One last snow storm.

It’s February 21.

I woke this morning with ice covered snow. Snow is not unusual for this time of the year. It feels strange only because I think I’m done with the winter of 2018/2019. I am ready for spring.

Like last year, I’ve not had to use my snow thrower to move large amounts of snow as in years past. It sits quiet, thankfully, in the barn. I don’t have to work in the weather now so I let the snow do what the snow is gonna do.

Today it’s been warmer than it’s been since I’ve been physically here this winter. The current temperature in the front yard is 55ºF so the snow is quickly melting. Because of the temperature difference between the ground and the air we get the low fog and cloud layers in the morning.

Sunrise after a snow storm.

I missed the 65º “Indian Summer” when I was gone for work a few weeks ago. So the 55º was as warm as I’ve seen it this winter. We normally get a few days like this each year in between the really cold weather we otherwise have.

It’s fun to take the drone up through the fog in the clear above. Things look so different up there where the birds fly.

I don’t know how to get a shot like this without the use of a drone (or helicopter).

The lonely tree; It now has a large broken branch from all the ice and wind.

This winter has been nice. At night when there is no wind Its super quiet around here above a layer of ice. I’m glad we have four seasons here.

I’m glad spring is just around the corner.

More snow; More cold.

Yesterday we had another snow storm roll through this area. The snow didn’t amount to much. We did get more than was predicted which left quite the wintery landscape behind.

The above was video taken from my drone while the following is from my Nikon camera using an intervalometer:

I’m almost never in a position to use my nicer cameras to do time lapse photography like this. It’s not hard but quite time consuming so if you have to baby sit the camera you can’t be working like I have been lately. But stuck in my home and working at my desk allowed me the time to monitor the camera while it took 1000 images through the day.

Ironically, the above uploaded on to YouTube is about half the actual resolution of the images. You tube and other services take out so much of the quality to save storage space and not use so much bandwidth.

The camera was set up for manual images with fixed focus, fixed aperture and fixed f-stop. All of the rest was done with software. I use Adobe Lightroom to do the heavy image edits, crops and the like. And then LRTimelapse (Version 4) to put together the time lapse. LRT is very cool and powerful software.

And the drone also takes some very unique images in raw image format so that the image can be manipulated very easily post production.

The Lonely Tree in undisturbed snow after a storm.

I like the high contrast photography I learned when I was 16/17 years of age. Back then I would look through all the Ansel Adams photographs in awe of how he accomplished such unique high-contrast black and white photography.

He’s gone now but I can’t wait to tell him about drones.  He would carry his camera gear on his back, spend days/weeks in the wilderness to get the perfect image.

I flew my drone from my front porch in between work meetings to get this one. Things have changed. Photography has really changed even in my lifetime.

Stay warm!

Total Lunar Eclipse

Well, it took me 22 days to write my first post in 2019. Happy new year to you!

All this “Blood Moon” talk hyped up this event which is really just the earth passing in front of the sun casting it’s shadow on the moon (lunar eclipse). It does glow an odd color when in totality. That’s about it though. All the drama in the “news papers” made it more than it really was.

I did get a nice photo of the moon in totality.

The “Blood Moon”, January 21, 2019

At my home in Virginia the sky is always very clear if there are no clouds. This night happened to be one of those super clear nights so taking a picture of the moon would normally be a piece of cake. Enter the 40 mile an hour wind, 10º temperature and the location of the moon at 90º to the horizon.

The photo was taken with a 600mm lens which is not the smallest, lightest lens in the world. Attached to the camera and a tripod it’s steady but unwieldy. The wind was so strong that I had to use f-stops much higher than I normally would so the photo was not blurry. Had this been in the summer, for instance, I could have laid on my back and peered into the sky indefinitely. Not this night!

I did three sessions each about 5 minutes long. At the end of each session I could not feel my fingers! This photo came at the end of the last session after I dialed in the light and shutter speeds that I could use with a shaky camera(man). It wasn’t until I saw it on my computer that I knew I didn’t have to go out for a fourth session. Shew!

The camera was pointing straight up in the sky making it very difficult to focus on the moon and set the camera up to take the photo. But I finally managed to get a good one. It would have been fun to spend more time outside but it was just too uncomfortable.

Some astronomers have captured a meteor striking the moon during totality. That would have been cool to witness.  You can find that on the web if you are interested. I don’t think it was fake news. It’s always possible these days.

Lunar eclipse are fun but if you really want to see something cool make plans to see a total solar eclipse! That’s a sight to see for sure. The next one in the USA is on April 8, 2024. I’ll be there!

I hope you have had a nice day today.

First Light; November 19, 2018.

I’m not a morning person. Today I made an exception.

For what ever reason I got up early and looked out the window and saw the foggy-ness before the sun had come up. Others in the house had to get up early as well to go to meetings and such so there was movement that probably woke me. We swapped inside cat with outside cats. I ran out the front door with my drone.

The air was calm and cold with fog so thick you couldn’t see very far. Mongrel and I were gearing up for a walk together like we do some mornings. Normally it’s down the gravel road to keep paws as dry as possible. Today it will be in the tall grass thick with moisture which he didn’t seem to mind. I found this interesting and fun to watch. Normally he does not like his paws to be wet like this. Today he was wet to the middle part of his body. Totally soaked. Remember, it’s like 40º!

I was struck by how cool the sun looked coming through the fog in some of my favorite places at home.

I never leave without at least one camera. This has paid off a number of times. It felt good today  when I reached for it and took this photo.

The promise at first light; My day yet to be written.

The light was super soft and contrasty. This is the “lonely tree”; a name I gave it because it’s all alone in the field near our home. It’s a frequent subject of some of my high-contrast photography.

The photo is not edited and I used no filters. That’s the way it looked this morning. Very moody. I recall thinking, “I can do anything today!” as I walked with Mongrel who was beside himself exploring this “new” landscape wet from head to paw.

Just before our walk I flew the drone up to get this composite photography of the sun rising. Totally different perspective than being on the ground shrouded by the thick fog.

Drone’s eye view of the sunrise above the morning fog.
Looking away from the sun.

Mongrel patiently waited on me to finish taking my photographs. He does this. He seems to know that when the “bird” lands that we will be on our walk soon. When the drone powers down he gets all giddy, arches his back, bends his tail and hops towards the way he wants to go. He knows we’re going for a long walk.

Can we walk now?

So we walk. We love our walks together. He leads.

Walking with a panther

I follow.

First Snow of 2019

Tower 2 – First Snow 2018

This week we experienced the first snow of the 2018/2019 winter season. It’s a little early for this much snow so soon but not unusual either. I have some media to share with you

The first to are some time lapse videos I put together from my cheapo Raspberry Pi cameras in the windows. These computers put three time lapse sequences a day together for me so there is nothing I have to do to make these happen.

I was a little surprised at how heavy the snow was at times. Normally we don’t see this heavy of snow this early in the season. It will snow then go away. 5″ of snow is a little unusual. To have this much show meant that it snowed from morning until evening on this day (November 15).

Weather station in heavy snow.

I didn’t have to look too far to find the deer finding refuge from the wind in the tall brush eating the leaves still on some of the trees there.


This blue spruce tree was bought in 1999 from a nursery in Frederick Maryland to use as a Christmas tree when we lived there. The idea was that we would plant the tree once we moved to our new home. We did do that when we moved in here. First it was planted by the mailbox and then we moved it to this place after we wanted to plant the silver maple trees down the driveway. It has thrived in this location.

Christmas Tree – Blue Spruce

It’s sunny out now and 40º. The snow is melting off of the paved surfaces and things turning back to normal. The snow on the grass/ground is going to hang around for a while.

Have a good weekend!

We’ve past the Solar Equinox.

It’s inevitable that the days will get much shorter now that the sun has past the equator as a highest point in the sky. We’re into fall now and headed to winter. The trees have started to change color once again.

Sunset past the solar equinox

For me the mood can be a bit melancholy in the winter months. We seem to have more cloudy days than sunny and even the sunny days will be uber short in the coming months. I prefer the longer and hotter days of summer. Its 59º outside as I write this on September 23, 2018. It’s as hot as it’s going to be today. And, of course, it’s raining all day today.  Since I can’t really work outside I’ve decided to hang out inside all day.

Looking north towards Harpers Ferry and the Potomac River

We live at 39º north latitude which enjoys a pretty wide swing of all of the seasons. Here’a 10 second video of two sunsets. One is on the longest day of the year around June 21 and the other right at the equinox three months later on September 21.

The taile of Two Sunrises

The sun will continue south until around December 22 when it’ll turn back north and signal the start of winter. That’s when it gets really cold around here.

Since we go on walks every day together we’re going to have to get used to the colder weather coming. The seasons change just slow enough that we figure out how to tolerate the cold before it’s thrust upon us. All of the cats do the same thing when they go out in the cold; they shake their front paws and whence before they jump outside. They would never wear a boot/sock or “clothes” to keep warm preferring instead to just be outside. Well, Mongrel anyway. The girl cats prefer to be inside all the time. Still their coats will become very thick soon as a part of the changing seasons.

Tolerating my shenanigans before going on a walk

Neither of us are totally happy to be stuck inside while it rains. Mongrel meows at me as if I can turn it all off and we can go for a walk together. You see, he doesn’t like his paws wet either. And I can’t turn off the rain. It’s interesting he thinks I can. It’s an elevated view of this clowder leader.

He doesn’t like me at my computer. His reminders to go on walks help me get out of this office and outside when we can. Today just won’t be one of those days where we take our three walks a day. Or tomorrow, Tuesday and likely most of Wednesday. But later in the week looks super. We need 4-5 days of sunshine and no rain to finish some projects around here.

Monsoonal Air Mass.

The hurricane name Florence is a few hundred miles away but her outer bands are pretty far reaching. It’s been very humid and rainy the last few days as the air changes around the hurricane.

Hurricane Florence outer bands of moisture

Instagram won’t let me post this photo with the kind of detail shown here.

It’s hard to describe the rain that has come out of the sky except to call it a monsoon like rain. Thick and condensed and straight down without any wind. Then it clears up and the sky looks like the above.

A man and his home – Wet roof; me in a tie.

The ground is completely saturated and I’m afraid it’s going to be raining for a while more before all that stops. Hopefully the hurricane stays far away but we are ready in any case.

Sunrise July 27, 2018

The sun (barely) poked through multiple layers of clouds this morning before the rain returned.

So far this week, in just the past 3 days, we have logged 6.5 inches of rain. We went from being pretty dry and things looking deep green again. I know all the plants are much happier with this water.

It’s too bad I didn’t’ think to get it on video but we also know that at least some of the animals are happy with the rain. With my girls as a witness we watched a fawn just go absolutely nuts in the water puddles two days ago. I don’t know if it was a boy or girl but it was driving the adults pretty crazy with its hyperactivity. It was the kind of unfettered happiness of seeing something new for the first time and being consumed by it all. It was fun to watch.

USGS Lovettsville Station Data

Above is the USGS station near my home. It’ hasn’t updated fully for today yet. You can see we went from essentially no precipitation lots of rainfall lately.  In particular was the 21st when the rain first started falling. It was “heavy at times”, as the weather man likes to explain.

Personally, I like the rain. And the snow. Since I no longer have to work in this stuff it’s nice to be able to get rain on my face again. If this were snow it would be SIX FEET deep. 1″ of rain is about 1 foot of snow equivalent. That would be interesting.

I hope at some point when we live here we get 6 feet of real snow. I just want to see what that would be like. I’ve seen almost 4 feet of snow a couple of times. But it always stopped there. It would not be easy to dig out but I’d eventually do that. It would make for some interesting photos for sure.

This is my current weather. The temperature is very nice and it’s a bit breezy with spitting rain. This beats 100º for sure! I made the graphs you see below and you might also notice that the “green zone” is between 60º and 80º. This is my favorite temperature range.

Weather telemetry at home

Here are a couple of random photos of what happens when the skies change around here. They are taken with my cell phone so the quality is not like my still cameras but you’ll get the idea.

Pastel sunsets.

We have the prettiest sunsets around here. From the pastel skies above to the most beautiful rainbows of anywhere I’ve ever lived.

Crazy skies – Double rainbow.

And this is very consistent weather. Anytime there is a storm come through in the evening where the sun pops out of the sky we get edge to edge rainbows. Super bright and very distinct colors.

And if there is a sunset with clouds in the sky they turn pastel as the sun angle dips below the cloud line like the picture above. I can take this same picture any given day of the week when there are clouds present. Deep pastel colors of deep blue, pink and purple are always present.

I hope it’s pretty where you live and that you love where you’ve hung your hat as much as I do here. Have a super day!

The calm before the rain storm.

In another few hours it will start raining. I’m writing this after the fact not knowing exactly when it’ll start and how much it rains but what I did know is that we needed the rain.

When we go from dry to wet the sunsets before are pretty spectacular.

Sunset July 20, 2017

I do my best to capture what it looks like around here when the sky changes during the golden hour of dusk. The photo is nothing like standing around here watching the hues change from harsh light to pastel. Then the light fades into infrared glow and then, around here at least, total darkness.

Surface of Jupiter? Or hay field?

No, just some hay bales from 400 feet above.

20 years ago I wracked my brain trying to figure out how to get a camera elevated to take some photos. I figured that the view up there with a still camera that could be somehow controlled would make for interesting photography.

My process was a complicated and unscientific process involving a big kite and a windy day; the polar opposite of what I do today. But I kept trying because I just knew there would be interesting photography up there. I knew this because I flew an airplane and wanted a way to capture the beauty of what I saw when I flew.

My ideas didn’t amount to much. Most of the photography I have is from a camera in my hand while at the controls of an aircraft flying over 100 miles an hour. Hardly stationary but with some work I could get the photos I was looking for. But boy was it expensive and time consuming.

I’m glad I was able to see this process unfold in my lifetime. This is a view you can only get from a stationary platform relatively close to earth but high enough to see the contrast that will tell a story.

The photo above is a story of mid-summer harvest. The fruit of someone’s planning. Some of the bales are new and some are from the last harvest. Still, there must be a need for this stored energy.

They made hay while it was dry and made some interesting etching on the earth in the process.

It would rain the next day. Four inches of rain fell from the sky and turned everything deep green again around here.