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.

Colorado Lightning Composites

Lightning taken SE of Parker Colorado, July 13, 2011

2 Lightning stills merged: SE of Parker Colorado, July 13, 2011

These are some of the timelapse photos I took of lightning on Singing Hills Drive southeast of Parker on July 13, 2011.  I have stacked two images in each of these composites in Photoshop to show multiple CG bolts and stepped leaders per photograph.  The lightning was very intense and close and luckily I was in a clear slot in the clouds avoiding rain and getting a good 25 minutes of solid lightning; one about every 30 seconds or so.

Two Lightning stills merged SE of Parker Colorado, July 13, 2011

Two Lightning stills merged SE of Parker Colorado, July 13, 2011

In Photoshop, I loaded the RAW images and then chose >Scripts >Loads Files into Stack.  From here I was able to choose the “Add Open Files” option and also checked the “Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images” option checkbox.  From the image that it created, all I needed to do is change the layering option to “Lighten” for each of the images.  I started with 4 or 5 images and chose the best two that fit together in each of these shots.

Two Lightning stills merged SE of Parker Colorado, July 13, 2011

Two Lightning stills merged SE of Parker Colorado, July 13, 2011

Would love to hear some of your Photoshop or photography techniques!  Leave comments if you can share anything cool that you do!  I appreciate it!

This next picture was across the street on September 2, 2012.  These were hitting everywhere around me so I had to put the tripod on the porch, put it on auto-pilot, and head inside.  I was able to get three in a row that made this amazing stacked series.  Looks like an outline of a woman–mother nature–Gaia to me.

September 2, 2012 Larkspur Colorado - 3 Lightning stills stacked

September 2, 2012 Larkspur Colorado – 3 Lightning stills stacked


July 13, 2011 Parker Lightning Show

UPDATE: July 2012. I did some updates to WordPress and some older posts using an obsolete gallery program seems to not be working; so I am reposting these pictures, which are some of my favorites, a bit larger in resolution this time.  Seems appropriate day to repost nature’s fireworks since most 4th of July fireworks displays near here have been cancelled…

We were in a Severe Thunderstorm watch this afternoon but as I was chasing all the storms were dead before they got 30 miles east of the foothills, but there was heavy rain, slow moving storms and I knew after dark it would be a great lightning show. I triangulated a great place between a couple of storms and then drove to find a good overlook to the northern storm which was pumping out some great lightning. I had to finally leave once the bolts were a little too close for comfort, but I had a great 30-45 minute session without rain!

The bolts were pretty close so I was shooting on a tripod while safely in the car. The intensity of the bolts were incredible, so it took a little time to a) get the focus set and b) get the aperture setting adjusted–typically I just hit the lowest f-stop; these were all around f5, ISO 400, 42mm. I let it run at 10 second exposures and about every couple of minutes got a bolt!

The bolts were consistently across the valley (I should do a stack in Photoshop…hmmm) but once the storm on my west crept up I started getting rain and the bolts were coming my way so I decided to call it a night.

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Steiner Parker Synthasystem Modular :: Obliq Museum

What an killer synthesizer. The filter is absolutely piercing, it sounds like it could literally shred your speaker.

This was made in the mid-70’s and only a small handful were produced. I doubt you will see many of these go for sale in the upcoming years (if not decade!) and I would be surprised to see one in better shape. This thing can produce some crazy sounds; great for sci-fi type stuff !!!

I was contacted by David Ingebretsen about this unit over the course of several years as he used to work for Steiner Parker assembling synthesizers. He wanted to find everything he could about building the synth that he always wanted. Well, he teamed up with Nyle Steiner and made Steiners avaiable again!!! Check out his website for more information DIY Synthasystem right now!!!

This exact unit was had a cameo in the 2004 documentary on Haack: The King of Techno; this one came from Stony Brook University in New York and was in some of the archive footage.  Bruce Haack used this modular is his early works!

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem – Back :: Power and Keyboard sockets

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem – Keyboard … I love the design of this modular!

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem – Extra controls for the Keyboard

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem Keys

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem

Steiner-Parker Synthasystem – Front Panel closeup

The following text is taken from The A-Z of Analogue Synthesizers, by Peter Forrest, published by Susurreal Publishing, Devon, England, copyright 1994 Peter Forrest

Name: VCO 1
Size (unitwidths): 4

This module is a Voltage Controlled Oscillator, with knobs for frequency (large knob), fine tune (small knob) and pulse width. There is also 4 knobs to attenuate/mix the output levels of each of the four waveforms (triangle, sine, sawtooth, and pulse. Each waveform has two output jacks each. To control the frequency, there are 3 voltage control inputs and one other variable voltage control input. The variable input has a small screw for adjusting the volts per octave. There are also control inputs for phase reset and for pulse width.

Name: VCO2
Size (unitwidths): 2

This Voltage Controlled Oscillator is a simpler in design with knobs for frequency, fine tune, output level of sine waveform and output level of the sawtooth waveform. Sine and sawtooth are the only waveforms available with this module. 3 voltage control inputs control the frequency, one of them being variable with a small screw adjusting the volts per octave. There is an additional control input for phase reset.

Name: VCO3
Size (unitwidths): 1

Simple Voltage Controlled Oscillator with knobs for frequency and level only. There are 2 fixed control inputs and one variable, as well as a phase reset input. This oscillator was probably designed to be used as a control voltage (LFO).

Name: VCF
Size (unitwidths): 2

This is a multimode Voltage Controlled Filter which can be switched via a knob to low-pass, high-pass, or band-pass. There are also knobs for Frequency and for Resonance (Q). There are three signal inputs and two signal outputs. For control voltages, there are two inputs, one of them variable.

Name: Noise
Size (unitwidths): 1

This is a simple Noise Generator with a knob for level, a switch which chooses either white or pink noise, and two signal outputs.

Name: Balanced Modulator
Size (unit widths): 1

This is also known as a Ring modulator with an input for the signal, an input for the carier, and an output for the resulting waveform. There is a knob to adjust the amounts of the signal and the carrier and an adjustment screw (CAR. NULL) for finding the null point. There is also a switch between MULT. and SQUARE.

Name: Input Amp
Size (unit widths): 1

This is an Input Amplifier with three inputs, including one 1/4-inch jack. There is a knob for level 2 switches for selecting low/high gain, and flat/RIAA equalization.

Name: V.C. Trigger Generator
Size (unit widths): 2

This is a Voltage Control Trigger Generator module with a knob for both duration and rate. There are buttons for Gate and Manual, as well as a RUN switch. There are voltage control inputs for rate, duration, and triger gate. There are 4 trigger outputs.

Name: Sample and Hold
Size (unit widths): 1

This module seems to be two Sample & Hold modules in one. It has two knobs for level, two signal inputs, two trigger inputs as well as two signal outs. There is also switch labeled COM.

Name: Triple Envelope Generator
Size (unit widths): 4

“Steiner Parker Envelopes are quite unique. Envelopes 1 & 2 are ADS/ADSR. ADS or ADSR determined by the DAMP switch. Envelope 3 is more complex. It can be either ASD/ASDR or ATD/ATDR (T=Time). Time or Sustain is determined by the EXT switch. Also note that time/sustain segment is before decay.

“The “TRIPLE ENVELOPE GEN.” module has 3 trigger inputs, and 3 CV outputs labelled:
(switches) QTN DAMP

(switches) CON. QTN DAMP

(switches) CON. EXT DAMP

“DURATION = Sustain (I will use S=Sustain and D=Decay in notes below)

“The DAMP feature on Env 1 & 2 dampens the release time. With Damp off, the decay time is also the release time. With Damp on the release time is supposed to be turned off. This is similar to the minimoog’s release on/off (in reverse), but the damp doesn’t work perfectly, so with full decay (about 8 seconds) you get about 1/3 second release time.

“The QTN feature on Env 1 & 2 effects how the envelope responds to a short gate time. With QTN on the Env switches from the attack segment to the decay segment upon release of a note, the decay segment runs from that level. With QTN off the attack segment always completes its full cycle time before the decay then runs its full cycle.

“The EXT feature of ENV 3 determines whether the Duration Time is a fixed duration set by the knob (up to about 3 seconds on mine) or if the Duration Time matches the incoming gate signal.

“The COM. feature on the right side of Env 2 & 3 determines whether the envelope trigger input comes from the respective trigger inputs 2 & 3 or from the Com. 1 trigger input.

“The COM. feature on the left side of Env 2 & 3 determines whether the envelope output goes to the respective output 2 & 3 or to the Com. 1 output. This allows you to layer envelopes to the same destination without an external CV mixer.”
[by Mike Kent]

Name: Tuner Monitor
Size (unitwidths): 2

This module has an input, an output and a mono headphone out 1/4-inch jack. There is a 4 position knob selecting between OUT, MON., TUNE, and T. OUT and a small screw marked REF. TUNE.

Name: VCA/mixer
Size (unitwidths): 2

This Voltage Controlled Amplifier module has three inputs, each with its own Gain knob. There are two voltage control inputs, a knob for overall gain, and one signal out.

Name: ?.
Size (unitwidths): 2

This module has no name. It contains 4 sets of 4 points multiples, two labled for keyboard voltage. The on/off switch is here, as well as connection for power (+12V, -12V, Ground)

Chase: Elizabeth Tornado June 15, 2009

What a great day.  Here is a chase log for the tornadic supercell that started in Larkspur!  Saw two tornadoes and followed the storm into Western Kansas.

First and foremost, Happy Birthday Daphne!

There was a moderate risk issued by the SPC for much of Kansas today, and that was my initial target, but I got a late start as I was awaiting UPS to deliver my new HD Canon VIXIA HF-20 camcorder, I’ve been anxious to check this baby out!  What a day to do it!  Eastern Colorado was in a Slight Risk area.  Note that at the end of this document I have a YouTube URL of some of the video footage I took, make sure and check that out too!

I left home about 12:30 and looking north I saw some awesome convection, so I immediately chose to go to my favorite spot about 10 miles east with a 360 view.  The storm was definitely looking great and it was severe thunderstorm warned, here is what I saw from my house…

Larkspur supercell

Storm exploding as I was leaving my driveway

Here is what I saw when I got to my favorite spot…this is looking over west Parker.

North of Larkspur

Looking north from Larkspur area, starting to hail.

Again, the radar showed that this storm was Severe warned, my guess is for hail (as seen in the above picture) but I haven’t looked at the warning yet.  Notice on the Baron unit that it shows some rotation on the southern section of the storm, about 5 miles to my east (I’m the little white car in the center of the radar, the “yellow rings” denote 10 miles radius from my GPS location!!

Elbert County Radar

Radar showing the cell as it entered Elbert County

Then, out of the northern section of the storm this formation formed.  It was not really rotating, at least not enough to get excited about, but it was really cool looking!  I got the tripod setup and the camcorder recording.  I have some great footage of this formation (time lapsed it is awesome) of the storm.


Great formation; no rotation even though it looks like a funnel

Meanwhile, looking back at the radar, the southern end of this storm was really starting to churn.  Could this be a lucky day to see a tornado?  I was hopeful at this time!  Still no tornado warning or watch box, both that would be issued in the next 30 minutes.

Radar when rotation was visible

Storm starting to curl up and rotate on the southern flank. I called the NWS and reported quick rotation.

Then, I noticed the rotation in the southern flank of the storm.  It started just below cloud level and creeped down towards the ground.  It was about 6-7 miles away at this time.  I called the NWS at this time to report a funnel cloud and the intense rotation.  This was taken at 1:28pm.  So far, I’m about 7 miles from home on this chase! 😉

Funnel forming

Funnel forming.

Slowly but surely the funnel took a typical funnel shape.  This reminds me of the funnel I saw in the Badlands of South Dakota in 2005 and the one in extreme SW Nebraska on June 1 this year.  I couldn’t confirm that it was on the ground yet, though, as the hill was in the way, so I was still calling this a funnel.

Funnel slowly forming

Structure is awesome, funnel was slowly forming

The funnel slowly started to get bigger so by this time it was nice and fat.  I can’t confirm if it was on the ground yet or not.  I was hearing eye-witnesses at the time on the radio saying it was a HUGE tornado.  All I can say it was taking its time and it was something amazing to watch!

Nice funnel cloud

Nice funnel cloud

Guessing, I would say it is on the ground now.  This shot was taken at 1:40pm.

Debris on the ground

I could finally see debris on the ground

It is definitely on the ground now, I can see the debris cloud.  This was taken at

Tornado roping out

Tornado roping out

Yet another look at the tornado as it was bouncing up and down from within the cloud, but the whole time I observed debris swirling on the ground even though at times I couldn’t even see a funnel!

Second tornado

Second tornado

The tornado went out of view because of the rain and thus forced me to actually chase this storm! 😉  I jetted down to HWY 83 and then east on my favorite back roads towards Elbert.  At one point when there wasn’t buttes in the way I could see a rotating funnel.

Third and forth tornado

Third and forth tornado

Then this funnel occluded and another tornado formed just to the NE of it.  I had one better view of the tornado just before this, it was a bit fatter but driving and taking a picture I haven’t mastered yet, so I only got the clouds above it.

The chase

Trying to catch up to the storm as it continues to put down tornadoes

I met up with a couple of first time chasers about this time and we drove out to HWY 24.  This was taken before Calhan, there was definitely rotation still going on, visually and also on the radar.

Still active rotation near Calhan

Still active rotation near Calhan

Here’s another wall cloud that was forming right off the road to the SE of me!  Strong rotation but no funnel.

Heading towards Kansas

Heading towards Kansas

So I followed this storm all the way to Kansas as it was really the only storm within range and proven itself, why leave it.  At Burlington I had to punch through the storm and I figured now was my chance or the storm would get south of me (bad viewing from the North side) in VERY rural Western Kansas where there was limited road access.  Plus the storm had passed the dryline and was getting into much more instable air.  The supercell took on a whole different shape and life at this point.  As I came out of the storm this is what I saw looking south.  Notice the green “veins”, I’ve never seen this before, it was beautiful structure.  I stopped at the rest area to get some better shots, but the storm was picking up speed and the hail I went through was likely getting bigger, so there was no time to take pictures at this time.  Note that this storm had been tornado warned pretty much solid since Elbert County, although I didn’t see any tornadoes with it.  The shot was taken at 6:27 pm MDT.

South of Goodland, awesome structure

South of Goodland, awesome structure

I got to Goodland and headed south.  As soon as I was far enough out of town I had to stop and take some pictures of this amazing supercell structure!  This shot was south of me, you can see the other chasers (smartly) trying to beat the hail coming.

South of Goodland, awesome structure

South of Goodland, awesome structure

This is right in front of me (notice the STOP sign, really appropriate this day!), and after getting a quick shot with my camcorder I headed south again.  Unfortunately the storm was completely changing and reforming at the time and I ended up getting into the hail core.  It was like a hurricane, the winds, totally horizontal, and the hail coming down looked like waves on the road…no joke.  Am I in a hurricane in Western Kansas?

Amazing structure!

Amazing structure!

Shortly I was out of the precipitation and I had to decide if I was going to try and go north again and catch the wrong side or the storm, or head south  and parallel it.  Since the storm motion was ESE I decided to get a little south of it and then take the diagonal HWY 40 out of Sharon Springs.  I decided to do the south route in hopes of getting some good view of storm structure, which I did.  Nice beaver tail action on this baby!

South of supercell

South of supercell

The southern end of the storm that was so intense just 30 minutes before was quickly fizzling out as it intercected my HWY 40 route.  I took State Road 25 north to Colby in one last effort to catch the intense part of the storm.  Then decided it was time to head home as I didn’t feel like staying out too late (had to work in the morning) for lightening shots, plus these storms were moving quick.


I guess “gold” in western Kansas is grain, which these rural towns are built upon, as I discovered in this shot.


Goodbye Storm!

I have some pretty neat footage that I’ve made available on YouTube in High Definition as I got some footage that was completely different than all the footage I’ve seen thus far from this storm.

Overall, 13 hours on the road, about 660 miles.  My 4th day this season chasing.