Been playing with a new lens and decided to photo the bumble bees in our blooming sage garden. Was able to get some interesting close ups, but in a couple the wings did some interesting things. Haven’t quite figured that out yet as I was at 1/8000 second. Are their little wings really that fast?
We have had a doe hanging out in the yard for the last week or so, she was definitely very pregnant. Last week Erin saw a tiny fawn in our yard so I have been keeping my eyes on the search for the baby deer the oaks. This morning on my to work, I noticed a some activity in the oaks and I turned around to get my camera. I was able to see the doe give birth to a fawn which was an amazing treat!
Little did I know, however, she had already given birth to another fawn, so the Sageport twins were born. I watched her and the fawns for about 25 minutes and was able to grab some video and still image footage. Now I’ll be keeping an eye out to watch these little creatures grow!
Originally forecast to be in the Wyoming/Nebraska Panhandle into South Dakota areas, the severe weather threat dropped into Northern Colorado on the morning of June 12th. The Storm Prediction Center issued a Particularly Dangerous Situation moderate risk with a tornado watch extending down into north central Colorado. Here is some wording from the watch:
The NWS Storm Prediction Center has issued a * Tornado Watch for portions of Northeast Colorado Western Nebraska Panhandle Southeast Wyoming * Effective this Monday afternoon and evening from 110 PM until 800 PM MDT. ...THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION... * Primary threats include... Several tornadoes and a few intense tornadoes likely Widespread large hail expected with scattered very large hail events to 4 inches in diameter likely Isolated significant damaging wind gusts to 75 mph possible SUMMARY...Isolated intense supercell thunderstorms are expected to develop across the watch area this afternoon. Giant hail and strong tornadoes will be possible in the most intense storms.
I have not seen wording like this for Colorado in a long time, if ever…”Giant hail and strong tornadoes…”, and “scattered very large hail events up to 4 inches likely“. Wow!
I drove Highway 85 north from Aurora. By the time I was in Brighton they were saying baseball hail had fallen in Pierce from the southern storm. The most southern cell wasn’t big but did look like it had fantastic storm structure. Unfortunately I was too far north to see the structure clearly. I was tempted to drive SW towards Loveland and check it out, but seeing the supercell in front of me kept me on it!
Photo viewing is recommended in higher resolution, just click on the photos.
The first tornado warning (radar indicated) appeared while I was east of Ault on the supercell I was on. There definitely was a defined wall cloud and everything looked “right” with the storm, it was just a matter of time.
The tornado was on the ground for 16 minutes and did some structural damage (one road was closed due to debris/powerlines in the road). It was rated EF-2 with 111-135 mph winds.
I stopped just east of Hereford as the hail looked pretty amazing laying everywhere. Hail didn’t pile up on the ground like some storms, but it was everywhere and the smallest size was around quarter sized! Then there were stones up to softball size laying around! I am fascinated by large hail and spent some time just checking out these amazing ice crystals!
I found a good article that explains white versus clear ice.
Driving towards Bushnell out of Pine Bluffs I saw another tornado touchdown but only for a minute. As I headed east of Bushnell, I saw a tornado NE of town; but there were no easy spots to pull off so I just watched it as I drove. When I finally found a pull-out from the road, a train went by blocking my view for about 5 minutes. After the train, I caught the rope out. Looking back to the NW, I saw another tornado but was never able to get a good picture of it!
I ended up calling it a day near Chimney Rock as I watched the amazing mothership sail off into the distance!
I have been wanting to visit the St. Peter’s Dome fluorite locale for a while as I heard the fluorite was beautiful and plentiful. Friends Matt, David and I visited the location and it didn’t disappoint.
The location is accessible by a normal vehicle along the Old Stage Road where it meets Gold Camp Road coming out of Colorado Springs. If one is unsure of the last road to the mine, they can park at the St. Peter’s Dome parking area and walk the 200 yards to the mine dumps.
There is a bunch of fluorite laying everywhere, mostly in small chunks. You can take a sledge and chisel and work some of the larger pieces if you so chose, but I just walked around and picked up a dozen or two smaller stones that looked like they had interesting color or marbling.
I have a flat lap so I took these stones and polished with a 150 lap. They look really nice all polished up (wet in this case), so I will continue to shape and then polish the stones.
Lightning is one of the things I look forward to most during Spring and Summer months! I love photography and have been able to get some nice lightning strikes normally with my digital SLR camera. Lightning on a cell phone isn’t that difficult, however, assuming you have some know-how and a more advanced camera app on your phone. There is certainly luck involved, but a little technical knowledge and a cell phone with advanced options can allow you to catch Mother Nature’s natural fireworks!
Firstly, safety is most important. Being on a porch or anywhere outdoors is unsafe. Being under a tree is unsafe. Being next to a fence is unsafe. Being close to metal underground piping is unsafe. I think you get the point! The safest place to photograph lightning is inside of a house (through the window) or in a vehicle with the windows up. You don’t get wet that way either!
Lightning photography is dangerous and lightning isn’t very forgiving (i.e. is deadly), so please be safe!
The key to capturing lightning, given you can’t predict when it will occur, is to open the exposure on the camera so you can capture several seconds at a time. Only certain phones allow for this, but newer Android phones seem to be leading the way–it is called “Pro Mode”. Different phones have different options in Pro Mode:
- Being able to open the exposure for several seconds is helpful
- Lowering the ISO and/or aperture (f-stop) to let less light in is usually helpful, especially if it is still dusk
- Because the camera is taking in light for a longer period of time, there is no way a human can hold the camera still, so you will need to place it on a window ledge, the ground, or something else to keep it absolutely still
- Focus for lightning needs to be exact. Usually your subject is (better be) far enough away that you can choose manual focus and set to infinity.
My Samsung Note 5 camera allows for control of the focus, ISO and Exposure, so I lowered the ISO to the lowest setting (not Auto), changed to manual focus and set to infinity, and chose 4 second exposures. I then positioned the camera on the ground and/or window pane so it would be absolutely still and repeatably pushed the trigger. If you have a rapid fire mode, this could work instead of the longer exposure as well.
TIP! Lightning tends to occur (rule of thumb, definitely not scientific) at regular intervals, so i often count the amount of seconds between each bolt. Once I get within 1-2 seconds of when it “should” occur, I open the shutter. I also just continuously trigger the shutter so it is open most of the time.
So now that the setup is out of the way, here are some examples of lightning I caught and some tips and tricks.
Got a call from my friend Jim that we were getting some great Palmer Divide Lightning coming into our neighborhood. He invited me over to get some shots; but I couldn’t find the camera which was put out of reach to avoid accidents while my son and friends had a video game fest!
I ended up finding the camera and quickly set up on the back porch as I didn’t have time to head over to my buddy’s place across the neighborhood. Since this was dusk I set the exposure for one second and closed down the aperture (f11) to limit the light so I could get a longer exposure. I then put it on rapid fire and started taking photos.
The storm’s bolts got within about I estimate 500 feet which was a bit close but I was able to capture some shots before the rain overtook me…luckily I have a safe setup when shooting from the back porch. The storm was hardly yellow on the radar so it was a special treat to be putting out any lightning.
I have long been wanting to explore the area known as Bacculite Mesa near Pueblo, Colorado searching for various fossils in the Pierre Shale deposits. This site is on private land but the land owner does allow clubs to visit on planned trips. This year I was able to make the field trip with the Canyon City and Lake George clubs.
The Western Interior Seaway had Colorado as the ocean floor around 70-80 million years ago. This was before the mountains were formed and all over Colorado there are fossils contained in Pierre Shale deposits. I have found pyrite and marcosite concretions in this general area coming out of the Pierre Shale. This is a rare and premiere location for fossils from this era of our geologic history!
I carpooled with another fossil enthusiast David (thanks for the ride and company!) and we both had a great day and some amazing finds. David suggested hitting the back side of the collecting area and we found some great fossils in that area; but limited bacculites which was mainly on a different face of the mesa.
I found the bacculite fossils pretty much in every zone of these hills including on top, especially in the small ravines and in wash outs below the hills. I dug in a couple of spots that had quite a few rocks and fossils in the area, but didn’t find anything in-situ.
I found a couple spots where there was calcite (?) crystals in the fossils, like you see in the clams from Florida or septarian nodules. These were eroding out of harder rock and not the Pierre Shale, I’m assuming some kind of reef as the rock was full of imprints of fossil clams, shells and ammonites.
Been cleaning some crystals and since I was playing with my macro lens I decided to do some crystal photography, both to play with technique but also to see up close where the cleaning still needs to occur.
Most of these crystals need a lot further cleaning; with all the facets and how stained they were to begin with; this will be a long process to get all of the staining out of the cracks.
Was a beautiful Mother’s day, took a few minutes this afternoon to play with my prime macro lens to become more familiar with the depth of field options, bokah and focus.
Denver and the entire Eastern part of the state was under the gun for potential severe weather on Monday afternoon; the first severe day of the year. There was a tornado warned storm around Agate on the Palmer Divide and the radar definitely showed a couplet, but only sustained funnels were reported by chasers on the ground. The main threat was hail; big hail and lots of hail, and straight line winds.
I went out east of Denver to start, took a conference call for work while I was watching the major hailstorm wreck havoc over Denver. After my call, I headed east until I eventually punched through the line of cells and was able to see the storms on the east side. Watched several cells get close and then headed home. Although there was a lot of lightning, I was nearly to Kansas and will wait until another day to catch the nighttime action closer to home!