Melting Blue Delicious

I figured I’d get the music reference out of the way right off the bat with this post title, from the Wild Swans song.  It might not look like it, but the frost on these trees is actually melting, as last Tuesday had a brilliant, sunny blue sky.  Even the thickest hoarfrost’s hours are numbered when the sunlight is blazing.


It wasn’t all trees this time around, however.  There was plenty of other subject matter east of town as I roamed, although I must admit it was all vegetative.


I had two new professional lenses and two high-end polarizing filters in my brand new camera bag, and I was eager to wield them all.  That’s how I was able to accurately portray the beautiful blue of the skies and capture all that sharp detail!


I did find one favorite subject, of course, as the end of my lunch break was approaching.  I had a video conference that simply would not wait, so my day had an unbending structure to it.  I was determined to make the most of the time allowed, however, and I spent the remainder of my available time at this point.


I love the whole “big tree, little tree” thing we’ve got going on here.  It wasn’t more than an hour or two before trees like this one lost their white coat as the sun beat down.


Blue, huh?  What a fantastic experience.  With the cheaper lenses I’d been using until now, these blue winter days would be full of glare and haze.  No longer.  I’m excited to see what I can do with the proper tools.  That, combined with the sheer luck that brings the photos I typically post here, should up my game a little.


Oh, as far as the song reference goes, here’s the video.  Sadly, the version I have is out of print and not available on YouTube either, but this one’s almost as good.

My other candidate, was “Call Me Blue”, since I’m in kind of a 1989 mood all of a sudden:


I shared this particular photo already, because I simply love it so much.  But last Monday I found lots of cool pine trees, each with its own special frosty coating.


Long needles, short needles…conifers are simply at their best when the frost comes along.  Green needles, brown stem-like branches, and a white dusting.  Lovely.


White lines.  There.  I made my music reference for the day.  Technically these needles are leaves, so when winter strips the cottonwoods et al of their broad leaves, we’ve still got plenty of these pointy leaves to photograph.


Fuzzy needles.  Do you know the difference between a spruce, pine, or fir? These shapes are the key.  I thought they were all the same, but (as a geek) I decided to read up on it.


Doesn’t this look like a damsel of some sort?  That’s the vibe I got.  The shapes formed by the branches of these trees really start to become apparent once they’re frosty.


I thought these long-needled branches were my favorite, but then I saw some of the cooler formations of shorter needles and realized that they’re all beautiful.


This isn’t a conifer, but it sure is pretty.  These flat fronds were tipped with white.


I tend to see things through the lens of my Christian faith, so it makes perfect sense that I would see a cross in this branch, at least from the angle at which I noticed and snapped this photo.


These are particularly bushy.  For some reason they remind me of Linus, although I can’t put a finger on exactly why.

Okay…we’ve covered Day One of the frost last week.  Day Two is unique in that it was both frosty and sunny!  I had two new lenses, new polarizer filters, and an hour to wield them.  I think you’ll be pleased when you see the results in an upcoming post.

Not all frost is the same

While I’m posting a bunch of frost photos, let me hearken back to 2009, when the frost took on a decidedly different form.  These long spikes grew along a fence a few miles east of Bismarck.


Don’t get me wrong, I like the thick hoarfrost we had last Monday and Tuesday, but this stuff is unreal.  Of course, the weather conditions were different, and it takes quite a unique set of conditions for frost like this to occur.


Since it’s never exactly the same twice, I’ll never run out of opportunities to chase the weather with my cameras!


Continuing the frost theme for this week – over the lunch hour Monday I was able to find a nice frosty fence to photograph.


The barbed wire collected a thick coat of chunky hoarfrost Sunday night, and it was a welcome sight.  This is one of the more photogenic winter phenomena.


Fuzzy like a caterpillar.  This was some really thick stuff!  It’s hard to even spot the barbs.


Twistin’.  The patterns of the frost are really keen (I was looking for a way to use that word).


There are some of those barbs I was talking about.  I had to be careful not to lean against any of them when I tried to get some of the other shots.


Cool, huh?  The pattern inside the corner of this post is almost organic looking.


Bonus: Here’s the post from a stop sign near our property.  One set of holes ringed with frost, another set completely plugged.

In case you think I’ve exhausted my Monday frost photos, you’re mistaken.  Oh, and there was another batch of hoarfrost on Tuesday as well, but with beautiful, sunny blue skies as a backdrop!  I’ve got an entire lunch hour full of those coming as well.

Critters of a sort

I didn’t get a chance to see these in their most frosty glory, as I was taking lunchtime photos out of town.  I did, however, come up just before sundown to grab some shots.  That actually worked out well; I was able to use some fill flash to separate these wrought-iron beasts from their darkening and blueing backgrounds.


Roll, Bison!  Well, maybe not this guy.  Funny story behind this one.  My kids dubbed it Steve.  When we’d be out driving in my truck we’d make a point to drive by and stop.  Even though we wouldn’t get out, the kids would yell, “Hi, Steve!  Bye, Steve!”  And on we’d roll.  Well, Steve got his picture took Monday night.

Wednesday night sunset

I used to do a LOT of sunsets before becoming a dad.  Now I get the opportunity to run around with my cameras a bit more sparingly, as I prefer to be a loving husband and father.  But tonight I had the opportunity to bolt after leaving my studio, and I caught this wonderful sunset.


Lately the skies haven’t really been great for sunsets…either no clouds at all, or too many for the sun to peek out much.  That, or a long, thick row of clouds along the horizon to choke off any chance the sun had at illuminating the sky.  Well, that wasn’t tonight.

Oh, by the way…I also got out over lunch and got even more frost photos.  Tune in tomorrow…

Three for Tuesday

Last night was foggy again, so I was hoping that Tuesday morning would bring a repeat of Monday’s awesome frost.  Sadly, the sun came out (how often do I say that?) and burned off all the frost.  But that’s okay – I got plenty of shots Monday to share.


I got plenty of close-up shots, but was really looking for something more like this.  Ah, I feel relaxed just looking at this tree out in the hazy field.


Who says winter isn’t photogenic?  And I got all this on my lunch hour!  Well, I went in early and was able to take a ninety minute lunch, but you get the point.  More to come…

The frost comes on little cat feet

Since the Carl Sandburg poem “The Fog” is one of my all-time favorites, my reappropriation of the line of this title for frost is an intentional homage and not a misquote.  The frost which blanketed the Bismarck-Mandan area this morning was a result of the fog rolling in anyway.  I saw the thick haze in the air Sunday night and knew Monday morning would be a treat.


I had an early meeting which prevented me from running around with my cameras in the morning, but I took a long lunch to grab a variety of frosty photos.  Here are two of my favorites, but I have many, many more to share over the next few days.

Oh, and those little cat feet have sauntered into town again tonight, meaning we’ve got more of the same for Tuesday…

Why any submarines in Bismarck-Mandan were nervous Friday

I walked out of a lunch appointment on Friday and immediately noticed a jet on a very unusual trajectory over Bismarck, far out of position compared to the track usually taken on approach to Runway 13.  It was a short leg, and they were still banking south of Main Avenue.  Even better, it was a touch-and-go.  Well, being the curious type, I had to see what was up.  That’s when I snapped this shot and realized it was a Navy plane, not some wayward bus driver or something.


Just doing laps, as you can see.  A few down the Runway 13 way, followed by a few down Runway 31.  Cruising Main, almost.  My flight app did give an ADS-B entry for this aircraft, but being a military plane that was all I got.  The desktop app, however, was blank. No worries, it doesn’t take long with “the Google” to narrow down that this is a P-8A Poseidon.  There’s a good chance it’s from Whidbey Island, home to those F-18s which stopped in for A&B Pizza about this time last year. AirSOC has an article about the P-8A at Whidbey Island, which you can read here.


This is a particularly cool aircraft (Wikipedia), even though it isn’t as exciting as a fighter jet. It’s a sub-hunter, and apparently a pretty modern one.  Just like those F-18s last year, which are actually two-seater Super Hornets loaded with all kinds of electronic warfare equipment, this plane is chock full o’ goodies.  First off, look at all the antennae on the top.  The 737-800 this is based on doesn’t have those.  It’s also capable of deploying anti-submarine weapons once it detects ’em.  Sweet.  Want to know more about some of the toys?  Click on this link.

A few more laps, and they were out of here.  I listened to a little bit of the CTAF banter on my handheld transceiver, then went on with my day.  I had put in a long week, and it was time to knock off early and play photographer for a while.

Cold ones in the fridge

My weekend travels brought me to this little farmstead, where I spent a few pleasant moments with a piece of old farm equipment with the morning sun’s rays streaming from the clouds in the background to the east. Satisfied with our moment together, I turned my attention to the nearby house.

I have a policy of not entering or otherwise tampering with old buildings, but to merely appreciate them from outside. Well, I found myself drawn to the front steps for a quick photo. That’s when I noticed something amusing therein.

The refrigerator in the entry was a happy find. No, I didn’t go in for a closer look, I was happy right here. But given the temperature early Saturday morning, the idea of there being some “cold ones” inside brought a grin to my face.

And as for that old piece of farm equipment? We’ll get to that another time.