photography

Doom and Gloom

A large dark gust front

Me at the Chateau St. Croix Winery

thick green gloom nearly obscures a red sun

Haze at the farmstead

Inclement weather always gives me a little thrill, like a jolt of caffeine zipping up my adrenals. Others who have experienced the worst with me trapped inside waiting for it to pass have said “Look at her, she’s giddy!” with a mild look of skepticism. I am usually thought of as reserved, introverted even, so this surprises people to see this facet of my personality. Am I strange? I don’t know, but this weather obsession is working for me.

The large gust front behind me in the photo was amazing to watch unfold. It began with a day dry and hot as an oven, the sky was clear as a bell. Later in the afternoon a large anvil head drifted silently over the country road by the winery. Peeking over the tops of the trees on the hill, it’s towering dove gray head displayed silent flashes of lightning, like spider veins. A small group gathered with me in my “giddiness” to watch and talk weather terms, I explained that the mammatus we were seeing are the unstable underbellies of the large anvil heads you often see in the distance on a stormy day, and that some meteorologists claim that each bump can possibly give birth to a tornado. As we were looking up again, the storm bloomed into a silent explosion, as though we were watching safely under a layer of thick glass. The dust in the parking lot in front us picked up and began to spin in a columnar fashion. I began to walk backwards into the winery and not wanting to appear alarmist yet not having the confidence to really yell it out, I murmured that, perhaps ” we should get inside”. I had just crossed the threshold when cast iron lawn furniture were being tossed like rags and a haboob of sorts was chasing my panicked friends inside.

We all found shelter in the winery’s cellar and everything was fine in the end, although a 15,000 lb horse trailer was lifted and moved one foot over on it’s blocks and a few shingles were misplaced. We all swore it was a small tornado even though the news had it as straight line winds from a gust front. This gust front was so large in fact that it stretched a line from southern Minnesota all the way to Northwest Wisconsin. Moving eastward it destroyed many trees near the Danbury area.

I am not so giddy as to put myself at risk to go and see these things or chase storms but if the chance arises and I am there anyway I will photograph, Also I find that some of the best shots occur when the storm is yet far away, you can get the progression and the scale of the storm before you have to “batten down the hatches”.

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Juxtaposition

storms and skies 2012 014 storms and skies 2012 013 fresh fields 007

I love the way natural things like weeds and flowers, have a sort of disordered order that ends up being much more appealing than flawless rank and file. So while corn is planted neatly in rows by humans and the plant itself possesses perfect structure on a molecular level, it bends this way and that in the wind and gets disheveled and bleached. It reminds me of a poem that expresses so well a love of the slightly disheveled.

Delight in Disorder

A sweet disorder in the dress
kindles a certain sort of wantonness:
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction:
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthralls the crimson stomacher
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbands to flow confusedly:
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat:
A careless shoestring, in whose tie
I see a wild civility:
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.

~ Robert Herrick 1591-1674

Using the simple emblems of plants and buildings and other things like these works really well to make sunsets more interesting

Viva L’Ete !

stormy skies 008

I just happened to be passing by a west facing window on a summer night when the sight of this made my jaw drop. I raced, out of breath, to the edge of the cornfield with my camera in hand and the dog at my heels. It all faded away in five minutes. Cumulonimbus were on the skyline intersecting the setting sun.

Stroke of Brillance

Sun Columns appear when the last light of the setting sun is filtered through layers of ice particles. This reminded me of the pillar of fire in the Ten Commandments. It faded quite fast so I had to be nimble about finding the right spot off the road where I first saw it.

rays of light

A Plaid Sky

plaidsky

rays of light

cityscape

The summer of 2012 did not bear much fruit in storms but I managed to enjoy a few anyway. In photography as in life, sometimes it’s working with what’s there rather than having the so called perfect conditions. These crepuscular rays were fantastic as a large thunderhead with big “windows” in it let the setting sun flash through towards an upper cloud layer. It is much harder to photograph the weather in the city setting than in the country/rural areas where you have vast areas of unobstructed sky. But I love how these power lines resemble plaid patterns with the rays.