The Tracer

More from Rudyard

Who has ever heard of Rudyard, Montana? Not many people, I figure! This is where I had the privilege  of spending several days with Jack Horner on a dinosaur dig in the badlands… slept in a tipi and everything. It was a great experience. To see the other photos from Rudyard (which many of you know this trick, now), you can just click on “Rudyard” by this post or over in the categories.

Daily Photo – The Tracer

Late one night, after everyone was super-exhausted from digging up dinosaurs all day, we had a BBQ. After the BBQ, everyone got out a bunch of guns and we started playing around with them. Good times in USA! Anyway, hehe… one guy pulled out a giant elephant-type gun and loaded it with tracers. We fired them off into the distance to watch their awesome parabolas. I set up to capture some of the action…

HDR Photo

  • casusan

    Cool capture Trey! Looks super fun! Know you had a good time! I still remember that sunset scene from there. Beautiful!

  • I’m going to show how little I know — but I have no idea what a tracer is. Some kind of homing device for tagging elephants? Not much of a hunter here and never touched a gun despite being from Indiana.

    At any rate, cool photo.

  • sorry Trey, but gun-shooting is really not that cool…

  • The elephant gun just describes a huge gun… not one for really hunting elephants. Tracers are bright-colored phosphorus (I think?) bullets that are often mixed into a sequence of regular rounds in automatic guns. When shooting at night, it’s hard to tell where the bullets are going… so every 20th round or so may be a tracer that gives you a laser-like path. Anyway… this is the very little I know about it… I’m sure that a smartie-gun-guy will drop in and tell us exactly what we are seeing here! 🙂

  • I’ll be honest with this one, I really don’t like it, and in fact I find it quite scary that this is what people do for ‘fun’ in America…

  • Dad’s Dad

    Cool photo- I know you have never been hunting and don’t plan to go. But still a good picture.

  • Gail in Montana

    Neat photo, Trey!! I emailed myself the story connected with this photo and then clicked on Rudyard. Found the photo I received when I ordered your first book, and labeled the photo!! Thanks so much for sharing part of our state on your site!!! Now I’m going to go and save some more of Rudyard photos in My Pictures as they are on the PC and now I’ll have them on my laptop, too. Thanks so much for sharing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  • Tony

    I sure as hell HOPE you guys had a safe background to shoot at…

    Other than that, a very nice picture of must what have been a very nice event. 🙂

  • Hard as it may be to believe for the average city dweller to believe, there are still places in this big, beautiful country where guns are a necessary part of life, (and yes, our menfolk like to have “fun” with them on occasion. Safely.) Very artistic shot, Trey; the lighting and definition on the figures is what really brings this picture to life.

  • Richard (oldhickory)

    This isn’t my favorite Ratcliff photo, but it does look like fun! Anything that burns, blows up, or flies, is Ok by me..:)

  • Interesting Image. Nice to see something out of the ordinary now and then. A little surprised at the anti-gun backlash…

  • Not an appealing image to me. Shooting guns in the air, very stupid. I hope alcohol was not also involved. Do you the city of Los Angeles has gun shot detectors scattered in various areas of the city, just so the cops might be able to respond quickly enough when some fool sends bullets up in the air (what goes up, comes…)

  • Ray

    Every 5th round. Phosphorus, magnesium or other bright burning compound. Maybe a four year tour in the US Army might help. 🙂

  • Steve Clarke

    The physics behind the arc is interesting. When you think about it, this makes the fact the the space shuttle is able make it into space and a little bullet(comparatively speaking)can not, suddenly seem just that much more amazing.

    Very sadly, photos like this erroneously reinforce what a large portion of the world envision when they think of the USA… “not to bright good ol’ boys” that like to kill stuff. But if nothing else, I guess the photo certainly does in fact prove that otherwise intelligent people do pretty stupid things… This moron is firing off a gun in the general direction of a house.
    A falling bullet; depending upon it’s size, will travel at 50 to 100 meters per second (150 to 300 feet per second). How would you like to be hit by a ball bearing traveling at that rate… never mind a bullet tip design specifically to penetrate objects.

    A bullet traveling at only 150 feet per second (46 m/s) to 170 feet per second (52 m/s) can penetrate human skin and at less than 200 feet per second (60 m/s) it can penetrate the skull.
    The mortality rate among those struck by falling bullets is about 32%, compared with about 2% to 6% normally associated with gunshot wounds. The higher mortality is related to the higher incidence of head wounds from falling bullets [1]. What about the less serious damage done to cars, house roofs, etc., etc.?

    Before anyone reading this decides to rant at this post, ask yourself if such ranting is not just a want to try to justify prior such behavior? Simply put, no good can come from firing a bullet into the air. What goes up, must come down… perhaps in a deadly manner.


    [1]Ordog, G.J.; Dornhoffer, P.; Ackroyd, G.; Wasserberger, J.; Bishop, M.; Shoemaker, W.; Balasubramanium, S. (1994). “Spent bullets and their injuries: the result of firing weapons into the sky.”

  • Gene

    Whether this is stupid (as some posters say) or not depends entirely on the population of where they were. It would be very stupid if it were populated at all. But the U.S. still has enormous tracks of wilderness in which firing off guns in this manner is not particularly dangerous. Of course there’s a non-zero chance of hitting someone, but the odds are exceedingly low, and you’re not endangering others any more than, say, deciding to drive to the theater to see a movie.

  • So is this a photosite or a place for anti-NRA speakers? How about we keep our comments about PHOTOGRAPHY?? If you want to post your comments again guns, guns laws, americans yadda yadda yadda…do it somewhere else. The photo for the photos sake is worth talking about. Nice colors and definition in the house, nice ghost images, nice angle. (And I am not an american BTW) I came in here to see what settings you used and instead get this. Trey is like any good photographer around the world..see something…take a picture, tell a story. You dont’ have to like the story but it needs to be told. Nice work Trey.

  • Steve

    Trey is a awesome photographer. Arguably, I would say one of the best in the world. As we all know, he documents the world in HDR photos and the stories that go with them. These comments are simply opinions from each poster and they constitute an ongoing component of those stories. Once you know someone who has been accidentally hit and killed by a falling bullet, your eyes are opened to the fact that bullets are designed for but a single purpose. Aiming at an intentional target is relatively safe in terms of intent (lol, assuming you aren’t the target!), but firing into the air turns intent into a game of chance. You don’t have to like the comments for them to remain true and still be an ongoing dialog of those stories.
    Regardless of any of this, the graceful arc of the tracer is still a beautiful record of the strength of gravities pull. As always, great work Trey.

  • Dan

    It is amazing what a photo will capture. For those who express their politics on what is a great photo shame on you. For one the picture took place on private property with no neighbors within 5 miles.The gun being used was a 50 caliber single shot breech load with tracer bullet not an elephant gun but could do the trick. The bullet trajectory landed in a field 2 miles long 1 mile long with no possibilities of any one being in this area during this shot. I agree shooting in the air is not the thing to do but when done in the manner which this photo was taken safety was in line and no one was in the area. Enjoy the photo for what it is and not what political correct people would have it be. Come back again Trey you know the lay of the land

Newsletter Sign Up

The most beautiful newsletter ever!