OK class. Today’s photographic assignment is to capture the essence of wind. No, not just photograph wind. Capture its “essence.” To make the assignment more challenging, do it this time of year before rich colors cover the landscape. Ah, there’s the rub.
High gusty winds moved into the area overnight. Blustery winds that are part of March in the mountains. So I reverted to a couple of old camera tricks to try and capture the “essence” of a windy morning.
First, soft focus. In fact, no focus. Capture a scene that is so out of focus it is hard to tell what it is. Then add to the illusion in Photoshop. Another month into Spring and this same image would be saturated with color. Not now.
Second trick. Double exposure. Weathervanes turn in wind but that movement is not easy to capture on a still image. So I used an old trick. Shoot one exposure. Then expose it again with a slight movement of the camera.
It starts as a distant rumble and flashes of light that catch the corner of your eye. You see the light and start counting, stopping when the rumble rattles the windows. Rule of thumb says five seconds make up a mile. That’s how far away the lightning strikes occur.
Soon the flashes and rumble act as one, lighting up the nighttime skies as bolts of electricity hurtle across the heavens. The Greeks said the lightning bolts came from Zeus, supreme ruler of Mount Olympus. Scientists tell us they come from electrically-charged ice and water particles in the clouds. NASA, which studies lightning, claims the charges can reach a billion volts and generate as high as 54,000 degrees in temperature.
With the help of a nifty photo accessory called the Lightning Trigger, I captured these lightning strikes as storms rumbled through the Little River district of Floyd County this morning. The storm reminded me of a ride back in 1985, when I sat in the back seat of NASA’s “lightning buggy,” a specially-equipped F106B jet that the agency flew intentionally into thunderstorms to study the effects of lightning strikes on aircraft. Lightning struck our plane three times that night and the craft took more than 800 hits during six years of testing of the NASA program.
Too bad I didn’t have a Lightning Trigger on my camera that night. My response time always seemed to be a second behing the bolts. Even so, it was one hell of a ride.
A foggy vista near Interstate 81 southwest of Christiansburg. Rain is probably the only thing that will dissipate the fog that has covered Southwestern Virginia for the past two days and the talking heads on the tube say rain is coming in buckets.
Approaching storm clouds and the afternoon sun, captured through a 600mm lens, provide an explosion of fire-red color over the Southwestern Virginia sky.
Ah, full moon time again. Full moons with clouds. With another band of rainstorms moving into Southwestern Virginia, Thursday night’s full moon may be our only chance for good full moon shots this month.
I’m not sure why the moon fascinates me so much. Each month she offers more variety in photographic opportunities. She always surprises.
We’ll be getting a blue moon in a couple of months. With luck, the skies will be clear with chances for the kind of brilliant views we have come to expect in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Is the moon tired? she looks so pale
Within her misty veil:
She scales the sky from east to west,
And takes no rest.
Before the coming of the night
The moon shows papery white;
Before the dawning of the day
She fades away.
From Sing-Song by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
Spring thunderstorms rumbled through Southwestern Virginia Wednesday, dumping lots of rain, rattling windows and lighting up the sky.
According to the National Weather Service, more storms are on the way and should soak the area again on Friday.
Does this mean Spring Fever has arrived at the Thompson houshold? Damn right. Amy is talking about things she wants to plant. We’re looking for the right spot for a new gazebo and thinking about putting in a pond on the lower part of the yard.
Time to get out the lawn tractor, load up the spreader and start seeding the lawn. The war on moleholes and crabgrass is about to begin. Gentlemen, start your John Deeres.
Yes, that was thunder rumbling through the hills and valleys of Floyd County this morning, accompanied by the showers of a Springtime storm.
Another sign, we hope, of the arrival of Spring. Another chance to enjoy the season. Thankfully, the rain came the day after Diamond Triumph Auto Glass replaced the windshield in one of our Jeep Wranglers. A rock from a passing dump truck started the crack that snaked across the windshield. I’m still trying to figure out how the installer managed to salvage all the decals and inspection sticker from the old windshield and transfer them to the new one.
“Lot’s of practice,” he said. Yeah, and a little magic.
Monday’s setting sun provides reflections of color on a waterfall near the Blue Ridge Parkway while this morning’s emerging light offers a different hue on the stream that runs through our front yard on Greenbriar Lane.
This time of year provides a wide spectrum of early morning and late afternoon color when the skies are clear and the sun provides a colorful, reflective light. It makes the walks around our home worthwhile and lets one start the day energized and end it in calm reflection of life in general.
Spring has arrived in the mountains. Cool mornings give way to pleasant days. Life is good on the third rock from the Sun.
Following a creek or a stream to its source can be an adventure. I’ve wondered where the stream that flows through the front yard of our home begins. It feeds not only our yard but also a pond for our nearest neighbors.
An early morning hike into the woods and hills revealed three springs feeding the stream and the emerging light provided, as usual, outstanding photographic opportunities.
I’ve appreciated the many emails commenting on the photography on Blue Ridge Muse. A recurring question also asks: “How are you able to get so many nice images?”
It reminds me of the old Henny Youngman routine about the tourist in New York asking a local “How do I get to Carnigie Hall?” The New Yorker replied: “Practice, man, practice.”
I shoot, on average, 200 images a day. From my early morning walks to the end of the day, I’m contantly photographing the world around me. Been doing it that way for more than 40 years and hope to be doing it for another 40. The law of averages says one or two of them has to turn out.
Someone once asked photographer Jay Maisel how one becomes a photographer.
“Buy a camera,” he replied. “You can’t take pictures without a camera.”
Sunlight filters through the trees and mist along Harvestwood Lane in Floyd County. After a mid-March snowstorm that left three-to-six inches in the county, and sub-freezing temperatures overnight, the snow is on the way out with a forecast that calls for sun and temperatures in the high 50s.
For our part, we’re doing what we can to make sure Spring will arrive this weekend and remain. Contractors are building a new fireplace in our bedroom today. Once it is complete, you can be sure the weather will not soon turn cold enough to use it.