancing. Pointing a 28 inch long lens at him.
Talk about eyelashes. You can not see them on it’s right eye but it’s left eye’s lashes through the open beak says it all lolol. This fellow has made me laugh more times than I can count. He is predictable and consistent in his behavior toward anything in his domain. We just are staying here by his permission I’m pretty sure.
I finally get to the top of the first ridge to our east. Reaching the top, a vision unfolded around me. The telephoto crushing the distances as I turn toward the apparent shooting star in the sky. The illusion of motion fancifully provided by a cloud bank. That alone shadowing the low atmospheric ice to the left. Thus providing the obvious shooting star the proper debris tail. I actually took some rare play time and made an Inverse color negative of this resembling a remarkable comet. I might work with that image as art down the road. Talk about a naked eye comet lololol. I suggest Ray Bans™. You might remember all the Comet NeoWise images lately on your newsfeed. Well this is Comet NotSoWise. I just love it when my lenses come across natural illusions.
I by experience expose the highlights correctly and dig the details in the shadows out within the digital dark room. If you expose the landscape properly, the highlights are WAY over exposed and there is no recovering image detail that is washed out… gone… It’s easy to take a photo of the sky just like it is but unless you have a way to differentially bring out the exposure in the dark areas, you have a dark silhouette for a landscape. No camera made today I can afford would take this raw. The highlights are exactly as the camera recorded them but the formerly black landscape had all this detail hidden within the data. A program like Photoshop™ and or Lightroom™ is a really important addition to your tool kit.
Boy this is a big one. This is as they say, just the tip of this weather iceberg. Just as dangerous here with 90 percent of it out of view hidden behind a veil of it’s own doing. It’s an odd perspective, the horizon only looks tilted as your looking at a climbing ridge from left to right. The storm itself is horizontal. And did I mention BIG. 👀
The serious weather looks to be around 30 miles off. Approximately the storm is 80 miles across. I’d LOVE to have cell service up here to get live radar but that hasn’t happened yet. We are pretty remote.. It’s really handy be be able to look through these walls of clouds to see what they are doing. Not having in truck radar images is why I got caught off guard by that damaging hail storm hitting us hard a few weeks ago. I’m working these storms based on what I see. I came in from the ranch land expecting a hail shaft to be coming in but didn’t know 3 inch hail was incoming in it or that it would last for 1/2 an hour. Stalled storm…
Being Anywhere in front of these rotating masses is not a good place to be. Under the wall cloud all sorts of bad things can happen. To the rear of the storm the hail will get progressively bigger. Down draft straight winds just add to the pleasure of watching 3 inch hail bash most things to smithereens. We had 6 digit damage here on ranch in July from one of these.
With the energy of a small Atom Bomb, powered by solar energy. If you by happenstance to be directly under the business end of a stalled version of this, your going to have a big rain. We had 4 inches in 45 minutes. Sheet wash off the hill behind my house was ankle deep. I changed my landscaping due to that storm to redirect that potential wash hazard.
Layers of ridges with 10s of miles between. Long landscape ladder perspectives that climb the gradients of color step by step are wonderful when they magically appear. Alpenglow caused by atmospherically suspended ice particles is the glow. That caused by said ice along with dust and particulates effect on the incoming sunlight winter or summer. This captures late hour with just about 5 minutes left in the day, the light is markedly golden thus the “Golden Hour” moniker. I work the golden hour anytime.. Constantly impressive, Golden Hour Photoshoots. That is done often up in this country.
I call this “working the edge of the sun”. If you do it incorrectly with what ever zoom lens your using, your going to get lens flares. Long shafts of light artifacts from stray light in your lenses. Patience and experimentation is necessary to figure out your lens. Remember not to use a DSLR type camera or a small sensor Mirrorless unless it’s rated for into the sun work. It’s tough on sensors (melts spots in them) if you point a camera incorrectly set up letting in too much light. Note that melted spots in your image chip is not a good thing unless your into abstract art through the lens. If you learn nothing else from this, don’t blind yourself with a DSLR camera pointing it at the sun. If you don’t know the difference between DSLR and mirrorless cameras, you should google and learn so you know.
It’s a challenge to do photography at the edge of the operational limits of your camera. Just don’t trash your camera back lol. I’ve done hundreds of these with the Sony Alpha 7R 2,3 and 4 platforms.. Those are full frame chips all. That fact disperses the heat from the sun over a much larger area. Those will take it. I suspect most full frame cameras will. 📷
Some tasty morsel in front of him, this velvet antlered Whitetail buck considers the possibilities. Boy I wish we had this grass now. Fully headed, green, what a concept. Not any of this around here now except the deer eating straw with few heads. Yuccas are still providing some flowers locally. My deer may move off their normal range because of the crushed grass from the 2-3 inch hail storm for 1/2 an hour we had a few weeks ago. That plus drought plus grasshoppers have changed the landscape a tad this summer. You can tell it’s a white tail buck as the facial patterns are all different than a mule deer and the ears don’t look like a hairy mules ears. Whitetail are way more gracile than Mule Deer.
This wash drains about 300 acres (1/2 square mile) of ranchland. I believe water has recently up to his knees running in this based on high water marks in the gully. Flash floods are a real thing with all these Mesocyclones lately floating around the high prairie lands. The Wyotana borderlands east of here get’s it worse than we do. After all, there is a map location called Lightning Flats. It got it’s name for a good reason. While Tampa Florida may hold the title for most Lightning ever, Lightning Flats will give it a run on a good day. 😄
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana) (Note: Game Trail Camera Capture)
It’s dark I know. It WAS dark at the time. This was a MASSIVE spinning Mesocyclone over our heads with the curved apron off of the tower in the turning around the corner. I would estimate this was over three states of Montana/ South Dakota and Wyoming. South Dakota is 90 miles to the left of frame. The business end of this was to the left of the frame about 1/2 way to South Dakota. Long Story Short, this was a big one… ⛈
This part of the storm was collapsing and loosing some of the input into the system. These big systems rotate broadly around like a small hurricane. They have some really serious consequences at times if your at the wrong place of the storm. This unique view from under this monster was a matter of luck or unluck depending on where you are. Residents in the high plains roll the dice each time one of these fellows moves overhead. We just had a serious hail storm damaging many outside surfaces on the ranch.
Hail, Dry Lightning, tornados, straightline winds are all dangers from these. We had 4 inches of rain in less than an hour about a decade ago. It was called a 500 year rain. I personally suspect they are more common than that but there are no rain gages over most of this country lol. Hard to measure a storm that sits still for an hour dumping rain over one spot when the spot is only a few miles across. This country is thinly populated with weather stations that report to the Natl’ Weather service. If you google DW-1087… pick the Bliss Ranch reference and you will see weather conditions here on the ranch.
The wind was very low but the 30 second time lapse here showed clearly any water movement with the slight blur. It was pitch black with the only light being the Comet Neowise and the star field to the north. I couldn’t have set up my tripod close to this pond if I wanted to. It’s hard to find standing water high enough these days to do this. I had to travel to make this happen. I worked this comet for 3 hours this night traveling backcountry under “fairly” low light conditions lolol.
You can clearly see the ion trail tail pointing directly away from the sun . THe chunky particle trial is leaning off to the right on the outside of the race track orbit it’s on. It will be back in about 7000 years so you better enjoy it now lol. By the time this posts it will no longer be naked eye. Binocs will work though.
Coincidentally I lined up the light pollution from the town of Broadus Montana 45 miles distant on the horizon. This kind of photography is WAY outside my normal operational envelope. It is REALLY dark out here. I essentially can not see ANYTHING in the camera eyepiece when I do this. Mirrorless cameras do this a little sloppily yet and I’m tempted to use an old DSLR for kicks to compare. Time exposures are tough on so many levels.
This is a Windmill Wednesday after all and I’ve posted several windmills today. I don’t get a lot of double red rainbows. The last of the timeline I think.
As this storm, a member of a train of storms moving up a squall line just to our east, the precipitation passed over me. Everything was wet. The Smells were tremendous with wet Sage dominating that sense. My visual neurons were firing messages to a receptive brain high on endorphins from the dramatic show unfolding before me. I’m very fortunate to be able to chase these storms. When they come by, I usually drop what I’m doing to run “up on the ridge”. Gaining elevation is the best way to see these big storms. Of course, when you go up, you go into the storm regardless. It’s a way of life going “into the storm”. You know, run to the gunfire..🤘
I’ve said before that red rainbows are rare. This one has a bit of yellow as it is a little earlier in the timeline from others you have seen published by me recently. The red colorcast is the result of no other colors making it past all the dust / moisture / ice / pollution in the air. Those particles collectively limit the rainbows choices on which colors to refract. The rain drops can’t bend Blue if Blue color isn’t there lol.
The second rainbow is as faint as it can be. They all are fainter than the main reflection and the colors (or lack there of) are reversed in order in the second bow. This was such a low light shot that it was hard to do it justice.
Technically this is a backshow of a spotlighting veiled sunset passing Belt of Venus Pink light. Such being refracted back as a red rainbow. The lower dark blue shadow through the curtain of precipitation, is the shadow of the horizon. I am in that shadow as is the ground going up the hill. (The sun had set and the only light was from other twilight lit clouds) . So this 2 second time exposure shows the dark landscape as you would suspect after sunset. Photorealist photographers are like that lol . The pink light spotlighting is above the horizon line on this east view. The rain curtain acts as a projector screen with the rainbow aligning with the 22 degree arc from the center of the rainbow.
Of course you know all rainbows could be complete circles if viewed from the air…. I’ve never seen one except by others. I don’t fly very well with an overactive inner ear.
SO, a very specific sequence of event have to occur for a red rainbow to form. A regular rainbow with a standard ROYGBIV light color spread. Therefore the water droplets there have a full spectrum of light to refract back at you. Each light color bending a little differently than the one adjacent on the chart. This spreads out the white light into it’s individual hues into the rainbow.
At this late point of the night, only pink light survives the long gauntlet through the atmosphere at the earths surface. The low angle light being without most of its GVIB portion of the spectrum. With only red light to refract, you get a red rainbow. The timing of the precipitation falling has to coincide with the exact timing of the sunset to get these. This is by far the best red rainbow I’ve ever seen even in others photos. I’m sure they are out there.
These Twins like all rambunctious baby animals frolic most of the day. Play interrupted by periods at mothers spigots to fuel such activities. Grass and Sage turned to protein and fat by an animal that has very little fat on it’s body. I’ve never seen a market for Pronghorn Milk. I suppose you would have to be pretty fast…..
I suspect there are tame Pronghorn as rescues in some gov’t program about. They are probably like any other animal raised by humans being tolerant of us. This would not be beneficial to them with the hunting culture out here. I’ve never seen them in petting zoo’s either. Their fur is not the softest ungulate fur out there. It’s kind of coarse if you’ve felt it, you’ll understand.
Mom was just off frame to the right. It’s fairly difficult to get them all in the same frame with any reliability. When mom isn’t feeding them, she’s trying to feed herself to keep up with the calorie demands. The kids do start eating grass but this is a tough year. We are very dry and JUST had a CRUSHING hail storm. Much of the grass is flat as a glass plate to the ground. It will reduce the rist of fire.
Our fire truck was started today and is more or less ready for this season. I have some things to test and make sure is stocked. The prairie is very dry is lots of hour fuel.
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.
These Tres Amigos are obviously conspiring to pull a prank on their mom just out of frame. They jump around bouncing and playing as you might expect to see from Mini Loki’s. These are legitimate triplets as I know the mother. She was enormous compared to the other pregnant Pronghorn Does in the area. I have watched them for hours now. Mom is relatively skinny having given birth to these three. Plop, Plop, Plop with no Fizz, Fizz I’m thinking.
“They are tight as three knots on a rope they are” 👀 . Yes they play most of the time when mom’s well used spigot(s) or sleep isn’t on the menu. I hope for the mothers sake that the grasshoppers this year aren’t going to be competing for this dry years vegetation. The grass crop is going to be hurt by this insect attack I’m afraid in this area anyway. More good timing. Waiting for the asteroid impact in 4 ,3 ,2 ,1 …..
I was lucky enough to completely circle this group with a box o’ cameras. If I am very careful and drive like a cow grazes, getting close is just a matter of time. I have to drive slowly through high grass these days as there are indeed fawns both Deer and Pronghorn potentially laying there unseen. (I only drive off trail on ground that I own).
One of my advantages taking photos is I’m very agile getting around to get the light and my subject properly oriented to each other. Owning the land, not having nearby boundaries to prevent me from moving into position. I could never approach these weeks old Fawns on foot. The Pronghorn mother wouldn’t allow it so zip gone…. My truck is my portable blind. In the Black F-150 Raptor, I must seem like a noisy grazing Black Angus to them. I need a horn that makes a moo sound on it. Think that might void the warrantee?? 😜 📷
Right into the sun Captures with layers of landscape are actually one of my favorite images. I’m not sure how many of these I’ve taken. Likely they certainly number in the hundreds. Probably only 50 or so have been finished and published from my archives of photos that need to be finished (extensive). I think it’s a 70’s thing of mine… Could be just me
I prefer to do photography without additional “filters” in front of my lens. Pointing such right into the sun usually gives me ghosts of the sun I can’t fix in the digital darkroom. If your camera doesn’t have the dynamic range the mirrorless Sony Alpha 7 versions I used for this, you will have to use Neutral Density screw on glass filters in front of your lens. Those will act like sunglasses to your camera so it can actually see what’s going on. Please don’t try to do this with a DSLR style camera. They have direct light paths to your eye and blinding has happened. The Sony Alphas are a mirrorless design that is entirely a video in the eyepiece. No direct light path to blind you.
The trick on all of these is to not overexpose the sun but yet have enough detail in the shadows to bring out the horizons. It’s a knife / razors edge of tweeking exposure back and forth. You could also adjust f-stop since it’s not as critical here but is useful for eliminating light at high settings. Pointing a camera at the sun is an exercise in turning down the camera to light a LOT before you point it at the sun (hint). Don’t burn a spot in your cameras digital sensor…. . 👀 📸