Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Storm Chasing in Nevada

Sunset storm over the Cambridge Hills in Lyon County, Nevada
Smith Valley south of Wellington
At Topaz Lake on the California/Nevada border,  and I had a storm pass by earlier this month.  There was lighting over by Wellington in Smith Valley, so we decided to chase it east into Smith Valley to see if we could catch some lightning photos. 

We saw some flashes of lightning in the distance, but it was way ahead of us.  We didn't catch the storm in Smith Valley; it continued over the next set of mountains to Mason Valley, south of Yerington.

So we headed through Wilson Canyon and once in Mason Valley headed south, ending up in the Cambridge Hills as the skies cleared towards the setting sun, and "golden hour" color spread under the storm clouds. 

Crepuscular rays, sun rays, were streaming down past the clouds.  I had to pull over to catch a quick hand-held picture.

The storm was to the west, the sun was shining under it from the east, and we were under the edge, which ran north and south.

I continued on to where I knew there was an old stone building in the Cambridge Hills mining district that could serve as s good foreground subject.  The light was perfect with a dark, shadowy hill in the middle and the clouds breaking up, revealing a mountain in the distance.

We headed west over the hills, but the country was opening up and there would be few foreground subjects, so we backtracked briefly to shoot toward the sun.  We turned north on a two track side road through the sagebrush, and at some point had to simply stop and make do with whatever foregrounds we could compose, as the light was going off, and it would't last.

We had some great opportunities as the sun went from yellow to orange and shot light under the storm clouds, while the clouds to the east of us started to take on shades at the blue end of the spectrum (above).  

When you mix cool and warm tones, blue cloud-diffused light with orange to red sunset tones, you can get shares of purple, pink and magenta.  Some people don't believe that those tones happen in the sky in real life, but there they were, and they were consistently captured across multiple cameras.  

When the best of the color was past, and the sky darkened and faded a bit, I could  slow down, start to put away my DSLR, and see what  smartphone could do with what was left.  A panorama seemed appropriate to show the transition into the darkness under the storm.

We stuck around to capture a time-lapse of the clouds moving as the storm dissipated, and as the nearly-full moon rose behind them.

We never did catch up to the storm of capture any lightning shots, but we sure found some great conditions that we never could have anticipated!  Sometimes showing up is what it takes to see the amazing things that happen all around us every day. 

Last golden hour light before the sky went crazy.