On Monday night, I decided to photograph Comet NEOWISE. The comet was first discovered on March 28 and spotted by NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer; that's how the comet earned the name “NEOWISE". It is the 3rd comet that I recall seeing in my lifetime. Growing up, I remember Halley's Comet back in 1986 and Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. To the naked eye, those comets seemed brighter and more visible than this one. Even after getting away from city lights, Comet NEOWISE was only barely visible to my naked eye. However, it is one of the first comets of the digital photography era and these more faint comets show up much better in today's high ISO digital cameras. This image was a 8 second exposure at ISO 3200.
After doing some research on where to find the comet, I wanted to find a location where I can could easily incorporate the landscape with the comet...not just point my camera at only the sky. This involved determining a relatively dark place away from towns with an wide open view to the northwest. I concluded with Horseshoe Lake northwest of Clarksville in the Ozark National Forest. The foreground of the lake and the Boston Mountains complimented the comet. About 40 miles away (as the crow flies) northwest of here is the city of Fayetteville. With my camera facing northwest, it appears that the city lights from the main cities of Northwest Arkansas illuminated the cirrus clouds beneath the comet.
You can see the comet for a little while longer below the Big Dipper in the northwest sky after sunset. It is best seen with binoculars. However, after July 23, it will get a little dimmer each day as the comet moves away from Earth.
Earlier this month, I returned from Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It was the first out of the region travel I had done since COVID-19. While I did take my camera, it was more of a vacation with my wife than a photography centered trip. Most of these pictures were captured early in the morning while my wife slept in.
Below are 4 pictures taken from the island of Martha's Vineyard.
Next, it was on to another sister island off the coast of Cape Cod...Nantucket.
The landscape of New England is perhaps best known for its numerous lighthouses. These lighthouses at Cape Cod and Nantucket were cloaked in dense fog.
Rhode Island was not on our original itinerary. However, with Coronavirus out-of-state travel restrictions still in place for Maine, we decided to instead spend some time in Rhode Island. We were pleasantly surprised and especially liked the small island of Block Island. Until recently, I never saw any pictures from Block Island. It is a popular destination for people that live in Rhode Island, but it doesn't get much attention to people outside of New England. I found its coastline to be quite scenic and its beauty underrated.
The last week of May featured an unsettled weather pattern in Arkansas. Above is a picture of a shelf cloud coming into Van Buren on the evening of Memorial Day. A shelf cloud is typically associated with a solid line of thunderstorms, also known as a squall line. Although brief tornadoes can occur on a squall line, they are typically rain-wrapped and short lived. The main threat with them is usually the straight line winds that occur with the shelf cloud. The wind will come first with the rain following behind it.
I only spent a little time looking at the shelf cloud near Van Buren before I had to drive back north toward Fayetteville to stay ahead of the line of storms. After getting back to a meadow on the western outskirts of Fayetteville, I was able to get there in time to record a time lapse of the approaching line of storms. Below is a 10 minute long capture at 10 times the speed to make for a minute long video.
On the afternoon of May 27th, I captured another time lapse of a storm coming into the Upper Buffalo Wilderness area. This storm was below severe limits and was not as dramatic a shelf cloud as the one that came into Fayetteville a couple of days earlier. However, it was still interesting to see the rain draw closer to me. Below is a 20 minute long capture at 20 times the speed to make for a minute long video.
May is typically among the wettest months of the year in Arkansas and is one of the best months for waterfalls. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the last couple of weeks. Each of these pictures below are from Newton County.
I haven't done quite as much photography this spring as I have most spring seasons. Part of that has to do with limiting my time away from home with some of the quarantine measures. Some trails are closed while others are open. One trail that remains open is the Ozark Highlands Trail, which is a long distance backpacking trail that passes through some of the most remote and scenic portions of the Boston Mountains. One of my bucket list items is to see the entire trail from Lake Fort Smith to the lower part of the Buffalo River. I have done about 1/2 of this, mostly in the form of bite sized dayhikes. It is a good place to escape to in a time like this, as every time I go I see no people or no more than a few people on a hike with many times seeing no people this time. This time, I only saw 2 other hikers on my way to Hare Mountain in the Ozark National Forest. Located in northern Franklin County, it is the highest point on the Ozark Highlands Trail.
On my hike this week, I found one of the more prolific displays of wildflowers that I have seen in the Ozarks. I believe that all the flowers pictured here are phlox.
Last week, this old tree near Atkins, Arkansas fell victim to a storm. I only photographed this lone, old tree a couple of times...once in daytime and once at night. I do know some other photographers in the state who has photographed this dozens, if not over a hundred times. It was one of the most photographed individual trees in the state. Personally, I preferred the look of this tree at night with its emphasis on its shape in the form of a silhouette. I am sharing you my favorite image of this tree with the Milky Way. This picture was taken in July of last year shortly after the Arkansas River flooded last year so there was a lot of mud and standing water still leftover from the recent flood. With all that moisture on the ground, one of the most memorable things about the shoot was all the mosquitos biting me while I was trying to take those pictures. Rest in peace old tree.
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