The Blue Sky of up high fame is positionally just right to be in relatively unfiltered light. All the clouds below are SATURATED with the reddish / brown color I call “Burnt Umber”. A filtered window to the sun off frame to the left let in enough light to reflect off “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill who appropriately was showing off his shiny surfaces. A matter of pride in a windmill. His older brother “Re Pete” lives about 3 miles further into the backcountry. Not as shiny, the 80 year old wind engine is. It was DEAD CALM or I would have captured that sail a spinning.
This night’s air quality wasn’t as bad as some lately. The cloud deck was a good projector screen for the smoke filtered light that night. This is of course a close / far perspective with the sky being the far part. Both in focus. Easy with a cell phone, tough with a manual camera. I was moving along the trail by this veritable legend in his own mind wind engine. I have no control over his actions but I saw the glint(s) off the side, stopped, backed up and composed the shot. Click. He was so becalmed, I think it was sort of a windmill nap. So I finally snuck up on “Sneaky Pete”… It has taken years….. Proof there are periods of no wind up here ……
IT was extraordinarily still. 20 minutes after sunrise. A perfect mirror in the stock pond. Cattle herds have been watering here for over 100 years for a timeline. Yet longer ago, the Sands of the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance formations providing the water that fills the small glass smooth earthen berm’d tank. This water body looks much larger than it appears here. The perspective of the very wide lens messing with us. More of a puddle than a pond. None the less, a provider of a perfect double image for me to capture during this rare (long term) smoke pall moderated sunrise. This is probably the only good effect from too hot a burning forests x 100 … massively cool photographic environments….
Even though the sun appears higher in the sky, it is quite dark under the thick plume from western fires. The forest releasing all sorts of combustion gasses and soot. This isn’t as bad as all the man made structures burning. All those plastic fumes are mixed in with the forest by products as well. This is an unparalleled event as I see and understand the enormity of these combined fires. The hugely damaging “Bobcat fire” alone plus 27 other blazes in California alone are adding to the flavor (literally you can taste this stuff) of the air.
I’ve seen a lot of smoke before from fires but I haven’t smelled the fires as much as this year. Nor have any previous year I’ve experienced in my 30 years living in Wyoming been this thick with mixed haze. As a geologist I will tell you that this isn’t 1 / 100,000 of how an exploding Yellowstone would effect the sky.. That would be pitch black raining ash. That was climate change if you don’t think it has changed before lolol.
I am always watching the moon making sure it keeps on it’s appointed rounds. Here I caught it resting on top of the local cheese cutter “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. The moon is like a big bird standing on an alligator’s back if you follow my metaphor. All that cheese sliced in one fell swoop… 🙂
Close / Far Perspectives in the world of Smokey Skies is a hit or miss proposition. The moon was up high enough to be above most of the smoke hugging the bottom few thousand feet of this air column. The sunlight however coming in over my right shoulder was markedly red as the sun was a bit lower than the moon to the horizon. The sunrise was before the moonset giving me about 15 minutes to work. Both in the daylight at the same time is a rare monthly window. My job was to catch the moon goofing off on the job. I only got to work 1 out of 3 good mornings for this kind of capture.
Evidence: Here you can clearly see the Lunar Disk sitting, resting on the arm of the wind vein belonging to this local windmill. I’m not sure how he makes up the time he wastes sitting on his tail around here. I catch him reclining on trees all the time but It’s a big planet and getting around it has got to a bear. The moons orbit is 1.5 million miles long. I’m always seeing him sitting down on the job. He’s aware of it as when ever he notices me, he starts moving again. Sorry about the windmill not spinning, I have no control over his actions most of the time …..
The depth of the layer of smoke that gave me this apocalyptic image was early in the timeline that night. Keep this image in mind when I post an image of that sun setting into that mist. Here the sun is up high enough that the stepped gradient (natural not done in the digital darkroom). . Many stepped gradients from photographers are artifacts from improper digital darkroom technique. This is totally natural.
I don’t believe I have ever seen conditions worse than this. All sorts of backcountry outdoor activities are not occurring. Hard to cut wood when you can’t breath. Hard to do construction too. Some folks go about 70 percent effective under atmosphere such as this. Looks like fog, it’s choking, wood smelling smoke. 2020 is sure a mulligan year. Need to throw the ball out into the fairway and re-take the shot.
Of course, you couldn’t look into this to see it without a quality mirrorless camera. Just glancing at such a scene can do damage. I only look at scenes like this through my gear. Said camera moderates the intensity.
Disclaimer: I saw this scene on a live video screen within the view finder. I can adjust my settings real time accordingly. There is no direct light path to your eye in a mirrorless camera. DSLR cameras can blind you doing this kind of work so don’t. 🙂 Some cheaper small sensor cameras can’t take this either and doing it wrong is likely to burn your cameras sensor chip. With the full frame Sony A7 Series) I’ve taken thousands of directly into the sun images. No damage to your gear if you do it correctly. Getting your exposures too dark before you point at the sun is a good idea. Use highest f-stop and low ISO for this certainly. 1/3000th or so.
This is an amazing image to me. It is VERY hard/rare/unlikely/difficult and otherwise tough to get detail on the back of anything standing by the sun. I’m easily able to read AEOMOTOR (with the A covered by the sail). I’ve run my cameras for a bit. Having pointed at the sun a few times. I don’t believe I’ve EVER had this result…. This is a very odd color.. almost salmon. Never seen it before either. Seeing the surface detail on this side of the windmill… priceless.
First of all, this is a smoke Pall (of course) blocking about 80 percent of the suns light. IT’s very even smoke though and effectively a filter for the sunlight. The face of the Windmills Sail are in shadow. The ability of the best consumer technology is limited by your camera’s sensor chip being able to resolve the differences between really bright and really dark. This is known as Dynamic Range. THe human eye has 21 f-stops of dynamic range. The Sony Alpha 7R4 I used for this has 15 f-stops of dynamic range. That is really high for a camera in the current crop. Being able to see detail of a black cat in a coal bin in a bright white room is what dynamic range is about.
This is “Re Pete” the backcountry windmill. Big brother of “Sneaky Pete” the windmill that hangs out by my residence. I have to travel a bit and go through some gates to get to this guy. He is positioned on a wonderful little area. We call his home the “Treed Pasture”. Named that for the thousands of Jack Pines living there. This guy is functional. I’d have to change the pump leathers to get it running again though. It worked last time we used it in around 2008. Probably eeds some lube I suspect. He’s 40 feet up there and that sail is 8 feet across. A man can stand on that high platform and not come to the top of the sail. These are big machinations.
“Sneaky Pete” the wind engine is the smaller of 2 “brother” windmills of the “Pete” family on our ranch. Big Brother is “Re Pete” who lives 3 miles into the backcountry. Both are up in the rolling ridgeline country of “Wyotana”. Sneaky has been running for 20 years with a few rebuilds. He is 25 feet tall and pumps air for a ponds benefit. “Re Pete” is an antique still functional Aermotor Windmill way in the back country. Either would have provided served as a filter here. The symmetry stroked my OCD lol.
During the recent 2020 brown / fire smoke season, sunrises / sunsets are unusually interesting. There are a LOT of particulates in the air. The Deep Crimsons and yellow sphere of the sol are the only colors in the otherwise color bereft landscape. The feeling on this last of the few remaining warm nights was of an original Twilight zone episode I saw as a child. It scared the heck out of me. A fog moved into a community, next thing they knew they had been transported to an alien world. Scary stuff to an adolescent with 3 channels on the B+W Tube TV with aluminum foil on the Rabbit Ears. Some of you might have to reach back early on to remember all that.
Stark lighting, like being under a partial eclipse. It’s an odd look with everything terrestrial cast in an odd red glow. I compare it to a gel filter over a stage light. Just a really big light lol.
As I type this narrative on the 7th of September 2020, a weather system is moving through with mostly drizzle so far. It’s a classic fall weather system though and that is a good thing. We need moist days for sure to make it to the snows. Snow in the high country. I’m not draining the water out of my fire truck yet to winterize it. I don’t keep it in a heated building as it is bigger than you can image. Winterizing is a balancing act as too late, you freeze something. Too early and you don’t have water immediately handy when you need to put out a grass fire for instance.
I’d say these guys were traveling the neighborhood and found an oasis in this high near desert environment. I usually keep a game camera pointing at active (full) stock tanks. Some day I’m going to photograph a big raptor on this tank but not yet lolol. Mostly I get blurry animals at night but SOME (1 in maybe 100) day time image are pretty good.
Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is watching the commotion as he effectively photobombs this wildlife image. I have no control over his actions.
We keep four stock tanks running all year with a small by high pressure water jet into the tank. This circulates the water in a circle and tends to keep it open in the winter. I’ve not had one freeze up yet. About a gallon in 4 minutes… Pumping water for lifestock and wildlife consumption has been expensive over the decades I suspect. I haven’t crunched the numbers and really don’t want to know… With all the cattle our water pumping amounts to around 100 bucks a month worth of electricity. Fortunately that is right around what we get back from the utility company we feed with 18 big solar panels each month. More water use in the summer of course, less in the winter.
I figure without liquid water in the winter, most of the deer that winter here would move to lower (wetter) locations. The grackles are migratory so are grouping this time of year. They raid my barnyard when they get the urge as well. This tank is a busy winter tank. Lots of deer come to water here.
This is the Sun…not the Moon. During the forest fire smoke Month of August 2020, I had “SOME” opportunity to play with the subdued / occluded sun under otherwise clear skies. Of course the smoke moderated the intensity of the light. That REALLY helped with the technical issues of taking a blurred windmill against a still very bright object. It’s easier to do with lens filters on the camera (Neutral Density) but I don’t use anything in front of my lenses 99.9 percent of the time. This is raw in the camera stuff.
There is a lens artifact in the sail of the windmill pointing from the sun to towards the center of the spinning dish. I left it in the image as I liked it lol. Lens artifacts are a result of light bouncing around inside the lens. Usually a lot of light. I’ve fought them before being too intense glaring out the whole image. The subdued sun makes all this possible.
The lighting through this smoke pall reminds me seriously of the total eclipse a few years back. I watched that total eclipse in Douglas Wyoming. There was an odd shading at first followed by a progressive “dusky” feeling. Life under this pall beside the breathing issues, is very similar to that odd eclipselighting both in illumination value and overall feeling.
The air was quite unhealthy. Similar to smoking outside except one can’t get fresh air between puffs. There are a variety of health effects with a new study indicating even “Gut” health is related to air quality of all things. The SUN (not the moon) was setting into the Pall… Close/Far Perspective with Smoke Filter… Not a condensation cloud in the sky, this is ALL ground level smoke.
There are hundreds of fires burning in the west. Many in California but every western state has something burning. Most are lightning related other might be a bit more suspicious. None the less the smoke has spread far and wide to the point where my copy of “Weatherwall™” shows me where it is the thickest. Some of the applications out there now will actually have a choice to select where the fires are. The map is covered…😔
I have only had to fight one fire this year so far fortunately. I understand the forecast is for cold weather. This is a good thing lowering the fire danger considerably. Last night was a .2 rain here with a hard rain surrounding us. There isn’t much grass to burn in this area due to drought and grasshoppers eating what’s left. Basically it doesn’t pay to run the tractor and other equipment to harvest hay. It’s very desert like this year. We normally get 14 inches a year mostly in the spring. This year the spring did not deliver AND the last two months have been VERY HOT and DRY as this narrative is written.
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.
Augusts full moon is commonly known as the “Sturgeon Moon” because the giant sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this part of summer. Moons seem to be named after significant feeding events in human history. Not quite how that happens.
More folk names of this moon include: The “Wheat Cut Moon”, “Moon When All Things Ripen, the “Full Green Corn Moon”, and the “BlueBerry Moon”. Publicity seeking of course, this Aermotor Windmill jumped in front of the bigger personality photobombing the scene. Hehas been around for 80-100 years anyway. In the 1930’s there was a homestead nearby and supposedly a log mill. I have yet to find ANY trace of a log mill on my ground. Prairie Paparazzis as myself am always keen on finding out who is hanging with what. 😜
As I type this narrative, we are under a “New Moon”. Half way through the 28 day moon cycle. Coming up in October of 2020, there will be a rare blue moon. The last blue moon was March 31’st 2018. They don’t come around too often thus the term “Once in a Blue Moon”. I pay a lot of attention to lunar cycles in chasing this photogenic fellow. There are only a few days a month I can do this kind of work. Then usually several of those windows get closed due to weather. The time for Orange Harvest Moons is afoot. All the forest fires are going to supplement the color shows this fall. That is until the snow come. I’m betting on a hard winter up here.
Late afternoon Rainbows are steep and tall. So is “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill as he photobombs my Rainbow capture. I have no control over his actions. I find that “Sneaky” is disproportionately present as a foreground object in my “Close / Far” perspectives. Part of that is he hangs out about 100 yards behind my north fence. It is the closest working windmill to my place. Secondarily, he really likes the publicity or so I have heard. But don’t let it go to his head. Being famous someday is his goal. I just capture photons in my traps.. 👅
This was actually a big storm so I was staying off the muddy two tracks. Trucks destroy two tracks if it is wet out even light trucks like “Clever Girl”. If it rains over a 1/10th of an inch, I stay on the trails limiting myself to better trails that have been graveled or the county road. I maintain a mile or so of graveled road that I have in various places on the ranch. Those will get me far but not necessarily up on a ridge. Only ridge one (the ridge behind the windmill) has a gravel road to it’s peak.
You can see from the color of the grass how frickin’ dry it is up here at the moment. It’s wetter just east of here. It’s dryer to the south. These summer storms either hit your or miss you. Four possibilities when summer Mesocyclones come through the area. Your getting nothing but a show. One, it might squash you with hail. Two, your might just catch fire from the electricity . The forth possibility is you get a nice shower but those have been rare on the roulette wheel of precipitation this summer. I got a some water, a rainbow and some wind out of this storm. Fair deal… ☯
Ol’ “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is up to his old tricks again. I find he is more than willing to try to interfere with the clock work universe. Here he is trying to slice and dice up the moon again. I’ve caught him several times attempting what must surely be a crime anywhere but Wyotana.
Windmill Weekend (Windmill Junkies Unite) 🤘
“Sneaky’s” full time job is to pump air into a small pond that has barnyard ducks on it. This de-stratifies the pond and makes it more able to deal with the extra poop load from the ducks. It also keeps a pretty good hole open in the ice during most of the winter. Well, with the help of the aforementioned water fowl helping. He has been very good at pumping air over his career. I can’t even imagine how many times it has turned around over a couple of decades.
Photographic Musings: (Long but instructive)
More angles in this thing…didn’t have a clue what to use as a level horizon lololol.
Fellow students, what to do you have to do to get this kind of shot?
OK, Full Moon up during the day (maybe 2 chances a month IF the weather cooperates). Then the moon about 2 times a year lines up just so with the topography. (Topography is my master). It has to be somewhat windy.
Where to set this up, you have to be at least 300 yards away from the close object (windmill) with a 400mm lens. That puts the windmill in the same focal depth of field as the moon at infinity. I work up to 1200 mm this way for some distance perspectives. The further back you go with a larger lens will give you a relatively bigger moon in the image.
THEN with all that conveniently arranged, you have to Set your camera to the dreaded M – mode. I know, it’s scary in there. Set your priority that you need most. Blurred windmill…… OK, 1/15th of a second exposure to allow the blur. That’s pretty much set in stone so adjust the camera shutter to 1/15th. Balancing the exposure now is easy now.
That leaves only two other things to adjust, ISO (camera sensitivity) and F-stop (aperture/iris size in your lens.) F-stop controls your depth of field which you want very deep. So a high enough F-stop number to focus both is required. I used f-22 for this. Lower f stop settings will thin your depth of field. You would have to move back too far to fill the frame.
One setting left. Turn your camera sensitivity to what is required to give you the proper image in “live view” or in your mirrorless camera. In a mirrorless camera, what you see in the eyepiece is what you get. You get to watch your settings change live real time in the eyepiece. What ever it takes. Rule number one of photography is to get the picture. Damn the high ISO if it is needed. Fortunately this is still some daylight in the frame. 📷
(Maybe a little silly satire). We are pretty green up here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. I believe there are 24 big solar panels up and running things like water wells up here. Wind generators 2. Underground and above ground green house. Big windmills 2.
I can only align this the 28th of July and May 15 when the sun rises in a certain position. Otherwise the spacing is all off and nothing is aligned throwing off my OCD (I have it bad) Compositional requirements all amok. There is no alternative to turning the camera mostly off to light pointing a telephoto into the sun. (NO DSLR’s). The background ALWAYS goes to some shade of burnt umber and the sun goes yellow. I must point out that with a telephoto a close / far perspective like this with 4 layers of objects.
“Sneaky Pete” the windmill is 200 yards out. The smaller wind electric generator is 100 yards out. The Hand water pump about 120 yards along with the vent pipe the sun is sitting on. Re: vent pipe, I seriously overbuild my infrastructure up on ranch to support the mass of celestial objects as the sun. Bought that pipe years ago. My comment is they don’t make things like they used to. 😜 📷
I have a habit of catching both the sun and moon being lazy sitting down on the job like this. For all I know the sun is management (sitting around) and the other guys are out there pumping water… Oh wait, that is sort of how business works isn’t it? lololol. The sun provides the power for all these devices, human made (machinations) to run water pumps. Windmills (wind engines) can be used to pump water/air or circulate fluids, the wind is powered by the sun.
The smaller windmill charges a batter bank which is about 10 years old currently and holds a charge well. Still good batteries maintained by that. Runs a small water pump from a cistern Vented with a hand operated cast iron water pump. Good old man power also initially powered by the sun. 🤔 Getting all these actors to line up is like herding cats. The pipe is leaning from all that weight….. 👅
There are lots of characters (years long narratives) around this ranch. Here is a continuing theme… 😀
I’ve seen “Sneaky Pete” the photobombing windmill with cold feet before but I suspect it feels like hot coals. Actually I’ve observed this behavior by him before with Sneaky jumping over the solar disc with the intent to trap him. (I have no control over his action). Sneaky learns pretty slowly. After all he is a windmill.
The sun of course has been around a LOOOOONG time and is a observer of all things. Sometimes the activities of humans and their machinations amuse it. Other times like this, not so much. Of course being wise in all things, he just slipped out the bottom as the horizon rose behind Sneaky. (Back to my normal prograamming).
Blurred Windmill with a Bright sun…….. F36, 1/15th sec, ISO 100 with a 200mm focal length. Two opposing settings. High fstop for the light reduction PLUS the deeper focal field for the close/far perspective. LOOOONG shutter at 1/15th. You have to at least rest a 200-400mm lens on something to hold it still at 1/15 and that is hard. The long shutter allows the blur. A tripod is better. Your ISO is your final setting (camera sensitivity). Just adjust it until you can get the exposure you want. This is a razor edge/ paper cut edge of the envelope kind of capture. I had nothing left in the camera I could do to eliminate more light and still blur the windmill.
Windmill Weekday: Windmill Junkies Unite, (you know who you are). 🤘🤘
Perspective photographs properly done mess with your sense of depth. Here “Sneaky Pete” the windmill is “Milling” his fate at the scary scene unfolding “just over the hill”. He can’t see whats coming. I can just sense his aprehension. These big fires out here can be devastating. Most ranches have some way to fight fires. Usually a “quick reaction” truck. Perhaps a wagon pulled behind a pickup with a sprayer rig on board. Several thousands dollars of equipment to safely fight a serious prairie fire.
I’ve lived up here on the border 20 years and have fought dozens of range fires.. I’ve lost track and they all blend together going back that far. Each and every fire was a community experience with familiar local faces. There will be 6 or 7 more finished images from this timeline.
Fortunately for us, this particular smoke plume was over 40 miles distant. We can’t travel very far in our big lumbering fire truck. For those fires we do show up at, we try to make a difference with the 1000 gallons of water we can carry. I’m in the process to fit my Raptor with a 100 gallon bladder tank. Quick reaction is good too. This HUGE forest fire distant started with one spark (lightning) and was small for a while. They it got big quickly. If some rancher had enough water and got to it with the first smoke, it would have been controlled. We had our ranches fire under control in about 3 hours. We were on it about 20 minutes after I first saw it.
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.
Talk about a busy photo. I swear rainbows and lightning in the same image together is not a common thing to happen in front of your lens. You have to hunt this stuff and then set up the possibility. It was very dark but I could see the “Right Turn Clyde” sign to align it with the the blurred windmill. (you remember those two Shows 1978 and 80 right). The Windmill had a great view of the rainbow that had formed with a faint compliment secondary rainbow. This was very late and the only light left for the rainbow was the long traveled pink light. Normally you see this as a pink Belt of Venus on the frozen atmospheric ice.
Here the “Belt of Venus” pink backshow light was all that available to the rain droplets to refract back to my lens. The pink color being as strong that night as I have seen it in a summer evening. I’ve seen it WAY stronger in the winter. Winter of course is the time of year to watch Alpenglow in the Wyotana skies. All the ice makes for amazing shows. The same light reflects in a much darker shade off of water droplets than ice crystals. Light to amazing pink in the winter is standard, this openly cranberry color is an odd one for me to see. Thus it is my gold standard to finish the image. It made a huge impression on me at the time.
Obviously I have several finished images from this timeline. Each a little different in it’s coloration as the sequence of events played out in front of me. There are times I REALLY love doing this.
I just love it when architecture aligns with Astronomy and Physics. It makes my sense of proportion much more in an agreement with my position in 3-D time and space. Close / Far Perspectives are a gift when they appear to me. If I move a few inches in either direction, the effect is not there. The goal is to set up the symmetry just slightly offset. I would work this sky for an hour if it would last that long. Holy Moly!!
Really close focus wide angle lenses are so fun. Seeing how far I can pull the depth of field toward the camera in under such low lighting conditions make for an interesting photo. All of the physics that rules the natural world controls my activities and success/failures in achieving such close focus. These colors are as I remember them with the yellow sunny part of the image being “Slightly” over exposed. I trade off things like details in areas of super bright for details out the dark area of the photo. The ability to see details in BOTH dark AND bright at the same time is called Dynamic Range. The Human Eye has a dynamic range of 21 F-stops. The best camera I use (Sony Alpha 7R4) has 15 F-stops. Now your milage will vary with your camera with many cheaper cameras working well enough with 12 F-Stops.
Dynamic Range is definitely something I look at when I’m evaluating Cameras. How close a lens will focus is something I look at when buying lenses.
The wind was indeed blowing steady for Wyotana at this moment.
This full color image taken just outside the north fence of our homestead here in the Montana/Wyoming borderlands. Best tail of a comet I’ve ever taken and I’ve done a few over the decades back to Halley’s Comet in the 1980’s. The surprise Comet Neowise C/2020 F3 is it’s official designation. IT is a naked eye comet in this dark sky environment. Enjoy it as it’s not coming back for another 7000 years. So this will have to do. Let me know what it looks like next pass around the sun. It’s a big one with a 3 mile diameter nucleus. The orange tail totally took me by surprise. I could barely see the windmill in the viewfinder as this presented as pretty much a black screen with a few blotches on it lol. Focusing by instinct really.
I suggest about 3 AM though this was taken around 3:45 AM. I was “working” the comet after doing photography yesterday afternoon AND last sunset. It’s been a pretty short night. I might take a nap today…… Doing night photography is a whole different animal I point out. Not having light makes for a host of issues you have to deal with inside the camera and outside.
With a long lens (this zoom was set to 300mm. Now the hard part with no light, is that turning your shutter speed to 10 seconds makes it VERY hard to focus precisely. Some “messing around” and testing the waters is necessary. Also there has to be some extra camera sensitivity (ISO) to boost the already silly low amount of light coming into the camera. A really good challenge.
Close / Far perspectives are complex during the daylight. This is a 10 out of 10 difficulty image requiring a tripod, proper shutter settings, not too high an ISO and enough F-stop to be able to focus BOTH close and far objects. Razors edge stuff… My lighting source are the low beams on my Ford F-150 Raptor. The LED light bar was TOO bright for the foreground without fogging out the background. So just a little ground light with a 10 second exposure. Any longer shutter with this long focal length, your going to get motion blur on the stars and Comet. To say this was a challenge would be an understatement. I didn’t think I had enough depth of field (focal depth) to pull it off. Got lucky I guess. Good luck trying this.
I have a few more nights to potentially work this comet. It’s all about the cloud cover. Normally I am at least 7 – 10 days out from taking a photo to publishing. This was taken this morning. Front of the line lolol.
“Sneaky Pete” the windmill has a commanding view most nights. Those evenings where the weather window to the BigHorn Mountain Range are open to my lenses. The latest part of the Golden Hour has the best light in my experience. The low angle of the sun accentuates the light by filtering the rays through the suspended ice in the atmosphere. The smooth yellow (top) to orange (bottom) gradients of Alpenglow colorcast everything highlighting reflective surfaces and ridge tops with the right angle.
There was no wind that night. The Sail of the windmill moved not for my camera. No shutter speed tricks would have blurred it’s lack of motion. We do get occasionally dead calm air. During air conditions as this, I tend to get suppressed rifles out. My activity is to Shoot and listen to the bullet going supersonic across it’s entire arc of travel. Whoooooooooosssssssssssssh Twack…. Hearing the bullet Twack it’s final backstop 1000 yards out. You can hear your heart beat if your no where near herds of cattle. Then you hear a lot of cow calls, moos, and bawls by calfs.
The 130 miles to the BigHorn Mountains are visible due to my homesteads position high on a ridge (pass between drainages). I am topographically elevated as high as the far ridge is above the Little Powder River Valley below it. I have a straight shot right to the core of the BigHorns. 13000 foot peaks are part of the Backbone of the Rocky Mountains here in America. They used to be a lot taller. The Powder River Basin at my feet used to be a lot deeper in the distant geologic past. More like the Tetons but bigger. Then the basin filled up with debris from the mountains and the elevations are balancing out a bit.
The hundred year old trees and the nearly 100 year old windmill share the scene with us here. There was a time when I would take a light level reading spin some dials, maybe look up a setting on a chart using the film speed I chose for the event. It was the wild wild west and very expensive to take a photo. Then you could have to either print them yourself or on film. I got exposed to digital image processing/ printing seriously in 1989. Photoshop version 1 and Quark Express. I had opened a full prepress service bureau serving other graphic artists in Jackson Hole by 1993. It was film first then a laser drum scanner to
Complications: Translated through my lens to your computer by a host of technological innovations. Converting light photons to electrons in the camera. Those electrons recorded as a series of 1’s and 0’s. Those series are carefully manipulated inside the camera to start into something resembling a really huge number. Properly interpreted and modified by a host of algorithms under my control, that number is changes slightly to suit my sense of finish. From there, the computer file (image) is converted by a lossy compression scheme to .jpg. Then Facebook messes with it further resizing it to suit themselves.
Then and only then does the computer file that was generated by the photons from the sun hit your monitor. Your screen converts that big number from the electron stream back to photons for your eyes to receive.
So see! It’s a really simple process to go from my lens to your eyes.. 😜 😜
This is the second image from this timeline I am publishing. Each has it’s own merits. I worked this wonderful scene moving around for the different compositions that are hiding from us. Our perspective is “where we are”. The goal of photography is to see past where we are actively moving to the “optimal” perspective possible for the scene at hand. There are an infinite number of options available here only limited by the topography I’m positioned on. There have been so many times I wish for a ladder of just a few feet to change the angle ever so slightly. This is of course why I drive along parallel ridges to work terminator crossings. I can move up and down the opposite ridge as it is my metaphorical ladder.
Terminator: This is the dividing line between night and day as seen from outer space. It’s a good way for me to describe EITHER sunrise or sunset to you if you understand what it is. That visible shadow/light line moves around a globe that is 24000 miles around in circumference one time a day. That is, the shadow of night moves in at 1000 miles per hour over us as the sun rises or sets. Likewise sunrise moves over the earth at 1000 miles per hour likewise. Terminator is an interesting google search… You see it on the moon all the time….
I hadn’t been to this particular location for a while, it’s SORT of off the beaten two track. Anyone notice the photobomber? There are no cattle in this pasture yet so lazy me tends to stay out of pastures I have to open and close gates to enter. I’m getting lazy in my old age… 😜 📸
Clouds hundreds of miles away accentuate and attenuated this image filtering the light before it reaches my lens.. Various levels of smoke from burning forests, dust and moisutre give western photographers opportunities. I am not ashamed to take advantage of it though my heart goes out to those that the fires impact.
I’ve physically fought my share of grass fires living surrounded by a giant sea of grass. Fires used to burn here from their start to the first snows putting them out. I’ve seen some tremendous sunsets as a benefit to natures actions cleaning up the dead fall that we have allowed to accumulate to dangerous levels.
I’ve said many times before that I don’t use glass filters in front of my lenses. When shooting directly into the sun, the best filters have leftddfff a ghost of the sun in my images. Offset reflective artifacts are not generally welcome to a photographer that tries really hard to be a photorealist. I will occasionally wander using lens reflections/flares in my work, but not here lol. 📷
Big Long Telephoto lenses have a tendency to CRUSH perspective like a compressed accordion . Getting topography, Windmill and Sun all to line up at the same time while at the same elevation as the sail…..not that regular an occurrence lol. I know the topography I work pretty well after ‘working it’ for decades. Knowing the direction the sun is going to rise is a matter of looking it up on google which would be about as far north as the sun gets mid June lol.
Get a compass, a map (in my head by now) and figure out “what two or three things” can line up. I never know WHAT the show is going to be when I go out with cameras. I do usually know WHERE it is going to take place though. 😄
There was a lot of complexity to this evenings sky up here in Wyotana. The wind was indeed blowing hard and spinning ol’ “Sneaky Pete” a good bit. I have no idea how many times those bearings have rotated but it’s millions…. many I suspect. As I type this we had a 43 mph gust and the storms that moved through last week gave us an 84 mph gust on my weather station. I now have my weather reporting station back on line. Do a search for DW1087 for my weather station live here on ranch.
From a technical standpoint, doing this in camera with no Neutral Density filter in front of your lens is rare. The conditions must be JUST right. Anytime I point a camera into the bright sun, I’m mostly turning off the all the light valves. This gives me either crimson or burnt umber colorations. Who am I to argue with the camera. No human eye could stare at this live and work later.
I wanted to blur the windmill sail. A fast shutter speed will freeze it in it’s track and reduce light (less light is good here into the camera). It’s all about balancing these three things. But to blur such a thing, means 1/15th of a second which is VERY LONG in bright light. OVERPOWERING BRIGHT = hard to do right. Balance……3 things…..Shutter and:
Camera Sensitivity to ISO 100. Faster shutter speeds reduce the light coming in too. (you need to)
Leaving F-stop (aperture/iris size) to consider. I want a close far focus with this telephoto so I’m using F-36 (a high setting for a 400 mm lens). Higher the F-stop, = less light BUT deeper focal field. That means the depth of focus will have both the windmill and the distant sky/horizon in focus). Sort of a requirement but not a problem here. I only use 1 of maybe 10 of these I take….. Hard to do.
Reconstructing past lives and events grabs your minds eye coming upon an old homesteads and a windmill.
The comings and goings of old homesteads spark my imagination. There is a demolished homestead about 1/4 mile from this location. Pieces and parts of past lives past scattered about. They had their own hand dug well 35 feet deep and 4 feet wide about 200 feet from their house down in a deep gully. I filled in that hole when I first moved here. It was an “attractive nuisance” and 35 feet deep x 5 feet in diameter. Hand dug… Many settlers had to use the water at their windmill. I suspect an outhouse long since gone somewhere nearby downward of the prevailing wind but hopefully away from their water source.
This land has had cattle or sheep on it for 100 years and slightly more. That’s 5 generations of cowboys/herders that stayed the night or the summer in this treeless pasture. Finally when this wind engine was installed, being the only source of water for several miles around, the cowboys drank here too. This is very big country open back country. It’s remote and just plain challenging to get to in the winter.
This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. Wells were positioned centered in the pasture. This made it accessible to the entire area. A lot depended on the ground water geology to make the shallow wells work long term. (luck mostly early on). Don’t get me going on geology lolol.
All you Windmill junkies out there might be having a little withdrawal … I thought I’d throw this in as a post. Here “Re Pete” the windmill surveys his domain with an unusual mostly blue twilight morning sky. Being a control freak, “Re Pete” here is intent to keep things around him in line. Little does he know that the crafty old sun will just sneak up over the hill and spoil his mood. This image is just a snip of the continuing adventures of the “Pete” Brothers Windmills for you their loyal followers. (You know who you are😜 )
I usually work my way out to this guy’s hangout where he gleefully “photobombs” my landscapes…. (It’s a years old narrative if you don’t understand lolol). Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of the still standing windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. By 1892, 20000 had been sold lolol. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol.
This business is not for sissies here in the backcountry.
I’ve only dumped ONE camera and long lens out of a moving vehicle to date. It cost around a 1000 dollars to fix that camera back. I feel that was cheap. Particularly compared to buying a replacement camera. The lens undamaged. I was traveling about 15 mph at the time. Then watched the unit tumble end to end. It was very close to this spot lolol
Exactly on the Wyoming / Montana border, this Volcano simmers at behest of forces beyond our control. This of course is a satire and illusion of a volcano created naturally by a confluence of events and my position.
I love the long distance perspective of a properly involved deck of clouds colorcast by Alpenglow. These are real colors not unknown in this remote high country. The 180 mile long cloud deck positioned above a clear icy window to the sun. Our “volcano”, called Lookout Butte has a commanding view from the top as it’s name suggests. Being an “Insulberg” (google this), it has few characteristics resembling a Cinder Cone Volcano but for it’s shape. All form and no substance passing for an event of geologic significance in this fleeting moment. The chances of a thick layer of clouds across the sky lining up with the top is not terribly high so I cheat and move. The levers my ability to get just the right angle. The ability to move quickly from place to place is really useful for this kind of opportunistic photography. 👀
I don’t always work sunrise, but when I do, I always like a simulated volcano going off in the photo.😜. Illuminated by a dynamic gradient of long traveled cinema quality light, the actors of the stage show have a huge projection screen to perform under. Sometimes dramatic plays happen overhead taking over an hour from start to finish. I have a tough job watching entire sunsets and sunrises as they mutate from second to second.🕺 This show was the directors cut. 📸
I might take 800 photos of a particular sunrise as this. Maybe 2 or 3 images from the twilight will be finished. All the images from the timeline that morning but with different frames were equally as dramatic. Skies as above are rare but the high ridges I work have their share.
Close far perspectives are always a favorite to bring to completion. Windmill Wednesday: Windmill Junkies Unite 🤘🤘
For me to publish this, I take an average of 1.5 hours per image. I then have to study that timeline to pick this photo. Then there is the small amount of digital darkroom time maybe 10 minutes.. then I have to write / type the accompanying narrative… I start at 250 words for an image. I could write 250 words about a clump of dirt these days after the last 6 months writing over 1500 narratives to accompany my portfolio images. Each post I publish on line, is an e-version of one page out of that eventual book. For now it’s all free reading lol.
So just ignore “Sneaky Pete” the Windmill. Any recognition by the public makes him insufferable. He’s been photobombing my landscapes for years up here in the high ridge lines of the Montana / Wyoming. The narrative is years long and “Sneaky” gets his share of recognition. Some fans instantly know him versus other less gregarious windmills. He is a notorious photobomber in the local tales of lore.
SOO, “Sneaky” here is the Close part. The 130 mile distant peaks of the 13,000 foot high BigHorn Mountains loom on the horizon the far…. The Windmill is 1/4 mile out, the first ridge 10 miles. The valley under the treed second ridge / mountain slope is the “Little Powder River Valley. Finally stand at 40 miles distant are the Red Hills, made of sediments from the BigHorns far distant. (Google Alluvial Fanglomerate).