Tuesday night turbulence

clouds_42486I worked late Tuesday night, and when I left my south side studio at just after 9pm I was blown away by the clouds to the south.  I’m told this cell actually put down a tornado somewhere to the west.  I was concerned more with the colors, oblivious to what it was doing down along the ground.

I bolted as fast as I could in the new truck to find a spot where I could try to capture the color.  I know how fleeting that sunset light can be, and last night was no exception.  As I got set up and mosquitoes as big as dimes began to swarm around me, a cloud moved in along the western horizon and choked off that amazing light.  There was more than what you see here when I first bolted in search of a suitable spot, and almost immediately after I took the shot these clouds faded into dull blues and grays.

Tail end of the storm

stormy_tree_42193As the driving rain made its way past Bismarck-Mandan on Saturday morning I was hatching a plan to follow behind it.  I had to head to north central North Dakota anyway to pick up some kids from a church camp, so what better way to spend a Saturday morning than depart very early and work in a bunch of camera time along the way?

I’ve stopped at this particular spot along Highway 3 many times, but never had a really dramatic sky to work with.  That was not the case on Saturday.  There were crazy clouds moving in all directions at around 400 feet or so (if my eyes deceive me not) and the deep blue of the departing storms was a wonderful offset.

Not only did my plan work: I got plenty of photos in various locations with the dramatic skies in the background, but I also found a lot of new locations and took photos there, and I was able to mark a bunch of potential future spots for the next time I head northeast.  Trifecta.

My cameras and I were busy over the last few days, though.  More on that later.

I bet it’s seen lots of these storms

windmill_storm_40782-4_hdrYesterday’s storms missed my family’s abode, but they did cause plenty of excitement east of Bismarck-Mandan.  I took the opportunity to venture out with my boys and my new used truck to see what the clouds were doing.  Thankfully they obliged – I caught this shot not far northeast of Bismarck.  Wow.  I also got some cool video, but I don’t have time to post it just yet.  Maybe I’ll update the post later.

This old windmill, weathered as it is, has probably seen quite a few storms roll through.  It looks as though it’s probably been battered by them, too.  Is there any wonder why I’m so attracted to this feature of the North Dakota prairie?

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?

Frosty four wheelin’

frosty_4x4_36458Lately the temperature swings have made for some cool frost.  Not the long spiky kind, unfortunately, but frost just the same.  This is one knobby on the tire of my truck, and it caught my eye as I was getting ready to head out with my camera the other day.  This was before the current warm stretch, of course.  I hope I can start getting back out with my camera more, just like the old days…

The reason I got rained on

I’m sad to say I haven’t been doing much with my cameras lately.  I’m happy to say it’s no longer because of medical issues, surgeries, travel, or recovery, but because we’ve moved into a brand new house and I have plenty to do. I am, however, starting to get out on my motorcycles more, and tonight I took one to church..

After church I grabbed an ice cold Dewski from B&J along with a bag of BBQ chips, then sat on the steps of the Capitol to ponder Psalm 51 with the Bible I keep on board my Kawasaki.  As I was wrapping up, I saw lightning to the west and some ominous looking clouds.  Then the wind came up, and I figured it might be high time to skedaddle before I got drenched.  But on my way home I saw some amazing clouds, and had to stop along the way to take a couple of shots:

stormy_skies_ip_6525This one’s pretty wild…the photo just doesn’t do it justice.  The rays streaking out from that window in the clouds were bold and strong.  It didn’t take long for that window to close, either…so I’m glad I was able to get the shot by pulling over to the side of the road and scrambling for a camera.  This was facing west.  To the east of me was an equally impressive show.


stormy_skies_ip_6507This one’s my favorite of the two.  The combination of the sweeping lines leading to the towering head of the cloud, the ceiling of dark clouds advancing overhead, and the column of heavy rain spewing out the bottom of the cloud in the center of the photo made for a great roadside capture.

At this point I was getting a little nervous, as I’d felt a few sprinkles here and there.  I bolted home in hopes of beating the rain.  I could tell that precipitation was spotty, as I drove across sections of road that had obviously seen rain…but was myself dry right up until I turned on my street.  That’s when the skies opened as I bolted the last block to my garage.  I didn’t get soaked to the bone, but I did feel some pretty heavy drops smack my helmet as I scrambled down the home stretch, feeling the sting through the lightweight Nike shirt I’d worn due to the oppressive afternoon heat.

Let’s see…a good church service, a snack and some Bible meditation, a little bit of motorcycle riding, and two cool photos?  I’d call that a Sunday Evening Success.

Tail end of the storm

storm_34805As I’ve mentioned, I’m a homeowner again.  Since we’ve got water behind us and there was plenty of rain on the way, I opted to hang out and see how the new place handles near flash-flood conditions.  Not a drop of water in the sump, I’m pleased to report.

So instead of being staked out near some sort of old farm stuff or a really cool tree, I’m just shooting across the way from my deck.  I got some amazing cloud shots, but I’m pressed for time.  I just like the contrast of color in this one and wanted to share.

Back for some color

berries_32257This is kind of a bleak time of year for photo enthusiasts.  What little foliage exists from last year is brown.  The nice, white blanket of snow is gone, and the ground beneath it: brown.  Even the water of the Heart River, where I’ve been poking around lately: brown.  Sigh.  So I went back a couple of months to find these photos from the capitol area.


berries_32261It’s nice to see such brilliant color disrupt the drab colors of a gloomy North Dakota winter day.  It’s going to be a while before we’re treated to lush green again, although I did see plenty of green blades of grass when walking along the dike in Mandan last week.


berries_32264Spring she comes, spring she teases…but oh, how winter freezes.  We’re in for a cold snap again after being treated to sunny 70s.  Bummer.  Hopefully we can have a glorious Spring soon…this past winter seemed far too long!

Car Bodies

ice_piers_33333I’ve always been amused with the way places get certain names, ones which last for decades or longer.  Around the World is one such name.  The hills below BSC have an interesting name I won’t post here.  Then there’s Car Bodies in Mandan.  Even an official Morton County web page acknowledges the name, since it clearly isn’t going away.  It probably goes back to the fifties or so, who knows?

I’ve been told that ice would be cut and hauled out of the river in this place.  There was clearly a dock of some sort here, as you can see above.  There are some segments of steel cable protruding from the dirt of the river bank, as well.

I haven’t gone underwater here, so I don’t know if there are even any car bodies below the surface at Car Bodies.  It would make sense, though.  I’ll try to recall any other sites with cool names and post them here if I come up with anything.


Piling up

spring_ice_33370Now’s that time of Spring where we photographers look for piles of ice in all the right places: places where water slows down and/or takes a curve, in the shade, or both.  As the rivers clear themselves they push ice further downstream and off to the sides, and an opportunistic photo enthusiast can easily find themselves some chilly photo subjects in stark contrast to the beautiful Spring skies and warm sunshine.

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”  – Charles Dickens

Now’s the time to photograph what’s left of the ice before it remains!