Like many other locales in the eastern United States, the Shenandoah Valley has been experiencing some marvelous, unseasonably warm weather. After morning fogs burn off, clear blue skies have dominated most days.
Imagine my surprise when I stepped outside one recent afternoon to enjoy the amazing weather. What appeared to be an army of wispy cirrus clouds hung in the eastern sky. Cirrus clouds are ice crystals that form above 20,000 feet in the atmosphere. They often appear bright white and in unusual formations, sometimes resembling human hair or feathers.
I thought their bright white against the deep blue sky created an inspiring scene. “Cirrus Clouds” is my Photo of the Week.
If I have learned one thing in my seven decades on this marvelous planet of ours, it is to go with the flow. When I left the house, pleasant temperatures and partly cloudy skies ruled the sky. I intended to drive 10 miles to Paul State Forest near the crossroads known locally as Ottobine. I planned on walking the trails of this 172-acre gem of a woods to look for birds.
I packed my binoculars, birding hat and vest, and of course my travel camera, a Canon PowerShot SX530 HS. The camera is light, easy to use, and takes excellent shots, as long as sufficient light is available. I also had my iPhone along for safety sake. You never know when an old guy like me will need to make an emergency call.
Not far from the forest, the roadway showed signs of recent rain. Indeed, the clouds that hung close to the Appalachian Mountains to the near west looked ominous. With the early evening sun occasionally peeping through, they also looked gorgeous. The billowing thunderheads showed every shade of gray. Sun rays streamed through breaks in the building cumulous clouds, creating a stunning rural scene.
When I reached the small parking lot of the forest, the bucolic view towards the mountains was surreal. I turned my attention to shooting the unfolding and rapidly changing scene. The valley played open to the west, giving me an excellent view. I snapped away with both my camera and phone. Satisfied with the shots, I returned to my original goal of walking the woods in search of any migrating birds settling in for the night.
I had only walked a short distance when the heavens opened up. I returned to my vehicle, contented with the pastoral scene of clouds, rain, and sun rays. The birds would have to wait for another day.
In last week’s Photo of the Week blog post, I featured a teenager photographing flowers. I told her parents how inspiring it was to see a young person so interested in photography, something far beyond selfies. When the young woman joined the conversation, I gave her some advice. I told her to look around when everyone else is looking at the obvious and showed her an example of what I meant. She and her parents thanked me, and we parted ways.
“Looking Up” is an example of taking my own advice, something I too often fail to do. Just ask my patient wife. While recently photographing a sunset after the passage of some summer thunderstorms, I was ready to leave when I happened to look overhead. This is what I saw, the remaining rays of the day highlighting some roiling cumulonimbus clouds.
I couldn’t believe all of the beauty that was right above me while I waited on a spectacular sunset that didn’t materialize. As I told the young photographer, look all around you. You just might find something spectacular to capture and share.
Severe weather grips me. As a volunteer severe weather spotter for the National Weather Service office in Cleveland, I pay close attention to the weather forecasts. When the potential for severe weather is a possibility, I go on a personal high alert.
I watch radars. I read online weather maps. And I scan the sky. I also take my camera with me.
When the season’s first strong thunderstorms approached Monday evening, I was ready. An active weather system had produced a tornado in southwestern Ohio. The cold front weakened a bit as it approached eastern Ohio. But that didn’t keep it from producing some impressive clouds, particularly in the front of the storm system.
The western sky turned dark. I went to the back porch to see what was coming, and this is what I saw looking north. The clouds looked fierce and angry. But fortunately, we only received torrential rains and a few strikes of lightning.
Clouds intrigue me. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. While driving some back roads in rural Wayne Co., Ohio, I spotted this unusually shaped and colored cloud formation. To use the scientific name, these are stratus undulatus clouds.
In addition to their ribbon-like shape, the wide range of soft colors particularly caught my attention. The trees, mailbox, and fence help add perspective to my Photo of the Week, “Ribbon Clouds.”
I love clouds. Their various formations, ever-changing shapes, and interplay with light intrigue me.
I had just arrived home after an all day drive from out of state when I spotted this cloud seemingly exploding over the hill behind our home. The cloud was so thick the late evening sun barely filtered through, creating varying color patches among the grays and silver.
I went outside to take pictures of the sunset. Instead, I shot this colorful photo of a thunderstorm about four miles away. The setting sun’s rays illuminated the north side of the storm in dramatic fashion.