The stone house…

of the October Caddis.


Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.

Norman Maclean

I no longer flyfish but have never lost the love of wading a river and discovering where it keeps its secrets.

There is something magical and uncomplicated about spending time alongside a river whose waters have flowed there for hundreds of years. The 140 miles of the Saint Joe river in Idaho flows from the north range of the Bitterroot Mountains.

The National Wild and Scenic River System protects 66.3 miles of it with 26.6 miles being designated as wild. The beauty of the area is almost indescribable and being amidst it has a way of putting things into perspective.

At first glance the little cases of the October caddis go almost unnoticed but like most anything, if you look a little deeper its true beauty is revealed. Spun from silk and tiny rocks these cases serve as a protective home. As the larva nears maturity it will seal off its case and pupate.

When sunlight hits these carefully constructed cases it’s as if you’re viewing a small slice of the riverbed. It seems as though I’m not the only one to be fascinated by these either as more research discovered artists who have created environments for the caddis to construct their cases using tiny flakes of gold and precious gems.

To see the final result we will have to venture back in a month or so and weather providing that’s just what we’ll do.

Once again I find it’s (almost always) about the water.

An atmospheric optic adventure…

and a thrilling email conversation with physicist Les Cowley.


Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.

Albert Einstein

Do you ever wake up and just know that something is going to happen?

Last Saturday I let the dogs out early in the morning and noted the appearance of some of my most favorite clouds…cirrus and cirrostratus. Those of you who know me well know of my love for photographing ice, snowflakes, and other crystalline structures found in the winter months so it’s only natural that these delicate clouds composed of ice crystal would draw my attention in the summer!

These clouds are the ones capable of producing atmospheric phenomena like halos, arcs, and iridescent clouds.

The first to appear was a 22 degree halo and iridescent clouds. As the day wore on and the clouds showed no signs of dissipating I started to feel excitement building that I might spot a circumzenithal arc, often called a grin in the sky as it looks like an upside down rainbow.

As the sun began to get lower in the sky I walked outside scanning all parts of the sky and discovered the appearance of a sundog. And then I saw it…circumzenithal arc! Moving quickly I tried to capture as many views as possible but couldn’t quell a nagging thought that there was also something in those images that I didn’t understand so after the last light faded I came inside to research halos on my favorite site atoptics. I came to the conclusion that the secondary arc that I was curious about might be a tangent arc but hoping for some clarification I emailed Les Cowley (atoptics), retired physicist and atmospheric optics expert.

I couldn’t have been more thrilled when I got a response back that began with congratulations, you saw two rare arcs-a supralateral and also a Parry arc. The Parry arc is named for William Edward Parry who diagramed this arc in 1820 while icebound on his search for the northwest passage.

This lovely man also took the time to provide me with an enhanced, labeled view of my image.

aoptics, Les Cowley-3

I’m not sure what surprised me the most, that I photographed these rare arcs or that Mr Cowley took the time to do this for me, a novice skywatcher who studies clouds and atmospherics in her spare time.

One of those days that I will remember for a very long time and as I shared with Mr Cowley, I’m afraid that you may have just created a monster!

His delightful response? Feed the monster…and I fully intend to!

If you’re interested in these ice halos I would encourage you to visit where you will find a veritable treasure trove of information.


putting on a show!

DSC_7528-4The nearer the dawn the darker the night.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Some nights it’s just worth it to forgo sleep and gaze at the stars. Conditions could not have been better for viewing the Perseid meteor shower overnight.

Heading outside at midnight I waited for the moon to set and it didn’t take long for the meteors to start flying from their radiant, the Perseus constellation!

I am lucky to live in a place not hampered by light pollution so even the faint streaks of light shooting across the sky were visible. I lost count early on…

These are a little challenging to shoot and often they seem to land just outside of your frame with perhaps a tail sticking in. Their brightness varied a great deal as did their length but what struck me the most was the color! One fireball, a particularly bright meteor, was bright orange as it exploded into view, partially obscured naturally by a tall cedar tree.

Just like other times when I’ve been out photographing night events like the aurora borealis, the animals seemed to feel the energy and their sounds added music to the show.

This meteor was one of the last that I captured as dawn approached tinting the sky with pink. It’s not too late to catch some so if your skies are clear and dark tonight and into the predawn hours, pull up a cot and spend a night out under the stars.

The recipe for shooting? Patience, wider angle lens, higher iso, longer shutter speeds, a tripod, and a timer or a remote trigger. If you’ve got it, now is the perfect time to figure out how to use that intervalometer that might just be built into your camera so pull out that manual!

As always don’t get so wrapped up in getting the shot that you forget to take time to simply watch and enjoy.

There must be something…

to astrological signs.

DSC_5852Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf.

Rabindranath Tagore

I’m fast approaching two years of writing this weekly blog and while I must admit some weeks it feels a little like throwing words out into an abyss where they may never be seen, I think ultimately you have to be happy with what it brings into your own life and enjoy those times when it does resonate with someone else. I’m grateful especially when someone takes the time to add a comment or share their own story and it always thrills me to see the list of countries from around the world that check in to read my posts.

I like going through my images and finding one that fits with my week. It adds another element to the editing process already full of thoughts like what will I print, what goes on my website, what will I share to social media?

Once I’ve made those choices it gives me peace of mind that my images are off of the card, into Lightroom, backed up on an external hard drive, and sent to Carbonite for an extra back up. Just in case something fails, and it will and it has!

I recently had a conversation with another photographer who unlike myself does not immediately go through the day’s images and make selections. I don’t find that to be a chore, I am excited to see them on a large screen and see if I captured the look that I was going for.

Do your images languish on your card inside your camera for weeks? What do you do to ensure the safety and longevity of your images?

And this week’s image? Well, more often than not I do find that it’s (almost always) about the water...and yes, I am a Pisces!