Archive for October, 2013

In the depths of the Preseli Hills

Hello All,

It’s late and I’m typing a blog…things must be bad. Had a bit of a tiring day overall and now the wind is blowing hard outside so I probably won’t get much sleep. I can tell Friday is going to be heaps better!

Anyway, enough moaning.

On occasion, when I am at a loose end (fewer and fewer of those) I head up into the Preseli Hills north of where I live. When I first had my camera I noticed a ruined building out in the fields off the road as you climb over the pass. In the first instance, I thought it was private and I shouldn’t approach it but after a while I though “Forget that, let’s have a look”.

As with all good trespassing opportunities, there’s very little handy parking nearby so it’s a take-your-life-in-your-hands walk along a blind verge to get to the gate where there’s what looks like an old railway car rotting away…

Quite why this is here is a mystery to me but it's very atmospheric

Quite why this is here is a mystery to me but it’s very atmospheric

Then there a bit of a steep incline down the hill towards the “farm”…I presume it was a farm which, on this occasion, was absolutely surrounded by sheep. The Preselis are a prime grazing area and also this are is also used for managed timber (which you can see in the top part of this picture partly covered by the clouds).

You can almost hear the howling wind.....

You can almost hear the howling wind…..

Quite a ramshackle affair isn’t it? I can assure you that it’s not better inside. In fact I only ever went in once when I first ventured down there…I daren’t now as the whole place looks on the verge of collapse! Mind you, if you want slate tiles or corrugated iron, this is the place to come.

Went a bit bonkers with the black and white filter I'm afraid...

Went a bit bonkers with the black and white filter I’m afraid…

Discretion being the better part of valour on hearing the engine of a quad bike, I started to wander back up the hill think what excuse would be plausible for a rustic Welsh farmer…or whether I would even be able to understand them. Look back down you can see that the areas is on the edge of a little fir copse and the area is pretty wet and boggy, hence the small patches of reeds.

Lucky I was wearing boots here, it looked quite dry until I stepped on this area!

Lucky I was wearing boots here, it looked quite dry until I stepped on this area!

Walking next to the trees I was quite taken by how straight they are, even though this is one of the few places that always seems to be windy in the county. I crouched down a little to get a bit more perspective to get this picture…

The trees really were this green, I said it was very wet!

The trees really were this green, I said it was very wet!

Overall though, I do like it here. there is a reservoir nearby too that I have also featured on my blog but it looks blooming awful at the moment as all of the tree have been cut down both sides of it. In fact, I say cut, I really mean shaved. It looks horrible. Mind you, trees are a crop like any other I suppose, so I can’t blame them for cashing in.

Later that week, I was looking at taking some sunset pictures and I managed to actually catch a picture of something I usually only see a fleeting glimpse of….iridescence. Nothing spectacular and quite faint (along the inside of the “C” shape), but unusual nevertheless.

Sometimes you don't have to have a sunset to have pretty colours

Sometimes you don’t have to have a sunset to have pretty colours

The science bit…..

Iridescent clouds are a phenomenon caused by small water drops or small ice crystals individually scattering light. Larger ice crystals produce halos.

If parts of clouds have small droplets or crystals of similar size, their cumulative effect is seen as colors. The cloud must be optically thin, so that most rays encounter only a single droplet. Iridescence is therefore mostly seen at cloud edges or in semi-transparent clouds..

There’s another thing you have learnt from me. But please, don’t go staring at the sun looking for this…it’s dangerous!

Until next time, take care and thanks as ever for dropping by.

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Birth of a sunset..again

Hello!

Yes, I know I have done this before and apologies if you know the science, but this summer there were an unusually large amount of pretty decent sunsets to snap around here so I have a pretty full card of them and this was one of the best of the bunch.

True, many people like sunsets, but I have heard many of those look at a nice clear day and remark “going to be a nice sunset today”…no, it’s not, where’s the colour? Where’s the reflection from the clouds? If you don’t have that, it’s hardly even worth looking at to be honest. What follows below is the my definition of a nice sunset!

Firstly, you have to have a few bits and bobs of clouds waaaaay up there. They catch the colors of the sun as it gets very low and turns into the pinky reddy hues, but more about that later…

Ooooh, a good candidate for a nice sunset...

Ooooh, a good candidate for a nice sunset…

Moving on, this stuff up there in the sky needs to stick around, if there’s a wind and it’s blowing away your cirrus (very high cloud), this is bad news as there will be nothing way up for the colours to reflect from. However, if there is a mix of high and low as per my example, that’s even better, as there are lots for the colour to reflect from…

Sun just touching the horizon and the colours starting to scatter....

Sun just touching the horizon and the colours starting to scatter….

Time rattles by and those pink and reds come into play, this is where one of the few pieces of atmospheric science I know that I can quote (I have actually passed this on to a couple of fellow photographers when taking pictures, as most people pack up as soon as the sun dips below the horizon; I encourage them to stay and I hope they are glad they did).

Because the sun is low on the horizon, sunlight passes through more air at sunset (and sunrise, but I’m in bed). More atmosphere means more molecules to scatter the violet and blue light away from your eyes. If the path is long enough, all of the blue and violet light scatters out of your line of sight. The other colours continue on their way to your eyes. Because reds and such have the longest wavelength of any visible light, the sun is red when it’s on the horizon, where its extremely long path through the atmosphere blocks all other colours…and as it travels below the line of the horizon it can get redder and project this onto those lovely high(er) clouds to produce an effect such as those following. From this……

And the pink arrives!

And the pink arrives!

…to this, in 9 minutes.

Now that's a sunset, nice curvy bases to the reflecting clouds too, very nice

Now that’s a sunset, nice curvy bases to the reflecting clouds too, very nice

They are my favourite type of sunsets. Don’t get me wrong, I like them all, but I do love the red ones…have a picture of one on my phone at the minute too!

Now I can’t make this post all about one sunset sitting can I? So, for all of those who have stuck with me, here’s a double rainbow just for you…

next time you see a rainbow, look for the inverted colours and Alexanders Band

next time you see a rainbow, look for the inverted colours and Alexanders Band

For those who loooove de science, please refer to the extract for Mr Wikipedia;

Secondary rainbows are caused by a double reflection of sunlight inside the raindrops. As a result of the second reflection, the colours of a secondary rainbow are inverted compared to the primary bow, with blue on the outside and red on the inside. The secondary rainbow is fainter than the primary because more light escapes from two reflections compared to one and because the rainbow itself is spread over a greater area of the sky. The dark area of unlit sky lying between the primary and secondary bows is called Alexanders Band, after Alexander of Aphrodisias who first described it.

Now, I never knew any of that, so I hope you learnt something! It made me look at my picture harder and it does indeed have the colour inversion which I had never noticed before. Fascinating!

Right, that’s the lot for today. Next time NO SUNSETS, honest..I promise, I have few other subjects up in the hills I took pictures of that I will share. Thanks for stopping by and see you soon.

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From “Mares Tail” to Storm

Hello all,

Hope we are well. Autumn has well and truly appeared here in Wales with a bit more rain (we have actually not had all that much over the Summer, so much so that many of the small creeks and rivers have been dry for weeks) and colder mornings and evenings. I have reverted to a winter wardrobe…..

To the pictures! It was only when I picked the pictures I was going to use in this post that I realised, looking at the dates and time attributed by my good old Nikon, that they actually followed the natural progression of a weather event. What are the odds? I was only picking them as they were striking.

The images were all taken within a window of around 3-4 hours on 11.05.2013 and hopefully will show you that, although we are no exciting weather chasing destination here in Wales, there is a lot of variety. Cirrus “Mares Tails” (not the plant) are, in folklore, often said to be the precursor to a storm so I shall leave you to form your own opinion here.

Firstly, when I was out in the garden, I noted an unusual cirrus formation. Usually, the cirrus we see over us is patchy, spread out. However, this was almost like a lace blanket being pulled over the top of us made up of masses of “Mares Tails”…

Cirrus "Mares Tails" heading towards the Preseli Hills over the house

Cirrus “Mares Tails” heading towards the Preseli Hills over the house

That was that for a little while but then we got a few showers and squalls pass over the top of us and off towards the hills. For some reason when we get these showers appear, they always appear over the line of the major road in the distance and follow it. Poor drivers!

A shower in the distance drenching the main road out of Haverfordwest

A shower in the distance drenching the main road out of Haverfordwest

Things calmed down but then it was time for my regular wander at sunset, the premise being you never know quite what’s lurking behind the houses to the west during interesting weather. The answer to that query was this little monster in the distance (probably over Haverfordwest)….

A storm (through a hedge) in the distance moving towards Haverfordwest

A storm (through a hedge) in the distance moving towards Haverfordwest

I moved further down the road (well, the farm track) to get a better view without the undergrowth and pole. To be honest, I had been caught out by this as I wasn’t in my usual spot. So, please excuse the buildings and jazz….

A slightly wider angle of the storm...looks a little like a dragon maybe? That might just be me

A slightly wider angle of the storm…looks a little like a dragon maybe? That might just be me

A little further on. To be honest, this cell was quite a slow developer. The light was fading, well, it was being blocked by this massive amount of cloud so I was unable to take many more images but in the last couple you can see rain in the lower right so someone was getting a good soaking and it wasn’t me for once!

A little clearer bu the light was fading quite rapidly due to the cloud blocking the sun at this stage. Nice light shining on the lower "deck" though

A little clearer but the light was fading quite rapidly due to the cloud blocking the sun at this stage. Nice light shining on the lower “deck” though

Later on though, the sun was revealed for a short time and the remnant of showers and such were still around so I did manage to get a nice rainbow with some virga facing east (away from the storm that had now broken up and moved away)….

A rainbow with some nice pinky shadowy virga to finish the day

A rainbow with some nice pinky shadowy virga to finish the day

Well there you have it, a few hours of May weather in half-a-dozen pictures, I hope you enjoyed it. Now all we need is a few tornadoes and supercells and I’d be happy! For the next few months I suspect it will be quite quiet but remember, I have plenty to pass on from the Summer to you in the meantime.

Oh yes, for those who were interested, it looks as though my pictures weren’t good enough to make the grade for the WeatherNet competition this year. Bah. Well, I can’t invent the weather, so if the pictures (all 25 or so) weren’t good enough, then blame Mother Nature.

Thanks for dropping in again, catch you soon.

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