Saturday, July 28, 2012

Golden Outflow

This past Thursday we had a compact meso low bearing HP-like (high precipitation) structure drop through the region. It was unique in the sense that despite having little moisture to work with (50 deg. dews at the airport coupled with the drought), this mitigating factor helped contribute to a unique photographic experience when light met cloud. Cyclic in nature and riding its own outflow boundary, on passage, winds kicked up to just below severe criteria which was equally unexpected and very dusty. Per the sixth image when this was occurring, you can imagine my awe to be watching dirt and small debris being lofted as high as the whistling power lines while basking in golden light hence the title of this entry. With no cloud interference on the western horizon, the waning daylight enabled the not oft sight of a back lit shelf cloud to be observed as any rainfall was confined up in the immediate core. Once the gust front passed which typically signifies the death of the storm cell, it wrapped up into an even more compact HP supercell as grand finale with mid level rotation easily discerned visually. A small wall cloud could be seen buried in the core of precipitation at its peak before flattening out with the loss of diurnal heating. 360 degrees of color on a drive taking me roughly 15 minutes from home.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Where There's Mud, There's Life.

Though the drought has all but decimated the local flora and fauna, wet spots within dried stream beds are teeming with animals trying to survive. I wasn't exactly in the mood to shoot but walked anyways if not to just find some normalcy.

More drought information c/o the National Weather Service Lincoln Illinois HERE.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 14, 2012 - Christian County Illinois / Dan

This past Saturday I was out watching non-severe pulse storms firing along a boundary in the next county south while waiting to go pick up Ava in another. Just as I was getting ready to head back to town, I received a text from my good friend Dan Bonnett who is also Ava's "Poppy" telling me that he had picked her up and that they were going to his house. This changed things in that I no longer had to hurry back so I didn't and instead, took the opportunity to shoot some evolving base structure that was catching the afternoon light. Initially, I doubted much would come of it but was in fact treated to an interesting display along with some humor.

Though moving exceptionally slow, a small *wall cloud* would briefly wrap up in the inflow portion before being eroded into oblivion by the mature collapsing cell. This process would repeat a short while later as I stayed with it and become more robust. Activity with the scene below as well as one to follow which had some weak rotation can be seen in the time lapse video further down.

All good things must end as I needed to get Ava so I drove back through the precipitation core which was a welcome but sorely localized relief for the ongoing drought. Exiting into sunlight from behind the complex, I expected a rainbow but not the foreground object that upon alignment, had me laughing hysterically.

Arriving at Dan's place, it was now twilight and Ava had no desire to leave nor did he seem to mind. They shared a Monkey Bread for "dinner" which is not exactly most nutritious meal but I don't care that he spoiled her and am actually grateful for it. Telling him about the session and thanking him for making it happen, Ava and I walked home as his unit is behind ours.

Through the overnight on Saturday, states as far south as Missouri and Arkansas were treated to a ridiculous aurora borealis display due to an X-class solar flare to hit the planet. I had to work and was unable to be out in the country to view this magnificent sight but did at least witness and shoot a scheduled planetary conjunction featuring Venus, Jupiter and the moon early Sunday morning. Usually I share these things with Dan as I saw him almost daily but like every Sunday, he was down tending to his wife who is in her latter stages of Alzheimer's. Despite not seeing him, I heard that his visit with her was "an exceptionally good one" which if you are familiar with this disease, is what the family needed and especially him after a significant setback with her condition recently.

The ongoing solar storm went into the Sunday overnight so prior to heading into work, I shot for about 30 minutes but with no luck. Auroras would happen shortly after I concluded the session but were brief with the activity then quickly waning. I still managed to view as well as image an iridium flare seen as the stationary dot diagonally up to the left from Polaris by about an inch.

Throughout this entry I have alluded to Dan Bonnett who would be my step father-in-law had Ava's mother and I married thus I simply refer to him as my good friend. Regardless, over the last eight years that I have had the honorable privilege of knowing him, he has been like a father figure to me in Illinois and especially considering my biological dad is deceased and my stepfather is in Pennsylvania. We share several mutual interests including science, nature, technology, politics, religion, goofy humor and even pet preferences. We've gone on many nature walks and watched numerous International Space Station flybys in our parking lot while the neighbors looked at us like we were nuts.

Monday evening he succumbed to an unexpected heart attack. I was present through the ordeal and was among two other individuals to get the ball rolling on EMT response. Everything since that moment has been a blur and out of respect, will not discuss much other than to say that seeing Ava's reaction to the news has been the most difficult thing to witness yet as a parent. I am with everyone on all sides of the family who are grieving right now as he is truly loved and missed. I had this post already started with the intent of honoring him for making Saturdays success a reality which is why I am even able to write though not really. This is a very intense time for all so to those who pray, I would like to ask that you please do and especially for his grandchildren.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Warrensburg Illinois Fireworks

We attended the annual 4th of July fireworks display hosted by the Warrensburg Sportsmans Club. It was a smaller event than that which is put on by the city of Decatur but still a nice show for being far less stressful due to heavy crowds and traffic. Fortunately I had two cameras for this event.

Shooting continuous with a designated camera for the purpose of time lapse animation, lens flaring was an issue with many stills so I opted to not do it. Instead, all 145 frames encompassing 37 minutes makes for an interesting image stack depicting the ENTIRE show! lol.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Fireworks with Lightning at Arthur Illinois

Saturday June 30 was the annual fireworks display at Arthur. A stalled frontal boundary draped across Central Illinois in time for the display would be a focal mechanism for showers and storms just N of the site as well as us. At a few times, the lightning discharges were uncomfortably close however, with the exception of a brief shower, the rain held off for the most part. Prior to the event, I pointed a camera back towards the NW at an area of higher frequency and was rewarded with a number of interesting stills.

Lightning with an airborne glow stick, ISO 800, F8.0, 10s (first four).

Flight path of large bird being flanked by likely smaller Red Winged Blackbird illuminated via flickering light like a strobe flash.

My friend Dan harnessing the power! (but actually just checking his phone).

Once the show began (and interestingly just like last year) the lightning rate increased as well. Below, a massive smoke ring that would otherwise be blurred appears as result of lightning freezing the scene like a single brilliant camera flash. ISO 800, F8.0, 8s (last four).

Powerful close strike and obvious blow out.

Cropped but still a keeper.

Be sure to check the time lapse video at the end!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Late June

The ongoing severe drought has pretty much decimated all flora and fauna or sent some creatures into early hibernation save for a few diehards making this a very sad year for natural photography. I have still found subjects to look at and namely for reverse ring macro experimentation.

Something I have been wanting to try is macro with aquatic insects. Using a clear DVD spindle cover to hold a few damselfly nymphs picked out of pond weed, this was not as easy as I thought it would be. Perhaps in time with the right equipment I'll try again.

On the 25th I was introduced to a fishing hole on private land that yielded a few opportunities including a distant heron as well as my first eagle from in the wild which as an added bonus was carrying a fish!

Short pass of the International Space Station

Visiting a natural area where there was little to see as everything is of course dry and lifeless, I encountered a few snapping turtles doing their best to deal with the drought by partially burying themselves into the mud. One in particular was so lethargic as it was likely conserving energy that I was able to get close.

Find the turtle

So dry...