Photo hikes in nature can present one with surprises. We visited the Lorain County MetroParks’ Sandy Ridge Reservation hoping and expecting to see an assortment of birds native to that wetland. What we did not expect to see along the way is, well, what you see here: a couple of small snakes literally hanging from and on trees! The first was a Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon) stretched out along the skimpy branch of a tree along the trail. When we first saw the dark-colored reptile, a spot of sun was shining on it from between the trees; perhaps it was catching some rays to warm its cold blood. The snake allowed fairly close approach and did not move at all during the “photo session.” On the way back from enjoying the birds — there’s a long hike through a heavily-wooded area between parking lot and wetland — we spied another little snake. Snake number two had hung itself vertically on the trunk of a tree, head curved out parallel to the ground. The tree-hanging Butler’s Garter Snake (Thamnophis butleri), like the water snake, held perfectly still during our entire time watching and photographing it. Snakes alive, what a surprise!
A train of strong thunderstorms rumbled through Ohio late Monday night. In some areas the storms were declared severe, even dropping a tornado or two, damaging trees and homes. Here, we were treated to needed rain and a brilliant light show.
Most of the lightning discharged somewhere in the clouds, the bolts unseen but lighting up the sky in brilliant repeated flashes. The sparks themselves could occasionally be seen and a few were spectacular.
Over the course of an hour or so, I managed to capture several cloud-to-cloud strikes, most of which were fairly ordinary for such an active storm. I did see work from another photographer, who has a perch overlooking Lake Erie, in which twisted arcs fill the sky and reflect from the lake waters. I do miss Lake Erie.
For all of us not asleep, the storms brought a lightning-brightened night and an opportunity to witness and record something of Nature’s power.
Storm clouds flowed overhead at the edge of a storm seen from rural Medina County (Ohio) but light could be seen on the horizon. “Even in the midst of the storm the sun is still shining.” ― Dayna Lovely
The first storm (above) was one I intercepted based upon radar tracking the evening of June 20. The gust front or outflow boundary was being pushed along by strong gusts of wind, probably peaking at about 30 MPH, followed in due course by moderate rain. Photos from others, in neighboring Lorain County, Ohio show that by the time the cloud formation reached me it was beginning to dissipate. Fun to watch and, as the gusts rocked my parked car, an exciting experience as well.
The image below was a target of opportunity. I driving to Portage County the evening of June 24 when, from the Ohio Turnpike, I watched a storm developing and dropping beautifully silhouetted rain streamers beneath dark clouds and against a bright horizon. I was frustrated that there was nowhere safe to stop and record the view so, as soon as I exited the toll road, I pulled over and shot what I could. Maybe not as dramatic as my highway views but an interesting sight, nonetheless! This photo is an assemblage of several individual images to create a panorama.
UPDATE: A small giclée canvas print of this image was contributed to the annual “In the Pink” show and raffle hosted by Hudson Fine Art & Framing Company in Hudson, Ohio. Proceeds from the sale benefit The Gathering Place, a local organization; their mission is to support, educate, and empower individuals and families touched by cancers through programs and services provided free of charge. I am pleased to have been a part of the show and fundraising effort! For more information on The Gathering Place please visit www.TouchedByCancer.org.
This started out to be an excellent year for photography. In addition to my still work, I was preparing to make my first nature film. Then we decided to buy a house and move. I look back at this blog now and fully realize how fully I dropped my artistic efforts. Finding, buying, and preparing a poorly-maintained house took the balance of summer and, now, the best of autumn. I hope it will be worth it. I do want to share here a photo I have come to love: it is both realistic and dreamlike; it is my remembrance of the seasons passed.
I enjoy photographing lightning. Most of the storms that visit this part of the country arrive with wind, rain, and then lightning and are too “wet” for me to shoot. Those storms that arrive “dry,” with lightning first, seem rare. We had two of those dry, photo-op storms recently. The first, on July 8, I documented here earlier. The second, the night of July 13, didn’t give me much time between its approach and the arrival of rain but did give me an excellent image. Appearances can be deceiving but the spectacular lightning bolt shown here may be the most powerful I’ve ever photographed. Before you say anything: yes, I am careful and shoot only from protected locations!
The night of July 8 started out with my wanting to photograph the Moon and Jupiter together in the western sky. There they were, hanging in the dark with a wisp of cloud lending mystery to the scene. It was lovely.
Then clouds began to obscure Luna’s bright crescent. Thicker and thicker came the clouds and then, above the horizon, clouds lit up with flashes and thunder rumbled… a thunderstorm was coming! I was expecting storms to arrive later but there I was, all set up and ready to record the show!
I looked to the south and not yet reached by the approaching weather was the beautiful sight of brilliant planet Mars and the stars of constellation Scorpius. Lovely to see but about to be upstaged!
I made a lot of exposures, mostly showing clouds illuminated by hidden lightning though after the fact I discovered there had been faint streaks in the open all along. Sometimes the whole sky seemed to light up.
As the storm grew closer, the lightning grew more intense until nicely-placed lightning bolts appeared and I got my best shot of the night. Only moments after that final good exposure the wind grew and rain began to fall, forcing me indoors.