Shot through a chain link fence, but I got it

This is the kind of photo that you want to edit while listening to Joel Porter (which you should do anyway).  We had a spectacular sky leading up to sunset tonight, and I was way out of position when I noticed it.

 

What had really caught my eye was this blazing hole in the clouds, and the swirling wisps behind it.  I pulled to the side of the road, found a gap in the tall chain link fence in my way, and started snapping some shots before the clouds shifted too much.

 

And it did within the span of a couple of minutes.  The sun moved into this little window, and the various clouds morphed and drifted until the hole was completely gone.  But I’d caught what I needed.

I’m not always so lucky.  Last night, while trying to get home with four TCBY waffle cones for my family still intact, I just barely missed an amazing cloud in the east.  So it was nice to be able to catch this.  A friend texted me that he was taking his camera down to the river to catch the coming sunset, but I went home to watch it on the deck with my wife.  That’s one of our favorite things to do.  I’d been on the road for work all day, and just staring up at the sky without having to try to capture it in a photo was some nice R&R indeed.

Double Ditch dash

Wednesday night’s clouds were too good to resist.  I wanted a fresh photo spot for them, but with a tiny window looking like it might present itself I opted to just find a nice high spot.  Double Ditch was the most obvious choice, although the entire site is lined with orange construction fence and heavy equipment right no.  It made for some challenges, but it also forced me to consider some angles I hadn’t before.

 

Right as I got there, a little sliver opened up in the clouds on the horizon, beaming brilliant rays of color all over the place.  Thankfully I had just dashed across the prairie grass and rolls of the Double Ditch terrain and set up to the south of the little stone hut I know so well.

 

As soon as the gold light abated, I worked feverishly to capture some of the remaining purples and pinks that managed to sneak through the otherwise diffused sunset light.  The horizon had closed off again, but plenty of color managed to find its way through the low, dense clouds that had brought me here in the first place.

 

There were some clear spots from time to time, with blues and even pinks making fleeting appearances.  The clouds were moving very quickly, and many were close to the ground.  That’s why I was here, as I’ve mentioned.  They didn’t disappoint.

 

This is the only view I could get from the stone wall without featuring dirt berms, orange fencing, and/or earth moving equipment.  Thankfully the clouds did their part.

 

I was walking back to the truck when I realized there was a different kind of show taking place to the northeast.  This turned into a cell that dropped a bunch of rain on northeast Bismarck on its way through the area.

 

This was a quick dash, but I’m so glad I took it.  The skies were really dramatic, with low, fast-moving clouds, and although I didn’t expect any grand sunset light I was treated to a few minutes anyway thanks to that sliver opening up on the horizon.  As with any sunrise or sunset, being there in case something happens paid off big.

Dramatic clouds east of Bismarck-Mandan

clouds_44287-9_fusedA couple of nights ago I saw these really wild clouds east of town, and had to snap a photo once I got home.  They remind me of jellyfish in a way…tendrils hanging down and all that.  Or perhaps something from a science fiction feature?

 

clouds_44317-9_fusedThese reminded me of birds, perhaps blue jays.  I got home just in time to catch some golden light reflecting off the clouds, so they looked even more dramatic.

Work and stuff is so chaotic right now that I haven’t had much time to chase any sunrises or sunsets, so to catch these clouds at such an opportune time was a really nice break!

Waitin’ around pays off

bethel_church_43477-9_hdrI camped out by this former church in Morton County to allow the sunset to do its thing.  A row of storms had just moved through, and I had correctly guessed that the clouds tagging along the tail end of those storms would provide a lot of color to the sunset.  I was correct.  But I wasn’t done just then…

 

bethel_church_43550Waiting for the sun to go down and the moon to come up gave me the opportunity to capture some different clouds, albeit with stars sprinkled in as well.   To top it all off, my friend Zach and I headed out to a different prairie church, the one I wrote about a couple of days ago.

Starlight steeple

starlight_church_43558I don’t even remember how I located this old church, but it had to do with Google Earth and Garmin Mapsource.  This little church is in the middle of nowhere, not on a main road, surrounded by trees, and absolutely wonderful.  I had another old church to explore at sunset, so this one became a twilight target.

 

starlight_church_43555It’s a remarkable little building…while not fenced or posted, it looks privately owned.  I didn’t even consider going inside, although looking through the windows showed an intact structure with a choir loft, pews, and everything.  How fortunate the owner must feel!

 

starlight_steeple_43563After some long exposure shots it was time to head home.  I had a flat tire in my near future, a blowout actually, but I didn’t know it.  Thankfully that waited until I was in city limits, although still on I-94.  That made for a later night than planned, but I’m sure glad I was able to explore this awesome find!

Clouds over St. Vincent’s

st_vincents_church_40177-9_hdrI actually took this photo a month ago while roaming Morton County.  I was on my way back into town and found myself northwest of Mandan, so I decided to stop over and catch some shots of this church before bouncing down a section line.  The clouds were pretty remarkable, giving an excellent background to this place of worship.

 

st_vincents_church_40204-6_hdrI’d had a fruitful day with the camera, but when I had the combination of this church and this sky to play with, this was one of the most fun stops of my entire day!

Thursday night thunderhead

clouds_ip_8571We were treated to quite a show here in Bismarck-Mandan tonight.  I was on the east end of Bismarck when I spotted this building cloud to the west.  The sun had just moved behind it, making that “silver lining” glow like a bolt of lightning.  And oh, the rays!

 

clouds_ip_8564My little boy thought it looked like God was playing hide and seek behind the cloud, and I couldn’t argue that assessment.

 

cloud_38620-2_fusedBefore long it was in full bloom and moving overhead, so I grabbed my camera from the back of the truck (the previous photos were from my iPod) and snapped one more shot before the cloud dissipated even more.

Wow, what a beautiful sky tonight, eh?

Blue Moon redux

blue_moon_34541Several nights ago a photo pal and I went out to catch the sunset.  It came together rather suddenly and with very little time before the sun actually set, but we hastily set out to see what we could capture.

We were heading toward a little spot I’ve rediscovered north of Bismarck, but due to time constraints we stopped at Double Ditch instead.  The sky was ready to deliver an amazing sunset, with brilliant colors already developing and dramatic clouds.  That’s when it happened: two opposing clouds crossed each other from our perspective, essentially covering the sun and snuffing out the aforementioned brilliance.  Bummer.

We made the best of it (in fact, my last post came from this trip) and came away with some pretty cool shots.  Then we saw the rising moon behind us.  We had an idea for another familiar spot down the road with that moon in the background, also dancing with some dramatic clouds, so we hopped in the Monster Truck and headed back that way.

That’s when it happened: in exactly the same fashion, two clouds scissored together and sliced our beautiful moon from view just as we were rolling up to our stop.  Really.  We hiked a little anyway to see if something would develop, but all that we got for our efforts was a few dozen fresh mosquito bites.

The trip home involved a stop at the Hoge Island boat landing parking lot.  There wasn’t much to see…or was there?  The moon began to peek out, and there was an interesting line of trees…so, what the heck.  We hopped out in the middle of the gravel parking lot, set up the sticks, and took a crack at it.

We had a brief moment of luminescence in the clouds and an unobstructed moon before hopping in the truck and making our way home.  I often say that any photo trip resulting in even one pleasing shot is a success.  This one, bug bites and all, certainly fit that category.  When you’ve got the fellowship of a dear friend, even coming home empty handed would be just fine, too.

Ray of light

airport_rays_4599Clouds can make or break a photo.  Sometimes they obscure the sun just as the skids are about to get interesting.  Other times they provide just the right circumstances for a dramatic photo.  This is obviously the latter.

Taking a sunrise or sunset photo without any clouds just doesn’t work.  They perform an essential service in making the skies more interesting.  Whoa..did I just stumble upon a metaphor for life just now?