Category Archives: Clouds

It’s Trivia Tuesday, July 6, 2021

It’s Trivia Tuesday, folks! So are you looking at UFOs in the images above? Nah. But, if you ever visit Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state, you might see a lens-shaped cloud hovering over “The Mountain” or the Tatoosh Range. These are called lenticular clouds and they usually form when there’s a moist airflow over a mountain (although sometimes they form where there is no mountain). They look calm and stable, however they are anything but stable. Pilots like to avoid them as they make for one heck of a turbulent ride. “Lennies” also make for great photo ops, don’t you think?

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Clouds, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Washington State

Sunrise At The Refuge

Road To The Sunrise

I was going through photography withdrawal, having not taken a picture of anything since my return from my Maine trip .   It’s been 3-4 months since I last visited the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge in my part of southeast Texas,  so I thought that would be a worthwhile thing to do over the weekend (now that the government shutdown is over and the refuge is open again).

The Beginning Of Sunrise

So I got up Saturday morning (Oct 26) at 5:11AM and was out the door by about 5:45AM.  I arrived at the entrance gate, parked my car, and waited in the dark.  The sign says the gate opens at “dawn’” and closes at “dusk” (whatever hours constitute dawn and dusk times is anybody’s guess).

At 7AM, I heard the rumbling of the gate as it automatically opened up.  So now know – 7AM is dawn.

As I sat there, watching the distant horizon turn from indigo to a deep pink-orange while deep blue clouds drifted past, I kept thinking jeez – I’m missing some good photo ops.  Luckily the gate opened up with time for me to get to the spot I wanted.

Once I got there, though, I was a little unimpressed.  Nonetheless, I affixed the polarizer to my lens because I wanted to saturate the colors.  I also used a graduated ND filter because the area below the horizon was naturally darker than the area above the horizon.  Aperture was set at either f7.1 or (in those instances when I wanted to try and achieve a sunburst) f22.  ISO was 160 to 250 and I played around with the shutter speed, anywhere from 1/30 to 1 second (I shoot in Manual mode).

I took a few shots (the ones above) then proceeded to take the camera off the tripod.

I happened to look back toward the horizon to see the clouds lined with a brilliant golden-yellow and sunrays reaching past the cloud blockade.

A Golden Burst

Camera went back on tripod.

Ball of Fire

A Burst Of Color

Brilliance

Not a bad way to start a Saturday morning.

Here’s a link to the video I uploaded to YouTube of my morning visit to the refuge.  I mention in my video commentary that it’s winter.  It’s still fall, but here in southeast Texas, the two seasons are interchangeable.  And while you may not see much birdlife, you can hear it in the background, along with the crickets and the wind.

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Filed under Brazoria NWR, Clouds, Photography, sunrise, Texas, Wildlife Refuge

A Happy 4th of July From Texas!

No flags (can’t find any in my photo archives), no fireworks (my little town isn’t going to be having a fireworks display afterall) – just a beautiful July 4th morning with bright rays of sunshine, dramatic clouds, and a silhouetted symbol of the Texas coastal prairie.

0612_Texas July Morning

For those of you who celebrate the 4th of July (or at least, get the day off), I wish you a happy day.  For those of you who have not the slightest idea of what this day stands for in America (and for those of you who don’t even give a rip what day it is), consider this just a nice landscape for your viewing pleasure.

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Filed under Clouds, Landscape, Photography, Texas

A Stormy Morning at Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

Rain has been predicted for the past couple of days.  With that rain, I figured there might be some interesting storm clouds over at the Brazoria NWR.  I woke up this morning at 6AM, peeked out the window, saw some big puffy clouds, and was on the road to the refuge before 7AM.

The morning did not disappoint:  dramatic storm clouds, distant thunder, sporadic flashes of lightning, and hordes of  herons, egrets, black-necked stilts, terns, some roseate spoonbills in the background, and four different sightings of American alligators.

For photography with storm clouds (or any kind of  clouds, really), always make sure you have a graduated ND filter with you.  During the really dark part of the morning, I removed the circular polarizer.  However, as the daylight progressed, I placed the polarizers back on the lenses.  Polarizers make blue skies bluer, clouds more dramatic, and can darken water and either enhance or eliminate reflections, depending upon which way you turn the polarizer ring.

My first stop was the refuge center’s lawn, where I photographed a bunny that looked a little the worse for wear, bless its heart.

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8049_Bunny

8076_Bunny Closeup

After that, it was a few hundred feet to the boardwalk over Big Slough (pronounced “slew”).

7699_Stormy Morning Big Slough

7702_Sunrise Over Big Slough

7705_Stormy Morning Big Slough

Before getting into the car to head to Olney Pond, I stopped to photograph this little mockingbird.  They are wonderful posers.

8084-2_MockingbirdCROP

As I closed in on Olney Pond, I could hear a cacophony of noise before I even saw the birds.  I couldn’t believe my eyes – it was a freaking heron and egret  convention (along with some stilts, terns, and one or two alligators in the mix).  So, if you ever are in the area and want to visit the refuge, I’d say the early morning is the best time to see the birdlife.  Oh, and make sure you have your bug repellant.  Those Cutter wipes are awesome.

7714_Stormclouds Over Olney Pond

8161_Breakfast On Olney Pond

8120_Herons and Egrets

8139-4_Herons and Egrets CROP

8149-2_Heron Reflection CROP

8220_Great Egret VERT

This guy was looking for breakfast, and no, it did not get the heron you see in the background.

8191_American Alligator

As the thunder rolled in the distance, and a teeny bit of rain sprinkled on the car, I continued along down the road and set up my tripod.

This is looking back up the road from whence I came.  I could see a “thunder bumper” beyond, as the storm rolled over and past me with but a few sprinkles.

7729_Looking Back

7718_Stormy Morning

7726_Looking Up The Bayou

7752_Stormy Sunrise

7771_Storm Over The Coast

By the time 8AM arrived, the storm clouds had departed the area and the sky was starting to get its typical hot, hazy look on a humid Texas day.  Plus, the mosquitoes were ganging up on me (but the Cutter wipes held true), and I wanted to get home to start working with my new photos.

All in all, it was a very good, stormy morning, at the Brazoria NWR.

7785_Bench With A View

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Filed under Brazoria NWR, Clouds, Landscape, Photography, Texas

Clouds Add A Lot To A Photograph

I hear it all the time from other photographers:  they hate shooting landscape images on a clear, cloudless, blue-sky day because it’s so “boring”.   I personally don’t “hate” cloudless days, but I often agree with other photographers about the “boring” part.

Of course you can get stunning photos of landscapes on a clear, cloudless day.   You’ll get no argument from me on that point.

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8929_Mt Rainier

3471_Purple Mountain Majesty

0639_Maroon Bells Morning

9966_A Stand of Aspen CROP

7018_London Eye Pods

But, you can get equally-stunning photos on a cloudy day.  Clouds add drama, interest, and texture.  They turn a great image into a fantastic image, and are a necessary ingredient to jazz up what might otherwise be a good, but ho-hum photo.

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94C0465-2_Morning Ferry Run PANO

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7132_London Eye

8205_Sheep and Countryside_tonemapped

Don’t wait for a clear day to take pictures.  Go cloud chasing!  See what kind of images you capture.

7242_Dunluce Castle_REV_8-17-11_tonemapped

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Filed under Clouds, Landscape, Photography