Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Running Ahead of the Storm

This has been a very unusual May for northern California, especially the Sacramento Valley.

While it isn't completely unusual to have rain and cool weather, it is usual to have almost daily thunderstorms, and it's extremely unusual to have tornadoes - both of which we've had.

In a single week, we had 4 severe thunderstorms pass over Chico, including three tornadoes just south of town that made the national news and damaged a number of orchards. One night we had nickel-sized hail fill our back yard.

The frequent storms and cool, cloudy weather have thwarted most of my attempts to do any landscape photography in the past month or so, but last Saturday I was determined to get out no matter what the weather.

Of course, a major thunder cell emerged from the north as I headed into the field and began to move south down the valley. Though I had originally intended to head north, once I saw this huge stormfront, I turned around and ran south to stay ahead of the storm.

The Coming Storm

Unfortunately, the storm caught up to me right as the sun was setting. I was hoping to get some 'God rays' - beams of sunlight through the clouds - as the sun set, but the cloud thickened up too much for that.

Sunset ahead of the storm

However, I did get a few colorful sunset images over the rice fields before the storm closed in and dumped buckets of water.

Sunset ahead of the storm

All in all, it was a fun shoot, and I always enjoy extreme weather.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Endless Spring of Wildflowers

...or so it seems! We've been blessed with a wonderful and long lasting wildflower bloom this year, as you can tell from this post and this post and this post.

Before the spring comes to a complete end, I thought I'd publish at least one more post featuring wildflowers from the foothills surrounding the Sacramento Valley.

Triteleia laxa
Triteleia laxa at Black Butte Lake

Royal Larkspur
Royal Larkspur (delphinium variegatum) at Black Butte Lake

Black Butte Lake is a reliable place to go for larkspurs, lupines and triteleia, and this year was no exception.

While Lupine near Newville
White Lupine on Newville Road

A surprise for me this year, was Clark Valley Road, west of Willows. There were wildflowers of all varieties, easily accessible all along the road. Next year, I'm going back there without a doubt.

White Lupine
White Lupine on Clarks Valley Road

White Lupine
White Lupine on Clarks Valley Road

Monday, May 16, 2011

More Spring in the Foothills

We've been blessed this year with a long luxurious spring, due mostly to the heavy winter rains and the moderate temperatures (that will change soon, I'm sure).

Rows of Hills
Hills on Newville Road.

It has given me plenty of opportunities to get out to the west side of the Sacramento Valley, to remote and obscure places like Newville, Paskenta, and Sites, to capture the beauty of the foothills in spring. The green that lasted so long this year is rapidly fading, turning rapidly into the 'California gold' that is both dull and beautiful at the same time.

Oaks on the Hills
Oaks near Newville

Newville Road
Newville Road

Oak Tree on Hills near Newville.
Oak tree against the hills

But spring isn't quite done yet, and I'll have more photos before it's done!