This is a dark image. Only because it was taken in a very subdued light environment lol. Only Devils Tower on the Horizon is illuminated. That through a window in the clouds. The Storms behind me were blocking the sun effectively. This storm towering above the Ancient Volcanos in the distance have dominated the environment for hours. Finally the Moon was looking over the shoulder of the storm back at me of course. It occasionally shows up for a cameo appearance in my photographic timeline. I’m happy to oblige it as it keeps it’s schedule and I admire clock work. Responsible Celestial Objects are worth having around your neighborhood.
The ground was light grey from a coating of marble sized hail. That was creating a foggy layer near the ground. Typically when you see the grey like that off in the distance, it is an artifact from the digital darkroom. This is real hail fog plus some of the white hail showing through in the distance.
Remember the Devils Tower is 1000 feet high above the surrounding plain. The perspective makes this Cloud look VERY large but I’m thinking it’s only about 1/2 way there. Lens perspective is a property I’m constantly using and studying. Close / Far are my stock and trade for perspectives. Having said that. I’m always interested when nature works it out for me lol.
Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana.
It was pitch black out around 11PM this stormy night of worrying about range fires. I usually end up going “up the hill” after lightning storms with a quality “FLIR” (look it up if you don’t know) to look around for heat signatures in the distance. I find stomping a fire out when it’s 10 feet across is much easier than 3500 acres. Loosing a little sleep and running around the ranch at night is a small price to pay. If I hear thunder, I am up before it fades from the distance.
So I tend to stick around watching such events, nothing better to do…. Might as well set a quality camera on a tripod. Placed under my front porch roof where I can go inside and be close by. I have a tendency to try not to let quality gear get wet. Conditions have been known to change rapidly during these weather events.
The leaves are blurred on the close tree left frame. They were rustling in the breeze which in time lapse photography means blur. The 25 second time exposure is pointed down my driveway to the main gate entrance. That log gate is a 120 yards from the camera. The ridge right in front of the bolt is 550 yards out. The bolt certainly hit the next ridge over which is right at 1000 yards or 3/4 of a mile. I was running the camera at this point. FLASH….. 1, 2, 3, 4 ….. Booom… After regaining my eyesight, thought it might be a good idea for me to go inside and let a lightning trigger run the camera on automatic lolol.
The big white diamond on the lower left is a reflection off of 8 solar panels on a solar tracker. There are more panels you just can see the corner of in yellow sodium light next to it ground mounted. I’m thinking I got a little battery power from this lightning bolt
Location: The Homestead at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)
The Telephoto time exposure of a gigantic spiral Lightning bolt. It was following the easiest path of least resistance. It’s hard to know but I’m betting this was a ground to cloud lightning. That is of course just a guess. Obscured is the top of the bolt. The shaft of falling hail blocking even the strobe passing behind.. The back of this mesocyclone had a pretty good down draft along with it. Down Drafts from big Mesocyclones tend to shake my Raptor quite a bit lol. I’m usually turning it 90 degrees to the action. Usually facing my window into the wind and rain. That’s hazardous duty for cameras lol.
Based on empirical observations, Tampa Florida takes the record of lightning events/ strikes I understand. I spent years in that area. Having a memory of quite a few good storms over the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, there are moments up here…. Well let me tell you that 30 miles east of here is a little place called “Lightning Flats”. Right up on the North East Corner of Wyoming. Let’s just say it has it’s share of strikes over there. I know of animals getting killed by lightning up here. I’ve never known anybody killed by lightning to my knowledge. One is much safer in a vehicle as long as you stay away from metal and sticking long metal tubes out open windows….😜 👀
Late in the timeline of that day, into civil twilight at Dusk. The Landscape was barely visible to me so the exposure times elongated further than that storms anvil. The rising column of air going up over 30K feet at least. Only the red rays survive the atmospheric gauntlet to reflect back at my lenses. The storm is 80 miles to the north east and is classified as a Mesocyclone. A big lumbering spinning top of a weather system, they are massively powerful. The higher, the more powerful. Anybody under these things are certainly aware of it. You’d have to be several stories under ground to ignore the presence of this kind of hail storm.
How badly your effected by the passing of these as they move across the prairie, depends on your location. If it randomly moves over where you are, there is usually heavy rain, hail up to softball (we had such sized hail hit us back in 2008) sized, lightning with possible tornadic activity. Strong down drafts also can cause massive damage as those hit in Iowa in early August 2020. These are were we get most of our precipitation during the summer months.
Heaven forbid they stall directly over you below a down draft. We got 4 inches or hard rain over 45 minutes about a decade ago. Sheet wash ankle deep was running down the hill and around my house during that event. They are not a daily event but we do see these every other week during the late green and early brown season. Life on the high plains has it’s exciting moments.. 😜
This was actually a pretty rough storm up on the ridges. I pulled the truck off the top with the top winds (at my house clocked at 54 mph). I was up in the storm so I’m pretty sure I was in 60 mph winds. Pulling my truck on the backside of a hill helped moderate the buffeting. No hail other than slush. Since my truck is already a hail victim, I’m not so worried now about the little storms. I know it’s limits. It’s already golf ball hail tested lol.
The leading edge of the center of these big curved Mesocylcones (the kind of storm here) is where the rain comes out. The hail you can see in the distance. I have to fight rain with cameras so parking such to keep the water out of the lens is handy. Not always possible. About the time those rain/slush shafts hit. I had to put all the gear in it’s baby seat. Then I headed for wind cover off the topographic high. The max wind on our ranch this year in July clocked at 84. That is above the 78 mph we got in 2015. We have had some wind damage along with the fire (by lightning) and hail storm in early July. I’m thinking 2020 is a “Mulligan” year.
This is a harsh environment. I can’t imagine much damage on a sod roof of the 1910 homesteader up here. The 3 inch hail that caused so much damage here recently wouldn’t have hurt anything but the grass around them (might just be a big deal). But it didn’t break the host of plastic things we have in our environment. In the model T days, I suspect the metal was such that it wasn’t going to dent lol. The glass… I’m sure there were replacements in the Sears and Roebuck catalogue. 🤔
This “Wave cloud” does not have a specific classification to scientists, there are various situations that form wave patterns. I’d call them “Stair Way to Heaven” clouds if the name were not taken already lol. (classical reference). Finding a stable thin layer of atmosphere that the temperature doesn’t get colder with hight. This stable layer can be disturbed by waves of adjacent air to move along it. Similar to water waves in a pond. It that stable layer has enough humidity, a cold wave crest will cause cloud formation. The cloud evaporates on the way down the wave. I have only seen this phenomena a few dozen times and never this well developed under a mesocyclone. Every other time it has been a herring bone sky under altocumulus sky cover. This was unusual to me anyway.
Another form of wave cloud is a lenticular cloud often accused of being UFO’s. Those are mostly formed over significant geographic high points (mountains, big ridges etc). Saucer shaped. But they are also related to these and a similar phenomena. I’ve never seen them trail 20 miles off into the distance before. That is the ranch communication tower about a mile from my position. This was an unusual storm that moved over for this. It was mostly wind and rain. No hail and little lightning. Not very strong but interesting none the less. I never know what I’m going to see when I climb up these ridges.
Taken 7 days before it posted here. This is one frame out of several dozen that I got from watching this storm. The limiting ridge is several miles away. This is an aimed telephoto shot on an area of sky I was watching. It was a “little” active there. This was well after sunset with a heavily overcast sky above. It was pitch black except for the bolts in the distance.
I use triggered time exposures to capture lightning in my photon trap bottles. This particular image happened over 25 seconds. The first two bolts on the left happened 4 seconds into the exposure. The two others happens within the next 10 seconds with a few seconds of inactivity before the shutter closed. Then the camera too another 25 seconds to perform low noise processed the times for a proper rendering. I work these scenes with two camera quite often to alternate between the rigs so as not to miss much.
Needless to say, this is a busy shot and I’m glad I don’t have burning ground to my south and east. It was raining as you can see from the rain shafts. I’m thinking those bikers got drenched for the second day in a row. A geographic location called “Lightning Flats” is about 15 miles to our east. We could give Tampa Florida a run at times for it’s money. Lightnings a serious deal up here too.
Taken around 11PM at night of the LONG day we had a dangerous grass fire on ranch. I had gotten up at 3AM to work Neowise Comet the night before. LONG day. A lightning storm around 2 pm started a fire over a ridge about a mile from my homestead. Instantly upon hearing thunder I jumped in the Raptor. Used it’s agility to quickly get the heck up the 400 foot hill I climb to see around. Binocs come out. Sure enough, smoke in one of our fields and a rapidly growing area of flame in 20 mph winds. Crushed grass from hail and somewhat grazed down fortunately. It took me 20 minutes to get a fire truck to the scene. We activate the local calling tree. The counties involved were both Powder River Mt and Cambell County Wy. The fire was on the border. This conflagration harmed no dinosaurs.👀😜
We are under extreme fire danger up in the country this year with one of the driest June/July’s on record. Last year was one of the wettest. If you don’t like the Wyotana weather, stick around it will change. Such as it been since the beginning of time on earth lolol. We are loaded with hundreds of square miles of hour fuel. A Hour fuel is very combustible. Dry grass for example. Fortunately grass fires are easier to fight than timber fires. We kept it out of the timber.
So we fought that fire, after seeing the Bureau of Land Management crew sitting the fire overnight and wishing them a peaceful night under the stars, I went back toward the homestead only to be waylaid by this little thunderstorm (Mesocyclone) for another hour. Time exposures of up to 30 second. It was a little windy that night as I indicated. The trees are all blurred from moving around in the lengthly 20-30 second period of electronic shutter. Wind moving my truck/tripod is problematic. Particularly if there were any point sources of light around. Blurs result.
Note the stars in the upper right corner of the frame.
Just after the sun had set, the Massive rotating storm started to loose the energy that was forming it. Fueled ultimately by rising air from it’s heating influence. Starved from it’s energy source. The Mammatus clouds as above can be a sign of the big rotating storm collapsing.
This particular day was a storm filled afternoon. I suspect that HUGE bolt is 40 miles distant on the “Red Hills” (The name) making up that distant ridge. I use what is called a lightning trigger to “click” my shutter during hours where a time exposure would over expose. You can use neutral density filters on your camera to do time exposures during the day. I’m sort of a purist and don’t like screw on filters in front of my lenses. I have had images ruined by ghost images due to their effect. I point at the sun a lot, lightning probably isn’t that different. Bright Light and all that.
At night however, a long exposure might do you. In pitch black, storm flashing away….need a tripod, with a timer or remote thumb trigger for your camera, start at ISO 300, F4 (ish) and say 20 seconds. Let it flash, wait a second, then click…. Don’t touch anything until the shutter closes. Then look to see what you got. Go longer or shorter exposure to bring the image into reality. Now you know pretty much what I do to do this.
This was taken the day we had our grass fire. I had been following up with the Bureau of Land Management Hot Spot Team. I was talking to the crew until about 11:15 when it became apparent that the Comet Neowise was going to be behind clouds. Time to go to sleep, a few miles back to the homestead all the while noticing HUGE multiple lightning flashes 20 miles to our south. The silhouette of the hill on the skyline is called “Bowman Hill”. Bowman is 15 miles south of me.
Now it takes my Sony mirrorless cameras (which work only OK) for the Comet Neowise) do a pretty good job on 30 second time exposures even in windy conditions taking photos of flashing lighting. I was definitely ridge topped here having to climb out of the bowl our homestead is in to see this. Those same sony cameras take ANOTHER 30 seconds to process that 30 second time exposure before I can take another exposure. Problematic so I work 2 cameras at the same time alternating 30 second clicks and I basically get full time coverage of all the bolts possible. But I can still only take 2 photos a minute at best. (that make sense??).
So anyway…. That is the center of a Mesocyclone all lit up by that flash. The wall cloud demarking the tip of the massive spinning top of this 60 miles across storm. The intensity of the storm at a late hour was remarkable with flash after flash discharging every few seconds over all. But many of the flashes were deep in the storm backlighting several surfaces. Stars…..
We are by trick of geography quite isolated from the surrounding world. It’s 15 miles to the nearest asphalt highway and 70 miles to the nearest stop light. I’d like to think I’m a fairly astute observer of media as we are well connected to the web here……..
There are times up here I feel we are watching the storm in the distance from afar. The expectations, the eventual realization of the reality, finally the lost sense of normalcy are all heavy on my mind. But unlike the storm in the distance, we have many choices that may be made. To turn back usually isn’t an option in any particular timeline we are experiencing. Einstein has his rules after all and we must obey…..🤔
So onward inexorably toward the storm we move with no other option but to make it through. The path can be treacherous, full of pitfalls with negative effects, change, and and a loss of control perceived or otherwise. Adversity brings opportunity now and then. Like walking barefoot down this road.. Does it feel like we are in a river only able to swim to one side or the other? Maybe, but we are still ALL in the same river regardless. 👀
I’ve just had a couple of days of writers block where I didn’t want to write these narratives/pages. I finish images those days. Then this image came by my desktop and kicked me back into retrospective and forward thinking thought at the same time. This image is so metaphorical to the world situation we find ourselves in. Each of us traveling within our own sphere of influence experiencing our own storm conditions. Watching the various issues arisen in our travels appear, only to drop by the wayside mostly occurs in retrospect. The information technology age changing the way we think and act by the second. Changing our expectations. Quickens the pace they do. Driving a herd to a degree. Some of these issues may not drop along the way…. Don’t give up so freely what others have given all for is my advise.
The roads may all be different, the storms that effect us will move on to another with time. Properly considering your journey is paramount in it’s ultimate success.
Hail shafts coming out of the back of a small Mesocyclone passing JUST to our north. We got a little water from it but not nearly enough. You can clearly see the hail standing on the ground in the distance plus it is actively falling lit up from the sun appearing over shoulders. All rainbows are on the opposite side of the sky as the sun. The Higher the sun, the Lower the rainbow will be to the ground. Sunset Rainbows are the tallest on land with rainbows from an airplanes point of view are complete circles.
I worked this for lighting but alas it didn’t happen where it was detectable to the triggers that set my camera off. IT was too faint for it to detect in the sun I suspect.
I took this off the drivers window of “Clever Girl” (2020 Ford F-150 Raptor) for 1500 miles so far. Got her Dec 31, 1919. All but 400 miles are from driving on this ranch mostly covering two track trails 5 to 10 miles at a time. This is up on a saddle of the first ridge east of my Homestead (Ridge 1). Most rigs never see off road. Mine seldom sees the road 😜🤘..
This is a very wide angle image well over 90 degrees wide. Southwest to North east right edge of frame to left. The hail is on hills 8 miles distant (Ridge 5). Working parallel Ridges is a good thing 👀📷
You can see we are greening up nicely with this being 10 days old by the time you see it posted here.