A line of thunderstorms was bearing down on our area the night of July 24 and it looked like it might be interesting — it has been a while since I’ve made any lightning pictures. The storm progressed slowly from Southeastern Michigan and Northwest Ohio and across Lake Erie finally beginning its arrival here around midnight. As the storm overran the area, I watched it for lightning potential. Ducking outside and looking up at one point, I was treated to a beautiful “anvil crawler” display nearly overhead!
I rushed to my office and quickly assembled my gear: Canon EOS 6D Mk. 2, wide-angle lens, and tripod. First to the northern side of the house. After some waiting and a couple of “teasers” the storm let loose a magnificent crawler — brilliant lightning crossing the cloud bottoms, branching off to the sides. Turns out, that was the shot of the night though I didn’t know it at the time since I was unable to preview my images. Light rain began to fall and with not enough shelter, I moved to the south side of the house.
It took a while for the storm to progress southward enough for me to see the dwindling cloud-to-cloud lightning flashes but they eventually came. I spent maybe 90 minutes watching the storm, aiming the camera, waiting for the automatic trigger to capture the ephemeral brilliance. Thunder, this night, rolled across the dark countryside for many seconds after each flash before fading away — something I’ve not experienced in quite some time. It was lovely. My sheltered spot on the south side kept camera, lens, and photographer dry throughout, which isn’t always the case. Rain prevented me from aiming the camera as high as I’d have liked. Just a few drops on the camera lens, combined with a bright lightning flash, produces an unusable image.
The storm petered out so, sometime around 1:45 a.m. I went back indoors, and reviewed the images via the camera’s display. Yes! Beautiful stuff! Editing the photos after sleeping for a few hours was the highlight of my Sunday morning.
In future I really need to find a sheltered place, or at least a place where I can park and shoot from my car at night, a spot that has an open view of the countryside and/or town. In the mean time, results from the Saturday night storm were worth the sleep deprivation.
As a storm rolls away and sun breaks through, a double rainbow appears over Medina, Ohio’s old Town Hall and Engine House on Public Square. Dark streaks, anticrepuscular rays, cross the bright rainbow arc.
Returning from a storm interception last night (June 10) and watching the sky from a red traffic signal, I saw a brilliant rainbow glowing against the dark background of clouds. The receding severe thunderstorm was rolling off to the east and the late evening sun was shining through clearing skies in the west. I hoped I could reach Medina’s Public Square before the rainbow faded, since there was the possibility of shooting landmark buildings with a rainbow above. I parked and trotted with my camera across the Square’s green and in light rain, with occasional cloud-crawling lightning overhead, I found my spot. That late sunshine was lighting the bright red top of the city’s old Town Hall and Engine House, dark sky in the background, and — yes! — that brilliant rainbow with a companion arc making the picture. I stood there for a while, shooting the rapidly changing lighting and rainbow intensity and when the sun went away, so did I. I’m very pleased with the resulting picture, which The Medina Gazette published today (at unfortunately low resolution), and I hope it brought a smile to many people who saw it.
Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) patrols the skies over a wetland area in Medina County, Ohio.
This Sunday afternoon was chilly but the sun shown brightly, so I ventured out on a photo walk. I was seeking Sand Hill Cranes that had been sighted at the wetland restoration area of Buckeye Woods Park, Medina County, Ohio. I saw no cranes but did enjoy a flyover by a beautiful Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), a loud concert by Western Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris triseriata), and the sight of a tree full of migrating Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). A nice way to spend an April afternoon.
A Tree Full of Tree Swallows. Migrating Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) take a rest along the open waters of the Buckeye Woods Wetland Restoration Area, Medina County, Ohio.
With snow on the ground, holiday lights lit, in a new town to explore, I set out tonight to see what images I might collect. Medina, Ohio’s Public Square and its surrounding storefronts took on a special feeling all decked out for Christmas. Special attention is paid to the city’s ornate gazebo which now is wrapped in glorious lights. Buildings downtown are outlined in white lights, and even the street lights added to the scene. I walked around the square stopping, now and again, to set up and shoot another view; I did that until my hands hurt — too cold (28F) through thin gloves — and I headed home. Here are two of my favorite shots from the night.
November: Looking East. This is a view of the sky from our back yard. That little smudge just below and left of center is the Pleiades star cluster.
After months of searching and work (a story unto itself) we located and purchased an older ranch-style house on a large lot in Medina, Ohio. We had been living in the house for one week and I decided it was high time I take a look at the night sky! The weather was clear and cold Friday night — about 40 degrees when I ventured outdoors — so I had a look around.
The house is situated one mile from the old town square of this small city on a street lit by two orange, low-pressure sodium lights. A big-box shopping district is located about two miles north of the house with a neighboring city beyond. There’s plenty of light pollution and, to the unaided eye, the clear night sky is gray. I could make out the brightest stars of some constellations, however, and easily spotted the Pleiades star cluster rising in the east. I believe I also made out a wisp of Milky Way, as well! I set up my camera on its tripod and did some test shots to assess the photographic sky.
Stars Struggle to be Seen. Regional light pollution drowns out most of the night sky’s glory.
As you can see by the photos here, the camera easily detects stars we can’t visually pull out of the urban nighttime glow. As expected, more stars can be seen overhead — through less atmosphere and less illumination — than near the horizons. While this isn’t a very good spot for astronomy, it’s not impossible. And while the nighttime conditions may not support stargazing, they do offer some artistic potential.
Firetree. Light-polluted night sky, a neighbor’s bonfire, and a small pond combine to make a pretty scene with a touch of mystery. You work with what you’ve got! Photo by James Guilford.
Signature sculpture of the 2012 Medina Ice Festival.
The morning was relatively mild and sunny and, out of curiosity, we set off for Medina to see their annual Ice Festival. We arrived fairly early with no vendors open, no demonstrations running. The town square was, however, ringed by ice sculptures. Most of the sculptures were pretty clearly business-oriented, featuring the name and logo of the sponsoring company; well done, but, well, let’s say lacking artistic purity. A minority of sponsors let beautiful creations represent them with only a name tag advertising their names. One massive work, a bench with a huge “winter” face as its back, represented the show itself. Sun back-lit many of our favorites, the clear, frosty, cut, and etched ice showing off its carved detail in shining, wet brilliance — air temperature was just enough above freezing to let the sculptures thaw a bit!
Sunshine and a helpfully-parked black trailer highlight the beauty of this cold horse.