Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012 from the Holy City

I snapped some shots of the Christmas lights in Marion Square in downtown Charleston, along with the nearby churches. Above is Citadel Square Baptist.

St. Matthew's Lutheran, as viewed from underneath the city's tree of lights.

Citadel Square Baptist Church again.

St. Matthew's Lutheran with the tree of lights.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Panorama of a tornadic storm over Kiawah Island

On Aug. 1, I was driving to my West Ashley home after work when I looked to the south and saw a large anvil cloud. It was associated with a thunderstorm over Kiawah Island, where the PGA Championship golf tournament was set to take place in the next few weeks. While I was snapping photos for this multi-image panorama, I received a text message saying a weak tornado was spotted under this storm. It was too far off to chase down.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Foliage shots from a quick trip north

I flew to Maine last week for my grandfather's funeral, and I had a few chances to shoot the fall foliage. Above is a panorama of Stump Pond in Lincoln, about an hour from my hometown. I've been there before.
The sun didn't show itself much during my stay. This was as good as it got.
The dam at Stump Pond.
Not much wind on this day, but sunshine would have made the colors pop.
Near Topsfield, which is about 20 minutes from my hometown, the wind was stiff, and the foliage wasn't quite as colorful.
Near my parents' place in Princeton, I ventured out and took some shots. Guess what this is? Yeah, it's a mushroom. And a few leaves.
Orange and red maple leaves, backdropped by birch trees.
Yellow maple leaves on the roadside.
Maple leaves near a cabin on my parents' dirt street.
The view from my parents' property, looking over Grand Falls Flowage.
I was raised on the end of a peninsula on the lake, which offered sunset views. This one featured a couple of loons.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A storm's backside

Click for larger view. On July 17, I ran over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, as usual, and saw this storm form and move off to the north. I thought the view was somewhat interesting, as a storm's rear is usually shrouded by rain and rarely photogenic.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Intense lightning, a shelf cloud and another bridge

On July 24, I drove a short distance to the Ashley River, where the North Bridge connects Charleston and North Charleston. I set up by the river as a severe thunderstorm rolled through. The above shot is of the shelf cloud that it formed, and a crescent moon.

Even at night, the layers in the clouds were plain to see when lit by lightning.

The lightning was frequent, but I struggled to capture it without my rain-ruined Nikon, which is equipped with a remote control.

The precipitation seemed focused in the central section of the storm.

Lightning through the rain.

The lightning illuminated some nice structure underneath this storm. It was surprisingly healthy for a storm that formed after sunset and persisted in the nighttime hours.

The shelf cloud directly overhead.

I looked in the other direction and saw the shelf cloud pushing into Charleston.

A branching bolt extended from a low cloud.

It's electric.

A closeup.

After a bit, the rain became unbearable, and I took cover under the bridge, where people where casting nets for fish.

This shot represents four sequential strikes in the same column. Unlike anything I've heard, thunder actually rang out four distinct times. Deafening.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A tree and a lens that are no longer with us

Back in March, I visited my girlfriend in Charleston, W.V., and used my macro lens for the last time. I shot some bees that were swarming in the blossoms of this tree near her house.

Sadly, however, both the tree and the lens are long gone. The tree fell in June during the destructive derecho -- a large and long-lasting complex of thunderstorms -- that started in the Midwest, swept across the Appalachians and marched straight to the coast. And my macro lens, of course, was stolen earlier that same month.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Apparently, Nikons can't cheat death

A fire chief looks at the rain falling on the sidewalk outside the Spoleto Festival USA headquarters on George Street in downtown Charleston.

On July 11, I was out on an assignment when I was told to head to the scene of a suspected lightning strike at an important building in downtown Charleston.

A severe thunderstorm was pushing through the area, bringing hail, heavy wind and torrential rain.

When I got there, I put my work-owned Canon into a Rainsleeve and my Nikon into a plastic bag, which then went inside a shoulder bag. I took shots with the Canon, but I never removed my Nikon.

I thought it was safe.

I went on to other locations in the downtown area, photographing tourists walking through putrid floodwater on Market Street. My clothes got soaked.

It was all for a relatively routine story: Flooding is quite common here.

The Canon stayed dry. But later that evening, when I removed the bag containing my Nikon from my vehicle, I noticed that the plastic bag inside was soaked and the camera inside that was wet as well.

I placed the Nikon under a ceiling fan all day, then into a bag of rice. But the battery apparently shorted out at one point, and I think some circuitry must have been destroyed.

Regardless, my Nikon went kaput only two weeks after I got it back from the person who stole it. I delayed writing about it in hopes that I could resurrect the camera, but I had no such luck.

I suppose I've had a streak of bad luck. When it rains, it pours.

People took pictures on a flooded Market Street during the severe thunderstorm.

In hindsight, this was gross. I'm pretty sure there was sewage in them there waters.

The guy in the middle was lifting his shirt in an attempt to guard his nose from the stench.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A quickie storm replaced by crepuscular rays

This was the view July 10 as I went for my run up the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. This panorama made from seven separate iPhone photos shows the bridge in front of me, the ramp behind me (to the right) and the impending storm above.
The thunderstorm that was labeled severe at one point came from the north in this view from the top of The Post and Courier building.
The storm approaches downtown Charleston.
Rain was illuminated by sunlight.
As I made my way up the bridge, I felt some light rain, but there was a hole in the clouds.
Sunlight nicely punched through the clouds on either side of the bridge.
More crepuscular rays during the last leg of my run.
And the blue sky took over.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fireworks and the beautiful city of Charleston

My girlfriend, her daughter and I went downtown for the fireworks display over the harbor on the Fourth of July. I snapped a few pics from the Charleston Maritime Center. The above photo was posted on The Post and Courier's Facebook page and received 168 "likes." Not that anyone is counting.

It turned out that our location offered a nice view of the fireworks and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. But the bursts were still sort of low in the sky.

It was the first time I photographed fireworks anywhere but on the beach. A cityscape was a nice change.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Doing what I could with what I had

Before I got my cameras back, I still chased clouds. On this day, I drove over some of the islands near Charleston -- James, Johns and Wadmalaw -- and down Maybank Highway (above) to get ahead of a thunderstorm. I took shots with my iPhone.

The storm was uneventful. It died out before I could get any decent photos. It dropped hail and blew down trees at one point, but I never saw any of that.

At the end of Maybank Highway on Wadmalaw Island, I saw some low scud clouds over Bohicket Creek.

Scuds look dramatic at times because the droop like crazy, but they're harmless.