Cinco de Mayo sunset and astro experiments

What a beautiful (probably smog enhanced) sunset at my friends house here in Larkspur.  Wasn’t focusing too much on photos (more on just chilling after a tough couple of weeks) but was able to capture several with a 55mm prime f1.8 Carl Zeiss lens.  

Going for the shallow depth of field to blur the background. f1.8, 1/6400, iso100, 55mm.

Rampart Range, Perry Park and Devils Head. f8, 1/160, iso100, 55mm

Devils Head and contrail. f8, 1/125, iso100, 55mm

Devils Head and “X” marks the spot! f8, 1/60, iso125, 55mm.

Love how the moon flares with this lens. 15sec, iso1600.

We were watching for the eta Aquariids shooting stars, and it was time to go home, so I made a fireball :). This is actually the moon. 15 sec, iso1600.

These are fairly noise due to the digital zoom with the 55mm lens. I’ll go back and shoot these with a telephoto sometime. This is the Front Range west of Denver. f8, 1/60, iso160, 55mm

Another perspective. Lookout Mountain in Golden is in the lower left. f8, 1/60, iso200, 55mm.

Morning Photography

February 3rd 2017 was a cold, brisk morning in Larkspur.  We had a good fog all night and the temperature went down to 15 degrees in the morning.  I started my daily journey toward the megalopolis while dawn was just unfolding and I felt the urge to turn around to grab my camera.  It was beautiful out!  

So, I turned around and went back home and grabbed the camera.  Along the first 5 miles of my route I stopped many times and took some photos.  I then was treated to an elk herd that was in plain view so I stopped and watched them for a while.  

A fun start to my drive to work!  As always these photos are previews, click on the photo for a larger version.

bear dance sageport sterling point larkspur

My road home

fog larkspurfrost fog tree larkspur fog

crull cabin larkspur colorado

More on Crull Cabin…

bokah frost fence wire

I was happy with the bokah effect on this shot!

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elk larkspur

I especially like this picture with the frost on the scrub oak.

Autumn Larkspur Lightning

As a large trough comes digging into Colorado bringing much cooler fall weather, we were treated with some autumn thunderstorms and lightning.  I was able to capture some of these bolts during the heavy rain inside my car.  All were taken with the camera hand-held, so focus on a couple is a bit blurry; but overall pretty good given the proximity, the amount of rain, and the varied distances.

These first few were directly overhead so I was only able to capture parts; not the whole bolt.

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tn_LarkspurLightning_Oct20-4490As the storm slowly moved north, I was able to readjust the vehicle and focus; a couple were a little closer than I was expecting so the focus was a bit out, but overall not too bad especially for hand-holding the camera.  Focus is difficult with lightning every time!tn_LarkspurLightning_Oct20-4492 tn_LarkspurLightning_Oct20-4513 tn_LarkspurLightning_Oct20-4527 tn_LarkspurLightning_Oct20-4535

Rural Colorado Lightning

I love the monsoon season, because 30% chance of thunderstorms means there will be one within 30 minutes of where I live; it is the way living atop the Palmer Divide usually works!  I drove about 10 minutes south of home and was able to capture these tonight.  Not as close as yesterday’s lightning by any means, but still pretty cool.  Again, cell phone and daytime pictures so quality is appropriate, daytime lightning is much harder to photograph, especially getting the stepped leaders!  What will tomorrow bring?Rampart Range Lightning Rampart Range Lightning Rampart Range Lightning Rampart Range Lightning


June 3, 2015. Douglas / Elbert County Colorado Supercells

Today the National Weather Service issued an enhanced risk of severe storms for Central and Northern Colorado, likely having Colorado Supercells on the menu!  My original thought was to wait near Prospect Valley and either hit the storms coming off of the Palmer Divide, or head into Northeast Colorado if the cells fired there.  A tried and tested strategy, and it worked once again today.

Larkspur supercell

Larkspur supercell as seen north of Kiowa.

Castle Rock and Franktown supercell

Larkspur supercell as it went through Castle Rock and Franktown.

I was in Bennett at about 2:30pm when the first cell fired up.  Because I was nowhere near home, the cell was over Larkspur put down quarter sized hail.  But this storm was the only play thus far in a good atmospheric environment and given the cap was strong I decided to head south towards Elizabeth and cut off this slow moving storm.  I ended up finding a nice location a couple miles south of Elizabeth and set up the camera for a time lapse.  The Larkspur storm slowly moved NE but it wasn’t tightening up and was obvious that it probably would only produce hail. It ended up completely vanishing within about 30 minutes near Kiowa.

Elizabeth supercell

Elizabeth supercell showing some interesting formations

Elizabeth supercell

Second supercell as it entered Elizabeth.

Meanwhile, the cells behind this supercell merged and took a right turn.  This was an amazing looking cell and I watched it from Elizabeth, then Kiowa.  But like its earlier friend it couldn’t withstand the cap and environment east of Kiowa and quickly died.  The good news is that for my second chase of the season I was home by 9pm, a rare occasion on chase day!

Kiowa supercell

Kiowa supercell as seen east of town.

Kiowa supercell

Kiowa supercell showing some interesting scud formations

Aurora supercell as seen from Hwy 86 near Elizabeth as I was heading home.

Aurora supercell as seen from Hwy 86 near Elizabeth as I was heading home.

Castle Rock clouds

Castle Rock clouds as seen from Hwy 86 near Elizabeth as I was heading home.

Early Season Palmer Divide Lightning

Was sitting down at the computer after the kids were tucked in expecting to do some armchair chasing action with the upper air trough and severe weather digging into the plains states tonight, and started hearing some pellets hit the windows of the house–it was graupel coming down. Graupel is pellets of snow/ice that is much smaller than hail which is not unusual for this time of year. About ten minutes later the first bolt of lightning lit up the house!

Larkspur Colorado Lightning

One of the first bolts I caught, only about 8 or so bolts left in the storm before it was over…

I wasn’t prepared for this like I usually am during the monsoonal flow in late July/early August, so I jumped into high gear and grabbed the tripod and camera and got everything ready. Focus is always a problem with the DSLR but I pointed it at a neighbor’s houselight (I usually curse this light because it is on all night, every night of the year, and makes watching meteorite showers frustrating) but tonight it seemed to have a purpose to get me a good focus as I changed the lens to manual focus mode. As you may know focusing lightning can be very difficult!

I then jumped out on the porch hoping for some visible bolts not obstructed by the clouds and immediately the bolts were flying over head. Being on a porch with lightning this close is extremely dangerous (by definition overhead is very close) so I quickly put the camera on autopilot and headed back to the safety inside.

Larkspur Colorado Lightning

Mother Nature’s show lasted no more than 15 minutes and was very localized; as luck would have it many of the bolts were in the least obstructed view from my porch! Nice! Captured several good shots making me even more excited for this upcoming chase season!


Larkspur alluvial smoky quartz

Over the last 15 or so years I have collected alluvial smoky quartz crystals along the roads in our neighborhood while out and about.  Others in my neighborhood have also shown me crystals they have found.  I have seen some Native American points found in the area made out of smoky quartz too that are quite amazing.

These quartz crystals are alluvial and are obviously a ways from where they started.  I am assuming these originated in the Devils Head area and were ground down as they were transported by glaciers.  Many of these are very gemmy inside and could be used for cutters.

At the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society rock show many years ago I visited a club booth where one of the members found a huge alluvial smoky crystal along Fountain Creek that was on display.  This particular stone was a large gem (perhaps eight inches in diameter) and they had another similar size quartz they found faceted; both came from the creek bed.  That is when I decided that the larger stones don’t facet well (at least to my eye) — although the faceter did an excellent job it just didn’t sparkle like the smaller cuts.

Alluvial Smoky Quartz

My small collection of Smoky Quartz found along the roads near Larkspur Colorado.

Larkspur Smoky Quartz

This one came from a rut at the side of a road under some pine needles

Larkspur Smoky Quartz

This I found just a couple of weeks ago while walking the dog. Very gemmy inside.

Just goes to show that prospecting can be easy and very close to home; just need to keep a trained eye on the ground!

Best of Lightning

I love lightning!

Image taken SE of Parker Colorado, July 13, 2011

Image taken SE of Parker Colorado, July 13, 2011

I love to look at the photos–this is a shortcut to my favorite posts so I don’t have to search.  As always, you can click on any image on this site for a much larger version.

Larkspur Lightning

I have been feeling under the weather all weekend and was dozing off when I thought I heard a rumble of thunder.  As always, that sound just does something to ignite my senses and I sat while awaiting another bolt.  A couple of minutes later one hit less than a mile away lighting up the entire sky and trees.  I quickly grabbed the camera and was able to grab some shots as the storm quickly intensified and headed east.  I can’t say I “chased” this storm, but it was nice to have a break of the doldrums of being sick.

From the back porch, the orange is Castle Rock (yuck) and the violet is the storm.

From the back porch, the orange is Castle Rock (yuck) and the violet is the storm.

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This one was interesting because it looked like a bat when i zoomed into the lightning.  Interesting cloud formation...

This one was interesting because it looked like a bat when i zoomed into the lightning. Interesting cloud formation…

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Backyard Mycology

Need help from all of you with Mycology expertise!  With the steady stream of precipitation this year we’ve had green everything all summer long; the first time since 1998.  We went out into the back yard forest last night and discovered that mushrooms are popping up EVERYWHERE!  I will capture more in the upcoming days but these were some of the different mushrooms we have thus far.  We typically only get the large puffballs, which we have a couple in the front yard right now.

There are a bunch more varieties, but they are all pretty much brown and mostly smaller; pictures didn’t come out too well.  These are the most interesting ones…

Gooey black can't be good!

How gooey can a mushroom get…there were black spots on the ground below this!

Larkspur Mycology - Fly Amanita

Found under a trampoline. Fly Amanita is poisonous.

Larkspur Mycology - Fly Amanita

Fly Amanita cap

Larkspur Mycology - Fly Amanita

Perhaps a Fly Amanita popping up out of the ground? Will know in a few days.

Larkspur Mycology - Fly Amanita

Gilled belly of the Fly Amanita

Awesome colors

Awesome colors! Perhaps a fly agaric? We’ll check back in a few days

The next two I believe are the same, they are in close proximity to each other.  One is by itself while the other is in a pair.  The cap is about an inch-inch and a half in size.

Larkspur Mycology

Still researching this one…

Larkspur Mycology -

Still researching this pair…

There are a couple of these in the taller grass.  Where the gills intersect with the top of the cap they are at the highest point.  The top of the cap is light brown.

Larkspur Mycology -

Still researching this one…

There are about 7 of these growing over a 20 foot semi circle area.  Each cap is between 5 and 8 inches in diameter.

Larkspur Mycology -

Lots of these, 5-7 inches.

This one was cool, really pretty yellow/orange with white spots on the cap.  I’ll check this one again in case the cap opens up in a few days.  The cap is about 2-3″.

Larkspur Mycology -

Great yellow color…still researching…

UPDATE.  Several days later I made a trip completely around the yard.  There are a ton of mushrooms, they are everywhere!  My neighbor came out and asked me what I was doing; then he pointed me to a few in his yard too!

Puffball Action!!!

Spiked Puffball

Spiked Puffball

Spiked Puffball

Spiked Puffball – way cool! About 6″.

Puffball Scleroderma citrinum

Tiny Puffball…Scleroderma citrinum?

Puffballs.  Morganella pyriformis

Puffballs… Morganella pyriformis?



Love the colors on the stalk

Love the colors on the stalk

Looks a bit scarey.

Looks a bit scarey.


Orange Mushroom

Beautiful orange!

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red mushroom

Big red beast, about 8-9″

Like the little guy under the huge 8" shroom.

Like the little guy under the huge 8″ shroom.


Great red color!

Great red color!


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