Posts Tagged clouds

Eifel National Forest roadtrip – Part 4

Hello All,

How are we all? Well, I hope.

A few things of interest of late, it is now Spring (astronomically speaking, but not really reflected in the weather, unfortunately) and today is World Meteorological Day which may interest some of you with a love for clouds and an interest in the weather, such as myself. For those of you who may not be able to access the link  to the Cloud Appreciation Society for any reason, the text introducing this is “World Meteorological Day on Thursday 23 March is themed, this year, on ‘Understanding Clouds’. It marks the publication of the latest edition of the World Meteorological Organisation’s definitive reference work on cloud classification: the International Cloud Atlas. This official resource for cloudspotters includes, for the first time, the ‘Asperitas’ cloud. It is a new classification of cloud, with a chaotic, turbulent appearance, that was proposed by the Cloud Appreciation Society back in 2008, based on photographs sent to us from members all around the world. It is a classic example of citizen science, in which observations by the general public, enabled by the technology of smartphones and the Internet, have influenced the development this most official of classification systems“. Even if you have a passing interest in sunsets or the like, the pictures are pretty awesome. Have a look.

Lastly, a more pertinent matter regards blogging and stuff. I am on Instagram! Yes, I have broadened my electronic horizon. If you are a ‘grammer, look me up @lukegeoffreyjohnson and I will give you a “follow”…or something, whatever this is referred to.

Anyhow, continuing to the blog, we are now on part 4 where things get slightly less history and more petrol-ly. I’m not sure that’s a word, but bear with me here. Essentially, this part of the journey covers some hiking up a hill to another castle and the views, but this view includes a racetrack, the main reason I travelled to the area in the first place. Anyway, stick with me here. The day was loosely based around me undertaking a trip to the Nurburgring racing circuit. However, on finding the village of Nurburg, I didn’t realise you could hike up to a castle…..

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From here there was a commanding view. The castle stands within the famous North Loop, or Nordschleife, of the circuit on a volcanic basalt cone. The castle has had quite a chequered past and has not been well treated but was of significance to pretty much every group who lived here since the site was first mentioned in the records in 1166 as Noureberg or Mons Nore. Local historians say it is probable that it was already used as a signal station in Roman times to protect the important Roman road that ran through the Eifel.

In 1290, ownership of the castle was transferred to the local government, because there were no more descendants of the lords of Nürburg. As early as the 16th century the castle fell into a very poor condition, a situation which the officials complained about. As a result, restoration work was carried out several times. In 1633, during the Thirty Years War, the castle was captured by the Swedes, who plundered and damaged it. In 1674, imperial troops re-occupied the castle. In 1689, French soldiers finally destroyed the place. Some surviving parts were also used  as a prison, but was no longer fit for that purpose after 1752. The castle was abandoned and used as a stone quarry. In 1818, local royalty had the castle restored because, with its height of 678 m above sea level, it would be able to act as a trigonometric point for creating maps. In 1949, ownership of the ruins was transferred to the German State Department for Conservation, who had work carried out several times in order to expose elements of the building that had been filled in, as well as to carry out safety and restoration work, which was still ongoing when I was there. What a view though…..

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Oh, and talking of views, what’s this? A racetrack? Actually, this is the view from just outside over the small village or Nurburg (which expands massively during racing season) towards the track. Those of you with an eagle eye, might be able to spot a small red car off to the left on the parking area. Yeah, I walked quite a way, not realising I could park at the bottom of the cone…

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However, the view from the top wasn’t just of the track, the beauty of the National Forest was obvious all around, as well as the fantastic field of vision. No wonder this place was fought over.

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Right, I will be talking cars now I’m afraid or more of the track and the surrounds, at least. There are quite a few garages owned by large organisations around the village that I noticed as I wandered around, including Bugatti, Audi, BMW M who all base a team here on occasion to test vehicles, which was the original purpose of the track. Nowadays, this is referred to as Industriefahrten. However, there are many new ventures for this area with the popularity of the area spreading, there are fairs, music festivals and all sorts of family activities hosted by the track but, the hardcore undercurrent is cars. On occasion, you see the odd private garage where people keep cars in the village just to go out and have a blast…..

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There is also a large visitors centre offering tours of the “ring°werk” museum and Grand Prix track behind the scenes, which was about all I could do as this was the German “off-season” and it seems that no-one visits Germany then. In a way it was nice, as there were plenty of parking spots, but not as you couldn’t experience a certain buzz that you get from places like this. There were many interesting exhibits and it was quite a place, but quiet wasn’t the word….

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I quite like a quiet spot, as I am quite happy with my own company, but as I left the museum after buying themed boxer shorts and the like from the fan-shop (no, I’m not joking and they are the most comfy things ever) I couldn’t help but be attracted by an advertising hoarding for drives on the track with this gorgeous Audi RS4 Super-Estate sat there doing nothing. Now, this won me over and got me thinking. Whilst, I couldn’t afford this kind of thing at 649 Euros, there must be a cheaper option…and should I use my own car. Hmmmm….

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On the way back, to aid my pondering, a lovely sunset over the forest. It seemed strange to have the two things in one place…a forest and a racetrack. They almost seem at odds with the current thinking but it is working and has worked for many years, nearly 100 years in fact. However, mine is not to reason why, just to enjoy the view once more as I left the circuit behind for the day..

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Hopefully the non-car people have not dropped off. I will try to minimise my car based musings in future posts but I can’t guarantee it! Thanks for dropping in and reading my blog as ever, it is much appreciated. Spread the word, Instagram me, ask for copies of pictures if you like them. I shall happily provide them.

Until next time though, take it easy and enjoy Spring!

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A few photographic effects for your perusal..and Storm Angus

Well, hello from Storm Angus ravaged Wales!

Kind of storm ravaged. Okay…not at all, just the tail end. We didn’t get this all half as bad as the south of England, if you wish to, you can read about the main bits in the Daily Telegraph.

Cue the normal film (courtesy of YouTube on this occasion) on the evening news of people who should know an awful lot better canoeing in the street, standing perilously close to waves crashing onto beaches, generally being a teeny bit dull or driving into water that is far too deep.

Honestly, if I knew that Newhaven and Brighton and similar areas were going to get this much coverage in the years after I moved to Wales, I wouldn’t have bothered coming! Only kidding. Still, at least I stayed relatively dry. The wind was perishing cold though, that was what bothered me the most as I don’t have an awful lot of meat on me. This is due to get less after Christmas too as I will be embarking on a proper 12 week training regime to do a further sportive bike ride of 100 km (60 miles) in aid of charity. I was looking at the handy downloadable training timetable and I am struggling to think of routes that fulfil the length of time or distance needed and also go in a loop to assist me in not transporting the bike around the county in a car that is too small for it. I’m sure it’ll be fine.

However, let us not be bothered by my good deeds. You read this for my wit and pictures don’t you? I like to think so, but I could be having a one-way conversation with the vast internet. So let us begin.

Iridescence. Difficult to spell, even more difficult to spot. More difficult to photograph than both of those things. I think I have posted images on here with some “mother of pearl” effects in some winter clouds but these are not to be confused with the proper nacreous or polar stratospheric clouds.

In this instance, you have to look very carefully at the tips of the dead clematis flowerhead I took a picture of a while back…

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I never noticed the fact there was some iridescence in this image when I took it to be honest but looking at Mr Wikipedia…thanks be to Wikipedia…it says that the effect is generally created by microstructures that interfere with light, which figures as these flowers are very intricate and the flash fired in this image.

On to a more familiar subject, the sky, but a more unusual effect in the clouds than usual. You may remember a while back that I pointed out some oh-so-catchy Kelvin-Helmholtz instability in clouds at sunset that caused what look like cresting waves? In a nutshell, it’s the interaction of two fluids of varying density such as the wind creating a wave on water (yes, air can indeed be construed as a fluid in science). It seems that the effect can go full circle (pun intended) and create what essentially looks like a corkscrew.

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Pretty cool, huh? I have only seen this the once and I can only find a few images on the internet that are similar, so you never know, I may have stumbled on a new cloud type! I will name it “the screw-mulus”. Or I could be over-thinking things….yes, the latter.

Now, moving away from science but to return to it in a little while, some sunset pictures I took just because and in the order of this post heading towards the end of the day in subject matter. Not that many sunset images at all this year, seems we have way too much low cloud now, so there will be fewer and fewer of these images of feathery loveliness…

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This next one is an unusual one as there are quite a few “straight” lines in the cloud. I say straight with a little bit of a nudge as they aren’t ruler straight, but in nature, you very rarely find anything too straight, so when you see it, it’s usually due to interaction with something unexpected…in this instance, I suspect the contrail on the right at a similar angle has something to do with it.

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Back to science! Rays. In particular, crepuscular rays. I have posted many images on here of these rays but now I present to you a rarer image of….anti-crepuscular rays. It is pretty much the same thing but you see these opposite the sun, not around it, behind a cloud or such like. The rays are caused by the interaction of the light with an object out of your line of sight due to the curvature of the Earth, so as the sun dipped just below the horizon here, a little cloud got in the way, casting this shadow…

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Apologies for the dark image, I had to fiddle the contrast to enhance the rays somewhat. However, talking of dark brings me nicely to my last image for this post, a nightscape. I don’t often do these, as it’s not an area I have a great deal of skill in, but I try. I took this of the refinery and fuel storage areas around Pembroke (on the left) and Milford Haven (on the right) from Pembroke Dock.

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I even managed to catch a little starlight in the image which was not my intention, but it adds a little depth to the inky black bits. I might try this further in the future, but I find them a little boring being so dark and having a not so well suited camera for this kind of stuff. We shall see.

Well, there you have it for another post. Before I go, just a couple of things…I need one more follower to reach 50 so if you have a friend or relative who can stand my infrequent babble, tell them to pop to my site on a PC and click the “Follow Me” link at the bottom right. Thanks!

Also, I have changed a few bits on the site such as the background banner and post text. Hard to read, too small, too large? Constructive criticism is very much welcomed!

Cheers in advance and see you soon.

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A little lesson in monochrome

Hello one and all!

..or at least my regular subscribers. Thanks for dropping in. I suspect that anyone nearby in Wales will be having a hard time getting online as the weather is “unseasonably windy” of late, in the words of Carol Kirkwood on the BBC Weather. This affects broadband. Everything affects broadband in Wales….sun, rain, temperature, wind, cars passing by, butterflies coughing. You get the idea.

I have just returned from a walk along the lane to exercise my knackered knee (as per the order of the doctor) and it was hard to stay in a straight line. I felt sorry for a few cats I saw struggling to stay upright! However, I am glad that I rode my bike last night instead of this evening as a headwind on a push bike is no fun. It was damp and murky but rather that than wind. I was upset to see some lovely flowers I was looking to take pictures of have been all but obliterated by the breeze 😦

There have been a few big things on of late, hence the pause. Fear note, I am still here, I have both arms, both legs and a (portion of my) brain. At least I think so.

Anyway, I return with a fe images I thought I would pop on in homage to a photographer I very much love the work of, Ansel Adams. I have a book of his images that will adorn a coffee table that I own…as soon as I own one….and as soon as I own a place to put the coffee table in. I digress. Essentially, he almost made black and white photography what it is today and it’s due to him I think, that it still looks good and is still so widely accepted and many modern cameras have an option to change any image to black and white. He helped develop a system to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of a final print. The resulting clarity and depth characterised his photographs. Adams also used primarily used large format camera images (like we would opt for a bigger sensor in a DSLR) because their high-resolution helped ensure sharpness in images. One of my favourites can be found here. Google him…I will put money on your recognising his pictures from a calendar or poster.

But now, on to my pictures, which are by no means as good and should not be compared! The trick is to get a subject that has a clear demarcation of light and dark on it on a bright sunny day ideally. Now, I live in Wales. The first one might be hard but the second one is by far the hardest! However, I took a trip to the local estuary to try my luck….

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Not bad. Some reflection too. It is worth examining a little more to keep on until you find a subject that suits. If this was my job, I’d be spending weeks doing this kind of stuff. However, it is not, so I just move further down the estuary…

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Again with the reflection. Alas, I missed the rib in the top right when composing the image, so it kind of spoils the antique effect I was going for. But, hey, I’m not selling it, so I’m none too fussed. I quite like it actually…this mystery hulk.

I’m sure those who know me wonder where the cloud pictures are. Yes, I tried the monochrome things with them too. This is even harder as you need a lot of contrast in the sky, which is not always the case. However, I did attempt it with a squall and some cumulus to get this….

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So, what does one of my trademark sunsets look like in just black and white? Well, black and white of course! Less, Ansel Adams, more of a silhouette image I think; interesting aside here, the term comes from the name of Etienne de Silhouette, a French finance minister who forced austerity on the French people. Because of de Silhouette’s austere economies, his name became linked with anything done or made cheaply. Prior to photography, silhouette profiles cut from black card were the cheapest way of recording a person’s appearance…there you have it. Anyway, this image is super cheap, in fact it’s free!

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However, fear not. I shan’t leave this post with no colour. Here’s a quick panorama towards the Preseli Hills at sunset with a nice cirrus cloud catching the last light of the day…

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Hope you enjoyed. By they way, I’ve entered the Weathernet competition for the 5th year running this year. I don’t hold out much hope to be honest but I may be surprised. A 4 year prize run is pretty good going I reckon, so I shouldn’t complain if I don’t win again!

Well, until next time, take care. Thanks for dropping in again

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Spring has….sprung?

Hello All,

By the fact that I was voluntarily cleaning in the house and my room the other day, I can come to no other conclusion than the fact that Spring is here. The days are warmer(ish) and people are already complaining of hay fever, so there must be something in it. Here, in West Wales, things started to sprout then got beaten back a little by random frost and “blast of icy air” as the forecasters put it. Brass monkeys, more like. However, today, I had to take off a layer to drive without feeling uncomfortable.

Cycling still goes well and I was even joined by a few friends and colleagues from work who also hope to do the 50 mile tour, as do I. Now, I hate to blow my own trumpet but (toot toot) I was struggling to go as slow as they were! Maybe they were all hung over but the slowest had a full carbon bike…something wrong there. If it was my size, I’d do a swap. Maybe I was trying harder as other people were about? Perhaps it was the energy drink I was consuming that tasted like gritty, stale Fruit Shoot (other juice drinks are available)? Only the day will tell. If anyone wants to come and chant or something…feel free. Should be fun.

Anyway, seeing I am at a loose end for my training (I try not to do 2 days in succession, so I shall be out tomorrow) I thought I’d pop on a few springy Spring pictures to cheer us all up after Mr Bee made us all smile recently. Living in Wales, there is just no way that I can get away without showing the national flower, seeing it is a Spring bloomer…

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Now, the eagle eyed will notice that these shots are slightly older than Spring but there is a mix of a couple of old pictures of some gorgeous flowers I took late Spring last year as well. This is of the weed called dandelion, a very good-looking weed at that, something that is truly a harbinger of warmer weather. Now, did you know that the name comes from the French “dent de lion” or “lions tooth” which refers to the shape in the leaves, nothing to do with the flower or anything? In some countries, it’s referred to in terms which are not glowing (insert rude names associated with weeing here) due to the fact that the roots can be used as a medicine and are very diuretic. Amazingly, I also found an article that says that these “weeds” actually produce rubber when cut, but the quality varies massively. Even so, apparently Continental Tyres are working on a tyre using blends of rubber from normal sources and….dandelions. No joke, read about it here.

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I have memories of breezy warm days where all the little parachutes (seeds) filled the air, as there were just at the right stage and floated away on a puff of wind. Scourge of many gardeners, I’m sure. However, now that you know what you do, respect the dandelion, they could be part of your car wheel soon!

To less interesting but no less impressive plants in the garden now, beginning to bud and sprout into fantastic colours now the sun is a little stronger..

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This picture gave me a bit of a headache in post-processing. I usually do nothing to the images I take bar reduce the size and add my name to them. I might crop them a little from time to time too. But this one, this one I had to reduce the red on it as it was so red. Maybe the sensor on my camera wasn’t a fan but I thought this was a nice detailed shot, could have done with Mr Bee posing in the foreground though….

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Now, another picture from the archives but a lovely stretch of river near Wolfscastle, on the way to Fishguard. I have heard many things about the wildlife in this area when I have been here such as stories of kingfishers and growling otters. I believe the lady regards the kingfishers as they are, happily, becoming more and more common and I have seen a few in the local area (Pembrokeshire) myself but the fisherman with the story of the otter that got out of the water and growled at him (presumably for daring to fish in the river), I’m not so sure. Next, he’ll be expecting me to believe they cross the rail line nearby to go to the local tea room to vary their diet!

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Last but not least, a sunset shot but with a difference. A lovely smooth coloured vista of clouds over the Preseli hills (you can just see them in the mist at the very foot of the image). Evenings like this are very nice, quite still but colourful. Some might say that this is boring but I implore you to look a bit closer, see if you can count how many shades are in the clouds. So, it’s no storm front but I’d argue that a shot like this is anything but boring.

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So, there we have it for another post…come Saturday, I shall be zipping around North Pembs on my bike so next time you hear from me I shall be complaining about something aching, but I will be better for the experience. Maybe.

Cheers for dropping in, catch you soon for more sunny shots and plant facts to bore your friends with!!

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Looking a bit closer at my regular haunts…

Hello Readers,

Not entirely sure where you have all gone, as my dashboard on here says that I haven’t been all that popular of late..strange, as I had some people say that they had visited, unless it was all lies?! At this rate, if I had my funeral soon, I’d be the only attendee!! Please continue to drop in, if only to poke fun at my limited portfolio, however, I enjoy taking the pictures, so I guess that’s the main thing. However, feel free to challenge me, I dare you 🙂

In this “episode”, I visit a number of my usual haunts but find, if I look a little closer, I see a few interesting things, which I hope you will also find interesting in turn. Up at the top of the Aberfforest waterfall, it did me good to lengthen the shutter speed taking this image, as I found a slow little whirlpool off to one side that made a nice effect on the finished image….

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Yes, I was standing in the middle of the river….

Now, this following image doesn’t exactly give the appearance of looking closely, but I thought I’d include it for the fact that it was a nicely framed Spring picture; you will note the wild garlic on the right and up beside the waterfall (yes, you can eat it…but I’d let you go first, however it smells lovely even just stood around it) and catkins on the trees above the water….

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Spring at Aberfforest, the sound of tumbling water and the smell of….garlic

It was when I was buzzed by a little brown bird on getting closer to the falls that I saw it. A nest. Well, a hole of sorts built out of mud tucked in the rocks right next to the rushing water. Brave little thing…it must be pretty deaf as well!

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You can see here how close the Dipper lives to water that would drown it. Very brave

On returning home, I found that this brave little birdy was a Dipper of the european variety, of course. First time I have seen one and it must be so proud of the spot it has, as it’s a doozy. I’ve always considered the water here a bit dirty, but I think that this is proof that this is not the case as birds like this surely wouldn’t be able to feed. Amazing little things too; mostly, they perch on rocks and feed at the edge of the water, but they often also grip the rocks firmly and “walk” down them until submerged. They then search underwater for yummy dipper food; they can also “swim” with their wings like little penguins! Impressive. Oh, just to clarify, I wasn’t able to get a picture of it…waaaaay too fast. I did see the nest is still there this year though, so there’s time.

Along the way on the mossy stumps and debris I found some interesting fungus as well. The waterfall creates a microcosm of sorts, because there is moss, wild garlic and stuff here like you wouldn’t believe and you don’t see elsewhere…

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Feel free to name the fungus….

Closer to home, I was outside checking out the sunset in the evening when I saw some bird muck on the door, which isn’t unusual being near the coast and with seagulls passing overhead regularly…so, I go to wipe it off when I realised with some controlled horror that there is a baby spider disco happening on the door frame!

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Eeeek! Spiders massing against us. Luckily, I scattered this group in time….you’re welcome

Now, I don’t mind spiders, as long as they aren’t big enough to wink at me or anything, but the sight of these little things running off in all directions gave me the heeby jeebies!

My nerves under control, I concentrated on the sunset and have a couple to share with you on the end of this post which I thought were pretty good. The first I included because of my love of contrails and cirrus clouds. Difficult to tell but I think that this is a few contrails (common over us, as we get trans-atlanic planes over us daily) pulled apart by high winds way up above. Whatever, it’s pretty sweet…

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Contrail sunset. I loves it

Lastly, I do like a mixed cloudscape but a mixed cloudscape at sunset when it’s all at the stage it turns red, even better. The clouds lower down look just like mist arriving from the hills, maybe it was, but I can’t remember the weather on this evening. Enjoy.

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My favourite spot for dusks in Summer…because of pictures like this

Well, there we have it for another post. Sorry for the delay, due to unforeseen circumstances, but I hope you all still take the time to visit again soon, look through the archive, let people who love sunsets and nature know of my work even.

Until next time, all the best.

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Like buses…two posts at once!

Hello again

Well, no excuses from me. I thought that I’d have the opportunity to do a blog come the weekend but seems that I have become rather busy, so here I am again, with a blog which contains a few different bits and bobs in that I thought you may like. I have loads of pictures as I couldn’t choose which to post, so you could call it a bumper crop…excuse the pun.

Against my better nature, I have had to do a teeny bit on manipulation (mainly smoothing oput digital noise) on a few images. Honesty is the best policy but the results were rather good, so I’m hoping that you forgive me for it and congratulate my honesty. Or something. As I type this, about to add the images, I have had a very apt mp3 come on “Shakedown – At Night”…kind of fitting for the first batch of photos that were taken….at night.

Although I can’t remember the exact reason, it appears to be one of those times I just decided to take drive and it ended in Goodwick, next stop Rosslare, Ireland…well, Strumble Head first in a straight line, but that’s splitting hairs. I had the tripod, so thought I’d fiddle with some settings and see what happened….

A full moon and moondog over North Pembrokeshire

A full moon and moondog over North Pembrokeshire

As you can see, a full moon and small town (Old Fishguard) make for some good reflections and, I think it might be, a moondog on the thin cloud just below the moon. Same principle as a sun dog but at night. Nice capture. Further around the coast now, towards north Pembrokeshire and the old Fishguard Harbour…

No need for a flash when there is a full moon to provide all the light you need

No need for a flash when there is a full moon to provide all the light you need

The cloud was coming and going as you can see in the pictures as we had been having some heft showers that days it looks like but the trip was well rewarded in the end by a lunar halo. Check out this bad boy (as with all images, please click on them to see the full resolution versions, these are but large thumbnails)…

A lunar 22 degree halo...portent of bad weather?

A lunar 22 degree halo…portent of bad weather?

The technical term is actually a 22 degree halo but that is a bit of a mouthful. Incoming science!! Those who have stuck with me might have seen the solar (sun) version of this many posts back but both are formed the same way, light is refracted in millions of randomly oriented hexagonal ice crystals hanging way up high. In days of old, moon rings were are said to warn of approaching storms or bad weather. The reason was that, over time, people realised that they appear when the sky is covered by thin cirrus family clouds (like mares tales) that often come a few days before a large weather front. However, the same clouds can also occur entirely randomly, making a halo unreliable as a sign of bad weather.

On to clouds that are just pretty now, for no other reason that I liked the colour, shape and effect the still water in puddles had on the image. This was taken when it was VERY cold, so rather than water, these clouds are more likely ice….

Icy water in the air...icy water on the ground

Icy water in the air…icy water on the ground

Next, a cloud ray shadow, or rather as some in the weather spotting fraternity would call it, a “crown ray”. Reason being, as you can see below, the sun is directly behind a big thick cloud giving a shadow from behind that creates a crown, instead of the light coming through and creating the familiar crepuscular ray (have I lost any of you yet?!). Nice.

A very pretty golden "crown ray"

A very pretty golden “crown ray”

Now, further on in the year, one of those storm clouds that has a mix of clouds in it that creates weird colours, shadows and shapes. I love these. I have stuff like this on my PC as wallpapers as pictures of these kind of clouds make them look different from different angles every way you look at it if you were there in person. I don’t think that much came of this particular bumpy bit but it is a nice example…no prizes for storm chasing on this occasion though…

OK, so it's no masterpiece...but look carefully at the blues, greens and greys, not to mention the rays lighting the top

OK, so it’s no masterpiece…but look carefully at the blues, greens and greys, not to mention the rays lighting the top

Further on, more cold weather and the clouds created above the chimneys in Pembroke and Milford Haven where the refineries are located. No massive science here. As I am sure you are all aware, warm air rising into cold is going cause condensation, that’s what warm air does…same thing applies to aircraft engines, hence condensation trails. If it is nice and clear as well as still, you get a big lump of warm cloud sat there and, on these occasions, the said lump was quite photogenic. The first is taken looking towards Neyland at sunset one day….

A winter sunset over Neyland

A winter sunset over Neyland

The same few a little while later but if you look closely, you can see the separate streaks of condensing warm air as they create the cloud. On this occasion, all four chimneys at the new gas power station were puffing away…

So, it's pollution of sorts, but it is very pretty

So, it’s pollution of sorts, but it is very pretty

And last, but certainly not least is this purpley orange beast I spotted. It looks so alien in the blue sky with the thinner cloud around it, it’s easy to see how that, at a glance, people mistake these for UFOs. However, you’d have to be pretty silly to not realise this is a cloud.

Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a UFO? No, it's a cloud!

Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a UFO? No, it’s a cloud!

Anyway, there we have it. I hope you enjoyed the night shots that I took and that you might take the time to pop a comment on if you did. Maybe you hated them and want me to skip on to my holiday in Germany or something. Go ahead, it’s free, vent your spleen, I shan’t take offence.

Until next time, thanks for dropping by.

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Has it been a month or more?!

Good Lord.

I didn’t realise that I had left the blog alone for so long, I hope none of you set you calendars or anything by me 🙂 Anyway, hello there, welcome to British Summer Time and the longer days (the main reason I haven’t posted any pictures on here to be honest). I have now passed the 400 mile mark on my new super dooper Boardman hybrid bicycle and with 1000 on my last before I sold it, the total is racking up quite nicely. I recently got it serviced and fettled with at a local business, Enterprise Cycles in Neyland. Should anyone be local and looking for a good bike shop, your quest is at an end. Best place around. Just Google it, I’d pop a link in but the site is under construction….

On to the pictures for this entry anyhow. Last month I promised some pretty awesome cirrus clouds that I was going to post that I saw over my house recently, well, here you are. What’s that? Groaning because of more clouds? How very dare you! Clouds are important and, as you can see below, they sometimes look pretty awesome….

The threads of this cirrus caught the light juuuuust riiiiiight.....

The threads of this cirrus caught the light juuuuust riiiiiight…..

One estimate of the volume of water in the atmosphere at any one time is about 3,100 cubic miles/14.2 billion tons of water…that’s quite a lot. Just think if all that was on the ground and not in the sky? I think a fair few of us would paddling as it’s enough to deposit 30 mm of water everywhere on the planet at once and some places are already pretty wet!

As well as holding water, they provide shelter, little places for bacteria or insects to shelter and travel as well as this important role in the water cycle. Obviously, the ones pictured here are slightly less heavy than your normal storm cloud or anything, but I feel they are no less spectacular.

Same view but with a guest appearance from nearby vegetation

Same view but with a guest appearance from nearby vegetation

One clue that those in the know can take from these cirrus clouds or “mares tails” is that there is a change in the weather coming. Usually it means it’s going to get wet. I took these images at sunset, so it was due overnight I thought. I particularly liked this last picture as there was an imprint of a shadow from a passing contrail that made a nice shadow as the sun set….

Now that the sun was disappearing, a passing contrail became apparent, creating a nice diagonal line across my view

Now that the sun was disappearing, a passing contrail became apparent, creating a nice diagonal line across my view

I got my timing well out for the arrival of the bad weather but, arrive it did. See, these old wives tales do work. Along trundled a nice little storm cloud with an anvil like lip containing a few mammatus clouds on the leading edge…not the best mammatus I have seen or posted here but still, they were there…

This is the weather the next morning, I didn't edit things to fit, honestly!

This is the weather the next morning, I didn’t edit things to fit, honestly!

Seeing it had got wet, I decided I would go for a quick walk down toward Port Lion and follow the stream there to get some nice moving water shots, seeing I hadn’t tried that for a while. Surprisingly little water in the stream this time, which is why the blurring looks a little blocky as there were quite a few bubbles to contend with, but the colours from dead leaves and the ferns offset things nicely I thought…although more liberal use of a polariser would have been better here.

A smooth stream on the way down to Port Lion and the Cleddau

A smooth stream on the way down to Port Lion and the Cleddau

As I went down the lane, I noticed that the rain earlier had knocked loads of seeds off the larch tree lining the sides, made an interesting colour effect so I had to take a quick snap away from the water..

Port Lion Woods minus a fair amount of Larch seeds.....

Port Lion Woods minus a fair amount of Larch seeds…..

But, back to the water, the air was very still so I was able to take a long exposure of this little tumble with a fern around it which didn’t move an inch whilst I was doing it, good fern. Usually I cheat a little and move things aside to suit what I want. Oooh, did I say that out loud?!

I like the way the bubbles made a pattern in this image, can't get enough of stuff like this

I like the way the bubbles made a pattern in this image, can’t get enough of stuff like this

Well, short and sweet this time however, there are more stormy skies and moving water pictures to come, plus Mischief the cat will be making a cameo appearance at some point I see as he had posed for the odd snap, or rather, he was asleep in a cute position…

As ever, appreciate you dropping in. Remember, feel free to suggest anything you want pictures of on here, don’t be afraid to ask! Until next time, enjoy the longer days!

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Some random garden and weather pictures for the weekend

Hello All,

I return. Been a bit busy of late and with the weather getting better by the day, they has been quite a lot of riding of my new bike to be done. Also, when I had it serviced recently I opted to fit gel inner-tubes to protect against punctures, so I am now more confident riding the paths around here that seem to be strewn with thorns for some reason.

Also, my work colleagues have decided that being single is a source of lunch hour amusement for them and have put me on a site called Plenty of Fish…probably to take the mickey even further, but it’s quite time-consuming! I was also persuaded to attend a singles night locally the other day; little did I know that I would be the only person there. No, not the only man, the only person. I even got let down by people who promised to come with me! The barmaid was very apologetic, but it was super embarrassing…

Anyway, what a difference an hour makes in South West Wales weather? When I got up the wind was blowing and the rain was horizontal but now, I’m squinting against the sun as I type! Mind you, there has been a lot more of interest in “space weather” of late as you may have seen on the news lately? If not, there was a “supermoon” (which saw some amazingly low tides around the beaches near here), the partial eclipse and a sighting of the Northern Lights over Pembrokeshire. Should you want to see the local cover, please refer to the local paper…

Read about the eclipse over Pembrokeshire here

See some pretty awesome (although not as you see them in Norway, unfortunately) Aurora pictures here

Anyway, I shall start popping my own pictures on now! As I said, this is a bit of a random collection of mainly weather, as it appears that my travels were somewhat curtailed and these were more local wanderings. Firstly, a spider that caught my eye in the garden, wrapping up his next big meal it appears..

Looks like this guy is wearing his desert camouflage...

Looks like this guy is wearing his desert camouflage…

That is a pretty funky spider tattoo down his back, isn’t it?! I fully admit that I am no fan of spiders, but will concede that they are amazing little creatures. I am quite thankful that I live in a country that just has small ones though, not like the tropics. Eeek!

Moving on to the skies, as I quite often do, a nice dusk that I took a few pictures of. I have included these as I noticed on review of the images that there was a little aberration in the latter picture…not sure whether I noticed this at the time though…

Notice the ripple effect in the cirrus towards the top of the picture; could this be Kelvin-Helmholtz forming?

Notice the ripple effect in the cirrus towards the top of the picture; could this be Kelvin-Helmholtz forming?

In the latter image below, just above and to the left of the trees, you will notice a line of Kelvin Helmholtz instability. Now, I don’t know whether this is some optical illusion or something as the earlier pictures shows some “waves” in the high cloud. I can’t say for sure, but I’d like to think I caught the creation of the waves over time 🙂

A small line of Kelvin-Helmholtz (I think) in the orange dusk

A small line of Kelvin-Helmholtz (I think) in the orange dusk

Next, a common occurrence over Pembrokeshire, some mild asperatus. This is the only place I have ever seen the regular appearance of this cloud, that is similar in age to me. In that, I mean that it wasn’t really officially recognised as a type of cloud until 30 or so years ago; I’m sure it has been around for donkeys years. In the textbooks and such, this is a precursor to rain or is on the rear edge of a front that was just carrying rain (this I can testify to). So, if you see clouds like this, get a coat….

Some mild asperatus in advance of rain overnight (which did happen, I'm not making it up)

Some mild asperatus in advance of rain overnight (which did happen, I’m not making it up)

As the sky got a bit dimmer, there was a nice watery orange sunset so I snapped a quick image of that with a little of the asperatus in…

A watery, orangey, asperatussy sunset. All technical terms, you understand

A watery, orangey, asperatussy sunset. All technical terms, you understand

A few days later, things had turned a bit squally again. This again seems to be a theme here, there are times where we have weeks of squally heavy showers and because of the position of the house and the hills in the distance, we get a pretty good grandstand view. In the first instance there was this little cell struggling to make itself into an anvil shape over the estuary to our north, bless it…

Must...create...anvil...shape. Nicely lit by the sun though

Must…create…anvil…shape. Nicely lit by the sun though

Alas, wind blew this little cell apart and it died away to be replaced by three of four layers of “scud” which were whipping along in the wind at quite amazing speeds. I took a picture of these as they passed, as the colours and contrasts of the different levels were pretty cool, I thought…

The type of clouds you avoid if you are in a glider, I suspect

The type of clouds you avoid if you are in a glider, I suspect

For every cell that falls apart there are a few that succeed in dropping their rain. This one and the following picture are from a day where things were a little less “lumpy” so they are much more streamlined and pleasing to the eye, even though in looking at them you would have got wet! From this angle, you can see what I mean in me getting a good view as the weather moves from left to right (from the Irish Sea inland)…

A windswept squall over the Preseli Hills

A windswept squall over the Preseli Hills

And to finish, a rainbow! Everyone loves a rainbow. No particular structure to this one as this was a fleeting one that passed by in the clouds as the rain flew around in the air. Again, this is something which happens quite a lot in the Spring around here, very pretty…

Rainbow! One of the plus points of rain in my opinion

Rainbow! One of the plus points of rain in my opinion

Well, there we have it, I hope that the fact that the sun is (trying to come) out and the flowers are blooming has cheered you up and these picture may have raised a grin too. Don’t forget the clocks go forward this weekend too!

Next week, I see that I was out and about when there was fantastic display of cirrus “mares tails”, basically windblown cirrus clouds very high up in the atmosphere that also seem to show themselves in advance of heavy weather which I also manage to capture, so I shall be posting those images. I have others from my wanders that week too so if you are good, I might post some more moving water…

Well, that’s the lot for this post, cheers for dropping in and taking a peek, see you soon. I will also update you on any decent single life news in the next entry 🙂

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Summer storminess and a Preseli wander (Part 1)

Hello again!

You know that promise I made at the end of the last blog. Hmmm….well, I am kind of sticking to it but stretching things a little as there were some good images of “explosive” cumulus clouds at the end of Summer and there were some nice colourful images one evening that I just had to share! sorry about that…but, stick with it.

I have more of the Preseli Hills to share in Part 2 of this post…I couldn’t cram everything I wanted to into just one post.

Anyway, before we continue, a little shout out to the poor disillusioned soul who parked in Haverfordwest today where I work and decided that, upon receipt of a parking ticket for not paying, they’d put it on my car instead. I can only imagine that this is because their outlook on life is that of an ostrich. If they had an ounce of sense, they would know that not only are the details of the vehicle recorded inside a sealed bag (I don’t drive a black BMW) but also that ignoring stuff like this just makes it worse as in a while, the owner will be found (they record the tax number and such) and pay many times more than the original fine due to costs of bailiffs etc. What is wrong with people?!  Well, wherever you are, Mr/Miss/Ms/Mrs BMW driver with loose moral fibre, spend the money you think you saved by dishonestly trying to palm your ticket off onto me wisely and quickly, it’ll cost you more soon!!

Rant over and on to the pictures….my favourite part. Firstly, a collection of layered clouds I can’t quite find the name for. To me they look like flattened Asperatus but I am sure this is wrong. Shame the sun wasn’t shining on them to pick up the details a little more.

Flattened Asperatus...long Lenticular clouds? Who knows!

Flattened Asperatus…long Lenticular clouds? Who knows!

Onto the most impressive and most quickly formed clouds I have seen of an evening in a summer here. During the day, they were scattered showers all over but as the day came to an end, little puffs of Cumulus started appearing all over so I nipped off on my bicycle to catch the best angle I could. In the first instance, a shot from the house…..

I spy with my little eye a big Cumulus cloud

I spy with my little eye a big Cumulus cloud

After this and in the opposite direction (the previous image was towards the east), there was some very colourful wisps building in height over the refinery. I stuck around in this field for some time as I could see that there would be some nice colours from these….

Quite how many different types of cloud are in here I'm unsure but it was lovely to behold

Quite how many different types of cloud are in here I’m unsure but it was lovely to behold

Back towards the east, another big puffy Cumulus. Lovely. I know, I know, this is nothing compared to the storm chasing you may see across Nebraska and Kansas on the TV but for here, it’s pretty impressive…especially since when I arrived a short while earlier there was nothing there! Dare I say that there is a very nice structure to it? Sounds a bit sad doesn’t it. Sorry.

Nice blue sky, Cirrus, Cumulus and crops just outside Rosemarket

Nice blue sky, Cirrus, Cumulus and crops just outside Rosemarket

Alas, these puffs of bubbliness didn’t last too long and didn’t come to much (at least not that I could see as they were too low to see and rain and such) so I moved on to one of my usual haunts where the last light of the day was making for a nice colourful skyscape…

Okay, so it's mainly condensation from the refinery but I'd give it an Honourable Mention

Okay, so it’s mainly condensation from the refinery but I’d give it an Honourable Mention

Well, that is the cloud based images done. I promised some landscapes from the Preseli Hills and here we are. Some time during Summer this year I must go up and experiment with some astrophotography now I have downloaded some instructions on how to do it. My usual method of trial and error was not wielding any decent results at all. Keep you eyes peeled for that stuff anyway and me celebrating a good session. Until then, there are a few nice open landscapes to enjoy….

A summers day in the Preselis. Imagine a picnic here...go on, it's worth a visit!

A Summer’s day in the Preselis. Imagine a picnic here…go on, it’s worth a visit!

Lovely day when I popped up, blue skies, not much wind and the green grass and grey “bluestone” contrasted very well as you can see. Further on in the set, there will be more structured remains that you may enjoy. All this walking distance from the main Cardigan to Haverfordwest road. Which, incidentally is a blast in my car….Officer 🙂

Blue sky...blue stone. Looking towards Cardigan across the Hills

Blue sky…blue stone. Looking towards Cardigan across the Hills

Last image for this part now which shows one of the greatest shames of the Hills. I think so anyway. At the top of the hill on the right, you can see a yellowy scar where once stood a large copse/forest of pine. These have been harvested and boy, do the trucks and trailers make a mess. Such a shame. I realise that this type of product is a cash crop but this area is a National Park; it seems at odds with the rest of the landscape (which is grazed or boggy).

A wider view of the previous image looking towards Cardigan; ignore the scar top right!

A wider view of the previous image looking towards Cardigan; ignore the scar top right!

Anyway, I think I have levelled my opinion way too much in this post so I shall give you all a rest. Next time, I shall show you some of the more interesting wildlife that I encountered in my short wander. No, it’s not a cloud. Cynical lot.

As ever, I much appreciate you dropping in and encourage comments, criticism or random facts about any of the things I have spoken about; I shall pop the other images up in the next week or so. In the meantime, have a good week whatever you are up to. Ta-ra!

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Storm silhouettes followed by a colourful dusk

Hello everyone,

I have been away for the past weekends so apologies for the late post but I did promise that there was a bit of colour arriving in this one and it will be later on. When I was reviewing this images I was picking I didn’t actually realise I had taken some stormy cloud images in the morning before going to work and then the sunset ones were the same evening, so they all slotted together nicely.

I know what a few of you are thinking…”oh my god, more clouds, does this guy ever do anything else?”. Truth be told I’d love to be a professional cameraman and photographer but seeing the options you appear to have in these areas of work are dangerous and/or don’t pay the bills, it’s a bit of a no brainer that I do this as a hobby. I try to get out to be artistic but time is limited for this and so the local area is my playground….it just happens that there was a lot of weather activity this particular week. I can see more storms in the next batch of pictures but after that I did take a trip into the Preseli Hills so I shall include those too. Thanks for sticking with it!

Anyway, onward to the pictures. A few images to start the day is the best way (I usually don’t eat breakfast as I like my bed too much). This morning had been after blustery night and a blooming huge storm was passing by in front of the sun…..

The kind of cloud any person looks at and say "it's going to rain any second"

The kind of cloud any person looks at and say “it’s going to rain any second”

However, my struggling to get the right settings on the camera didn’t work all that well and I’m afraid the silhouetting that I was picturing in my mind didn’t quite work. I didn’t get wet though as the rain seemed to be falling a few miles away as far as I could see….

The sun is behind there, honest

The sun is behind there, honest

Amazingly, almost 10 minutes of so from the first image, the skies began to clear and left this wonderful mix of high, medium and low cloud shooting around overhead. Lovely….

Minutes later and who would have known there was a storm there even?

Minutes later and who would have known there was a storm there even?

After the tap had been turned on umpteen days during the day when I was at work, even with a little hail if I recall correctly, the evening was a clear as crystal save for a few wisps of cirrus in the far distance (probably over Ireland). My trained eye could see that was going to be a good one but silly me didn’t look properly until late on, so, instead of my usual haunt, I was relegated to standing on top of a pile of grass cuttings in the back garden for this image!

Taking a picture whilst sinking....not ideal

Taking a picture whilst sinking….not ideal

I decided that the soft ground I was on wasn’t the best so I decided to move on by jumping over our back fence down into the field to get under those cursed telephone wires (thanks BT). Seems that was a good choice as the pinks and red got deep, so much so, I was really struggling with the low light as you can see!

Low light seems to be a weakness of mine in this set!

Low light seems to be a weakness of mine in this set!

I confess I had to crop this image a little as the noise really crept in around the edges…sorry. I shall tell myself off later!

The pinks are fading now leaving a lovely dark streak.....

The pinks are fading now leaving a lovely dark streak…..

As the finale, typically enough I had found the perfect setting to get that nice “cosmic paintbrush” effect I always talk about. If I was allowed to put the pictures up all over the walls of the house, this would be a “framer” I reckon, I really like it because it’s so smooth. Anyway, enough of me spouting about sunsets, I will lose your attention if I am not careful.

Not a bad finishing picture I think....where's that frame?

Not a bad finishing picture I think….where’s that frame?

Next time, I promise less clouds and more of other things OK? I did manage to get some nice pictures in the mountains so there should be some good project stuff coming your way…even a dragonfly I remember seeing.

Remember, if you fancy a copy, don’t cheat and download it even though I am happy for you do that; I am happy to send you the original by email in return for you “bigging me up” on your own blog or something. Fair exchange? Or even comment on any improvement you’d like me to make in taking them…all criticims gladly received.

Thanks for dropping in again and thanks to my followers which number near the half century at the moment. Much appreciated. Take care and see you in the near future for more Pembrokeshire pictures.

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