Earth Day…

an affirmation of beauty.DSC_4859-Edit-3When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.

John Muir

I celebrated the start of Earth Day by spending a good part of the night outside on a cot bundled up against the 34 degree temperature.

This year the celebration coincided with the Lyrid meteor showers and as an added bonus, the Northern Lights made an appearance.

The hooting from a Great Horned Owl resonated through the still night air.

Night time is time of rest and rejuvenation and for me nothing fills my soul more than connecting with the natural world around me. I didn’t take many photos last night because I wanted to just soak up the beauty of a clear night sky. We haven’t had many of those lately.

This past week was filled with so many exhilarating moments.

A lightning storm that sent hail cascading off of my metal roof in quantities that I have not seen before.

Another halo event, not as vividly colorful as some of the others I have had the good fortune to observe but this one brought me another rare arc from my bucket list; a Wegener arc, named for scientist Alfred Wegener who first discovered it.

Icing on top of the cake came in the form of confirmation and congratulations from renowned physicist Les Cowley of atoptics . Also visible, 22 degree halo, circumscribed arc, and parhelic circle all created by ice crystals in cirrus clouds.

I still recall a poster that I had when I was very young. It was a cloud chart.

Full circle.

Celebrate Earth Day and take a few minutes to soak in some of the beauty of your natural world.

 

Spring’s first…

bloom.DSC_4330No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.

Hal Borland

I suppose it was inevitable.

I found the first flower blooming in my yard, a variety that I’ve not seen before.

Graceful and delicate it opens up towards the glimmer of sun that has been struggling to break through the clouds.

Nature’s a fickle thing though and this morning the landscape sparkles with a layer of frost.

I secretly rejoice.

Happy Easter to those celebrating.

Horizontally oriented…

hexagonal plates.

DSC_8331No one undertakes research in physics with the intention of winning a prize. It is the joy of discovering something no one knew before.

Stephen Hawking

Or in this case, something that I did not know before.

This is an image from 4 years ago. It’s the one that began my study of halo and atmospheric phenomena.

I was driving home as the sun was beginning to go down and spotted what I thought was a patch of rainbow. I stopped to photograph it and wondered why I should be seeing it alongside the sun, about a hand span to the left of it, and not opposite to the sun where rainbows occur.

It would brighten then fade and I watched it until it disappeared altogether and the sun sank below the horizon.

I couldn’t wait to get home and research what I had seen. Little did I know at the time that this would launch in me a passion for clouds and the ice crystals that can be found in some of them.

This beautiful patch of color I discovered was created by horizontally oriented plate crystals drifting down through the sky.

This is the sundog, parhelia, or “mock sun”. Sometimes they are seen in pairs on either side of the sun and sometimes they appear along with that full circle, the 22 degree halo, around the sun.

Cirrus clouds, my most favorite cloud of all. Wispy and somewhat ethereal and chock full of ice crystals…

Photographing daily has made me more observant and at the same time more inquisitive. My camera isn’t just a tool for capturing an image. It’s the catalyst for my exploration of the natural world.

Where has your camera led you?

 

A slip of a slider…

becomes a learning exercise.

DSC_0368We have art in order to not die of the truth.

Friedrich Nietzsche

It’s spring and no where is it more evident than on my still partially frozen lake.

I awaken most mornings now to the sounds of the geese as they battle it out to retain the affections of their mates.

There always seems to be at least one odd man out making a valiant attempt to win over the heart of the lady goose and the ongoing battles on slick surfaces are something to behold.

Although preset packages and filters are readily available for purchase and sometimes for no cost, I like to develop my own to use in Lightroom and will often shoot images that I know will work well with those saved presets. In my mind, it adds to the level of creativity and allows for a bit of fun when it comes to the processing of raw images.

I stumbled on this quite by accident when a slip of the Wacom tablet pen threw me into more than a slight adjustment of a slider. One of those “happy mistakes” that I fine-tuned and saved as a preset.

The reminder for today is just as I preach about learning to use every setting that your camera has to offer, take that one step further and play within your editing program to develop your own unique settings. Lightroom has non destructive editing so you are always able to go back to your initial image and start over. Often I will create a virtual copy to edit with a preset. If you are working within a program that does not have non destructive editing, make sure that you are always working on a copy of your image.

I guarantee that it will spark your creativity and who knows where that could lead you…

 

 

Fear…

is it stopping you?

DSC_3800-EditHave a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.

Charles Dickens

I wanted to share this moment with you. It was taken this week at the shelter that I do volunteer photography for and for me it captures why I’m there.

I’ve lived in this community for twelve years now and until December had never ventured into the shelter. Why? Fear and my expectations about what it would be like to look into those eyes and then walk out the door leaving them behind.

The only way to conquer your fears though is to move through them. Like so many other things that I’ve done from falling in love with night photography when I’m afraid of the dark, to taking scuba diving lessons when I was younger to get myself back in the water after watching Jaws, fear was holding me back from doing something that I felt I could contribute to in a meaningful way.

We’ve gotten into a routine now that’s really nice and I look forward to my time at the shelter. It’s a special group of people and their love of animals is evident.

This image you might think, not so remarkable, lots of dogs know how to “shake”.

But…

he only has three paws, he’s missing a back leg!

So much heart.

There are many ways to make a difference, don’t let fear keep you from doing something. Work through it and you might be surprised at what you discover.

Come on…what are you afraid of?

 

Good morning cirrus clouds…

and another exciting halo event!

DSC_3455There is no luck except where there is discipline.

Irish Proverb

I’m breaking my weekly blog post routine to write a follow-up on yesterday’s post. I wrote that one on Saturday night to publish in the morning and upon going outside saw cirrus clouds and a 22 degree halo forming around the rising sun. While these are more common than rainbows, occurring on average 100 times a year, what happened a little later was very exciting for me.

Halos are formed by orientation of different types of crystals in the atmosphere and size, shape, alignment, and perfection all play a role. Type of crystal, column or plate, play a role in what type of halo appears and when I see a combination of ice halos start to appear, indicating the presence of both types of crystals…I start to pay attention.

This happened yesterday when I saw a solitary sundog appear to the left of the 22 degree halo. Sundogs are those bright rainbow colored spots that occasionally appear to the left and right of the 22 degree halo encircling the sun.

Although I may not see another group of halos like I photographed in yesterday’s blog post again since some of those halos are only visible on average 1-4 times a year, I’m always excited at the possibility.

On Sunday morning my persistence paid off and I was able to add a parhelic circle, visible on average 4 times a year, and a 120 degree parhelia, visible 1.2 times a year on average, to my collection! I also captured a supralateral or possible 46 degree halo, the two are often hard to differentiate between and occur on average 4.2 times a year, and a circumscribed arc.

In the image above, the 22 degree halo is in the bottom right, the parhelic circle is the white halo extending up the top left, and that small circular spot just above midline on the circle is the 120 degree parhelia.

I credit as always, Les Cowley of Atmospheric Optics for all of the knowledge that I’ve gained about this fascinating subject and the assistance that he provides me in identifying halos that I might not be familiar with.  I encourage you to check out his site and can assure you that you will be amazed at what you will see and read about there!

 

In a world forever looking down…

it pays to look up!

DSC_9373-EditForests, lakes, and rivers, clouds and winds, stars and flowers, stupendous glaciers and crystal snowflakes-every form of animate or inanimate existence, leaves its impress upon the soul of man.

Orison Swett Marden

Crystals in the clouds…and the occasional display like this one only makes me long for more opportunities to see and photograph them.

This was an amazing display spanning about 15 minutes and although I had my camera with me, I was not dressed to be laying in the snow capturing it.

The brightest by far was the circumzenithal arc at the top which is touching the supralateral arc. Down from that is a parry arc, an upper tangent arc, and a 22 degree halo. Also appearing in other images were sundogs and a brief appearance of a parhelic circle.

This is my second opportunity capturing two of the more rare arcs, a supralateral visible on average 4.2 times a year, and a parry visible 1.1 times a year.

I credit the knowledge that I’ve gained about this atmospheric phenomena to the renowned physicist Les Cowley of Atmospheric Optics . I am always humbled when people of such stature find time to encourage and relate to someone like myself: just a girl with a camera in North Idaho. That in itself was a learning experience: reach out to others who share your passions.

I use my camera to explore. Looking though its lens has led me on countless voyages of discovery from halos and iridium flares to the stone houses of the October caddis.

I couldn’t wait to get home and change out of my cold, snow laden clothes and view my images on a larger screen. Better than any fireworks display and most definitely a gift from the universe.

Take time to look around you, go on an expedition, and don’t forget to look up!

Note: Never view the sun through your camera and never look directly at it. Photographing images this bright could damage your camera.