Friday, May 27, 2011

My Head in the Clouds

Characteristics of a Scientist include...

Observation.  Imagination.  A sense of wonder.  An understanding that the Learning Curve never ends.  A hunger to learn more. A willingness to look up as well as down.

One of my side interests is the observation and photography of clouds.

"Atmospheric Optics" is an excellent site for info on clouds and other atmospheric phenomena.  There are others worthy of visits as you embark upon your self-taught journey into Nephology - the study of clouds and cloud formation.  Some of the phenomena show on Atmospheric Optics are things I will probably never see first hand, but there are others that - having been shown them - I will certainly be watching for.
This beautiful cloud was photographed in the early 1990s, looking eastward from the eastern margin of El Paso.  I would guess that the horizontal distance to the area below the center of the cloud would be about 20 - 30 miles.  My only regret is that I didn't jump into my truck and travel a bit further east to get a clearer view of the rest of the eastern sky.

Learning about clouds is truly a challenge, as there often is an element of interpretation as to what name to apply.  There are also clouds that are combinations of two or more types.

Another challenge is the clouds are often in a constant state of flux as well as lateral movement.  Particular structures may only exist for a few seconds to minutes.  Or wind conditions may be blowing clouds away from you as you wish to gain a better view for photographic purposes.  I once spent about 20 minutes  driving through the northern Atlanta "burbs" chasing some clouds as they were blown westward.  If not for traffic lights and traffic, itself, I might have made it for a better view.  But they just got progressively further away from me the harder I tried.

When I rarely travel by air, I prefer to sit by a window with a camera to pass the time.  This image is actually from a scanned slide, originally taken by my Dad in the late 1950s/early 1960s.  It took a bit of time on Photoshop to remove dust spots and scratches. 

As time permits, I will try to post a few more photos of my favorite clouds.

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