Strange Skies. June 2, 2011Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
Tags: blue flag irises, Landscape photography, ragged robbin, Springfield tornadoes, tilt-shift photography, wildflowers, Windsor
Yesterday after work I ran a couple of errands, and in the process, got totally drenched in a spectacular downpour.
So naturally I thought, “There must be mists rising on the back end of this thing; the sun’s still up, maybe sunset will get involved!” … and I headed the car westward to see what I would see.
As I broke out of the storm’s western front, I saw the anticipated mists:
…but alas, the image wasn’t really compelling, so I drove on.
As the sky cleared, my auto-noodling brought me up toward Windsor, where I thought I might find some early meadow wildflowers. I wanted to try to get some foreground blooms with some cumulus monsters in the background, something which can be done to good effect with a tilt-shift lens.
At a high meadow along route 8A I was pleased to find a view worth setting up for:
…with a nice carpet of Ragged Robin shepherded by a passable set of clouds:
This small version of this photo misses the finer details of the delicate flowers interspersed with buttercups, but hey, that’s the medium I’m working in here.
There were a lot of different types of grasses in bloom, with interesting seed-heads of various colors:
Tussock Sedges and Buttercups beneath a sky which was beginning to act up.
I looked for and found a patch of Blue Flag irises I’ve photographed in the past, and with Elliot’s trick objective lens, got this:
At this point, though, things got a bit strange – I thought the curving structure in the upper sky was some sort of aberration caused by my circular polarizer, but quickly realized that it was an actual feature in the clouds. I stood back and watched in amazement as the ghostly sky began to boil, coalescing into radiating waves of gray and white. It was as though all of the moisture in the air was being amassed and focused to the south, suddenly blushing as the western sun grew low and leaving the adjacent sky brilliantly blue:
The sinuous striations of the cloud’s underbelly spoke of spectacular wind speeds, and my mind raced with images of recent Midwestern disasters. I was wishing for my 16mm wide-angle lens, but it was back at the car, and there just wasn’t time – I got as much of the total sky event as I could with Elliot:
I was gobsmacked by the sight of this unearthly cloud flowing from the sky with Auroral undulations; calibrating the distance and direction of its focus, I thought, “Something bad is happening down Springfield way.”
With the light fading and mayflies gnawing at my every exposed inch, I jogged back to the car with frequent stops to gawk. By the time I got to the road and put my Sweet Sixteen on the box the show was nearly over, and the apparition had resolved into an orange phantasm:
I would have liked to have held that image in my mind all the way home, but the car radio had other ideas: a frantic announcer was describing the wreckage in Springfield, Massachusetts, where at least three tornadoes had destroyed a swath of the city, tossing cars into piles and killing four people.
I had inadvertently photographed a sad bit of Massachusetts history.