Singing Sky Photography: Blog en-us (C) Singing Sky Photography (Singing Sky Photography) Mon, 16 Jan 2023 16:50:00 GMT Mon, 16 Jan 2023 16:50:00 GMT Singing Sky Photography: Blog 87 120 So Far, So Good! So Far, So Good!


I spent the moments before sunrise this morning standing beside a fence line, staring at the sky above the Bridger Mountains. It really is a wonder to observe the way clouds dance and skitter across the sky. You don’t always notice the movement until you have a series of moments, frozen in time on your camera screen. When you swipe from image to image, it creates a time-lapse exposing the motion. As the clouds streaked overhead, the light changed by the second. Individual segments of clouds would light up, and then fade back to gray. Then, half the sky would illuminate as if from within, starting out pink and then subtly shifting to orange and yellow. I blinked and the Bridgers began glowing as that glorious orb of light crested the eastern horizon and kissed the peaks with its warmth. In my mind, sunrise has a special advantage on sunset, because it carries with it the expectation of a beautiful day. So far, so good!

(Singing Sky Photography) Bridger Mountains clouds landscape photography Montana Sunrise Mon, 16 Jan 2023 16:49:28 GMT
Light and Shadows on Black Butte  

Light, in all its beautiful forms, is what photographers seek to capture. We will chase it through valleys and over mountain tops. We are willing to wait for hours until the light is just right. The best light bookends the day as the earth’s primary source of light both greets and bids farewell to a day spend basking in its glorious light. Last July, I decided to capture a series of images documenting my day chasing light around Black Butte in the Gravelly Mountain Range. The images in this album represent roughly 24 hours from midday one day, to midday the next. As these images show, clouds, as long as they let enough light in, are a friend to photographers. Join me as I wonder around our campsite and capture moments of a day in the life of Black Butte. 

All day long, clouds were streaking overhead. Rolling hills were covered in wildflowers representing colors that artists have attempted to replicate over the ages. With names like Old Man of the Mountain, Monument Plant, Sky Pilot, Forget-Me-Not, and Indian Paintbrush, these flowers are as unforgettable as their names suggest. As the Sun continued its arc across Montana’s famous Big Sky, shadows moved slowly like the hands of a clock. At mid-day, they are small and the light can be harsh, but as our source of light and warmth approaches the horizon, thats when the magic happens. Shadows stretch like a fox waking from its nap. They get longer as gilded light begins to pour over the landscape. The darkness begins to envelop the landscape until just the highest places reflect the light. Eventually almost all of the light is gone, but the show is not over! At night, a host of the Sun’s very distant relatives join together in the darkness to form fantastic shapes in the night sky. Earth bound dreamers have stared into tho night sky for millennia, playing connect-the-dots on a huge scale. Gases and dust left over from the massive explosions of dying stars join with an impressive array of active stars as the spiral off into the universe. Darkness can be scary in bear country, but my sense of wonderment at what I was beholding was stronger than my fear. But wait, there’s more! A few hours later, our warm sphere is lighting up the sky again. This time the show starts on the tops of the mountains. Sunlight kisses the peaks good morning and then its glorious light chases the shadows down the mountain and across the meadows of wildflowers. I spent another hour or so in rapt attention as I witnessed the dramatic performance that we call sunrise. Then, it was back to bed for a little while to recapture the sleep that all that light chasing caused me to lose! Time to pack up and head home, but not after one last look over my shoulder at my new friend, Black Butte. We’ll be back. In the meantime, enjoy this slide show of images I captured in a 24 hour period.


(Singing Sky Photography) Black Butte Clouds Dead Tree Gravelly Mountains Milky Way Montana Mountains Sunrise Sunset Wildflowers Wed, 01 May 2019 03:18:21 GMT
Ah, Wilderness! Asilomar State Beach, CA

I am a mountain man at heart….or am I? In the mountains, I can stand at the edge of the forest and dream about what lies within. Are there wild animals? Maybe bears turning over logs for grubs. Possibly a herd of elk forages at the edge of a meadow, ready to bolt for the trees when danger comes near. In that meadow, flowers may accentuate the tall grasses or line the banks of a stream. Mayflies dance at the water’s surface and are occasionally gulped up by a cutthroat trout. Relentless breeze waves through the grass and it’s gentle roar is heard in the pine trees lining the meadow…….


Where was I? Oh yes, I am standing at the edge of a vast wilderness, mindlessly dreaming about what lies within. Only its not a forest and I am not in the mountains. I am laying on the coarse sand on the shore of the Pacific Ocean trying to get a good photograph. The air tastes of salt and a distinct sweet, fishy odor fills my nostrils. The sand is an eclectic mix of rock and shells pulverized by the relentless crushing power of waves. There are strands of kelp laying across the sand. Waves are breaking and crashing against rock formations near me, creating more sand with every thump. A Sea Otter drifts between the waves, occasionally diving down and resurfacing with a meal on it’s belly. I can hear the soft clacking of a stone against crab shell as it breaks the protective housing of its meal. I begin to wonder what may be lurking just out of sight beneath the waves. Seals and Sea Lions, Whales and Dolphins, and Sharks and Jellyfish all call these waters home. The more I sit there and ponder the marvel of the ocean, the less I am sure that I am a man for the mountains. Maybe I love wilderness where ever it may be found. High in the mountains, in a hot dry desert, in a foggy stand of Coastal Redwoods, or right here, at the edge of a mysterious wilderness just yards from homes and businesses. 


I am a mountain man with saltwater in my veins!

(Singing Sky Photography) clouds kelp mountain man ocean pacific sand waves wilderness Sat, 17 Mar 2018 05:44:27 GMT


We all view things from a different angle. Circumstances, beliefs, abilities, and experiences all alter the way we see things. One day last fall I was looking for a sunrise shot in Big Sky, Montana. I got out of bed extra early to make the hour and a half drive to this location. I drove all over the place, carefully eyeing every tree, meadow, and rock pile. I was losing that glorious light of the golden hour after sunrise.  I was feeling a bit defeated and headed back down, disappointed that I had been unable to find a shot. I looked back over my shoulder for one last glance at Lone Mountain as I passed a roadside pullout. Days of gloomy, rainy weather had left a glimmer of hope in a mud puddle. I turned the truck around quicker than you could say "photo-op"! It didn't take me long to determine that I may have found my shot. Thing is, there were a lot of distracting objects in the background. I had to get right down in the mud to get the angle I needed. I actually set the base of my camera in the water. I had to lay flat on the wet ground to compose the shot. By changing my perspective, I was able to eliminate the distractions and focus on the beauty of the scene. Life is like that. There are storms that come and go. Some stick around longer than others. There are times when it may seem like the rain will never stop. It is times like this that you've got to get a little dirt on your hands to get new perspective on your situation. Problems don't usually fix themselves. They often require grace, humility, and good old-fashioned, down-and-dirty hard work! I bet if you're willing to do that, you might just find something beautiful in a mud puddle!

(Singing Sky Photography) clouds hope mountain perspective puddle reflection storm sunrise trees Fri, 02 Mar 2018 16:34:07 GMT
Fire in the Hole  A steady rain fell loudly on our tent all night during the last moments of August 2014. By early morning on September 1st, our plans to rise at o' dark thirty and drive from Apgar Campground to Logan Pass to capture a sunrise were threatening to be overpowered by the desire to stay warm and dry in the tent. Most of my best shots are complete surprises related to spur of the moment decisions. Often when I plan a shoot, I am disappointed in the results. My wife and I pushed through the comfort of the tent and got up at 4ish to hit the road. As we drove up the engineering marvel of construction that is Going-to-the-Sun Road, we began to climb into the magical world of the clouds that usually stays above the ground we walk on. The clouds and fog became so dense that we could hardly make out the center line of the road. If you've experienced this road, you know that the road is not a full two lanes wide. In many places it is a vertical wall above and a precipitous drop below. The only thing separating you from the abyss is a wood guard rail. We inched along in the dark fog hoping to keep the rubber side down and watching carefully for any hint of on-coming headlights. It definitely began to appear as if we would not get to experience a glorious Glacier sunrise. We pushed on though and soon enough we safely reached the Logan Pass parking lot. Not another human soul was to be seen as I drove to the east side of the lot. The fog was racing over the pass like a herd of sheep being pushed out of a corral by a sheep dog.  I noticed, as the dark was giving way to the dawn's early light, that small holes in the cloud cover occasionally passed overhead. I began to anticipate that one of these windows to the stars might, just might, offer a view to the east and offer some brief spot of color. I set the camera up on the tripod and pulled my hood up as protection from the wind driven water vapor that felt much colder than the thermometer may have suggested. Then it happened. One of those open patches blew with incredible speed from the west, passed overhead and then a breathtaking burst of color opened up to the east. A shaft of sunlight shot up the St Mary Valley and illuminated the clouds in vivid orange. Wisps of fog lifted off the trees and rose to dance with the peaks. I rapidly pushed the shutter release as I panned the camera from side to side in an attempt to find the best composition. Then, as quickly as it opened, the clouds once again filled in and enveloped the landscape in it's cold, wet blanket. I grabbed my camera, folded up my tripod and walked quickly back to the vehicle to warm up. As I approached the truck, my wife's eyes met mine in an unspoken "did you see that?".  There is something powerful about experiencing such majestic natural beauty with your soulmate. I am grateful to have captured this image, but in truth, I don't need the picture to remember it. The image is forever in my mind.

(Singing Sky Photography) clouds fog glacier national park going to the sun road logan pass mountain national park orange sunrise Thu, 08 Feb 2018 02:22:55 GMT
Dancing with Dippers  

 As I drove across the Gallatin River over an old (1919) steel truss bridge, I looked down on the river and saw this compelling ice formation on the river's edge. Immediately I saw an image in my head and knew there was a good chance I could make it a reality. I parked and began walking back across the bridge to access the river. I encountered several vehicles as I walked across the weathered wood bridge deck. The whole structure creaked and groaned as I stood to the edge and let the cars pass. While waiting, I looked down to the ice ledge and noticed two small birds on the ice. Their quick, bobbing motion gave their identity away! These were American Dippers, also known as Ousels. They are year round residents that live along rivers and actually dive in and using their wings to swim and their sharp little feet to grab at rocks, they search for aquatic insects to eat. I made my way down to the water and began to hear the most amazing birdsong! I've not heard such a sound in the dead of winter before! Turns out, this was the song of the Dipper! It seems as if this may have been a mated pair. They danced through the air and on the ice as they flitted about chasing insects and each other. I joined in their dance, albeit less gracefully,  as I made my way across the slippery ice to "my spot". The sun was not yet up so I had time to set up my tripod which opens up and allows me to set the camera almost on the ground to get the angle I was looking for. I like the contrast of blurred water and crisp ice so I opted to use a dark filter which allows me to use a longer exposure than the available light would normally allow. I knelt there on the ice for close to 30 minutes waiting for the color to arrive. I love it just before sunrise, when the Earth's shadow envelops the landscape but the sun-kissed clouds light up the scene with glorious morning light! That is exactly what began to happen as I started clicking away! The Ousels continued to flit about, Canada Geese honked in the distance, and I even saw a Bald Eagle fly over. A hundred yards downstream a Kingfisher clacked its distinctive call and there on the icy edge of the Gallatin River, this photographer's heart danced and sang with the Dippers!

(Singing Sky Photography) gallatin river ice landscape orange sunrise trees Sat, 27 Jan 2018 18:55:06 GMT