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Sunday, 27 April 2014


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It's another gray weekend in New England. Another one. I agree with you 100% about what constitutes beautiful weather, but after this winter if we can't get a few 70 degree sunny weekends I'm gonna lose it.

Of course, we have no shortage of "real" beautiful days here in Northen California, and that's the problem, both from a practical and photographic perspective. Beautiful days usually consist of sunny days and blue cloudless skies. The operative word here being "cloudless". And therein lies the rub. We've had so many beautiful days since May 2013, that we are in a potentially serious drought condition this year, and, to top it off, there are usually no clouds to add drama to our pictures.

So, as photographers, we welcome storms....we all know here in NorCal we REALLY need the water, but it's also only right after a storm that we have some really beautiful clouds for our photography.

My father's and mother's families are Minnesotans (and German, Dutch, and Serbian before that). Papa, Momma, and the five little Behrs moved to Arizona in 1960, to escape at least the horrible weather and seemingly-always-quarreling relatives. Dad's next-older brother and family came to AZ some years later. He used to say something like 'summer, summer...I think it was on July 19th the last year we were back home'.

In the Arizona desert (the very large Phoenix area), we have six months of summer, six months of gorgeous nonsummer weather, and no winter. I like that better than snow, sleet, never-ending mud in the spring, P-51-size mosquitos, etc.


Here's my idea of a beautiful day -- [url=http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=11904&title=fz200-awesome-skiesprime-002-dxo-medium&cat=500][img]http://seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/500/FZ200_awesome_skiesPrime_002_DxO_Medium_.jpg[/img][/url]--">http://seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/500/FZ200_awesome_skiesPrime_002_DxO_Medium_.jpg[/img][/url]--">http://www.seriouscompacts.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=11904&title=fz200-awesome-skiesprime-002-dxo-medium&cat=500][img]http://seriouscompacts.com/gallery/data/500/FZ200_awesome_skiesPrime_002_DxO_Medium_.jpg[/img][/url]-- captured last fall.

I am a self-confessed, unrepentant, not-in-the-12-step-program sky freak. I saw this beautiful cloud formation and stepped outside to capture it with my FZ200. Just then, some geese boomed by overhead and I snapped a couple of frames trying to catch them. I got extremely lucky to catch them at the break in the clouds.

I call it simply "Southbound."

"Yeah, these eight days are why we live in Wisconsin!"

Michael Flanders of the masterful duo Flanders and Swan commented on the change of seasons in England: "Spring? I missed it last year — I was in the bathroom."

We have the same "eight days" of good weather (beautiful days) down here in Dallas Texas, too. Actually it's twice a year, during the transitions between Blistering Summer and Rain/Cold Winter. And I grew up in Minneapolis too - sometimes I actually believe I miss having a real winter. I bet you could straighten me out on that misconception pretty quick!


"...This time of year, you never know when it's going to be a beautiful day..."

Exactly. After a late-season snow storm yesterday in northern Arizona (5" snow in Flagstaff, AZ) I was able to grab a few quick shots of fresh snow on the crab apple blossoms in my front yard in brilliant early morning sunshine -- before I had to go to work. (Haven't had a chance to review the images yet.)


I remember listening in the 80's to the announcer at Milwaukee's classical station who used to speak about the day being an "introspective" day. I always enjoyed his take regarding cloudy, overcast weather.

I thought it a good way to have a positive view when the sun wasn't shining.

Yeah, I hate the way people here seem to idolize what I consider nasty hot weather. 60 is plenty -- you can actually do things at 60, without getting all sweaty.

A beautiful day is completely different from a day for beautiful photographs

Totally agree with Mike here.
A 'beautiful day' to me is one that is photogenic, at least to my eye. Which in turn depends on the season.
In autumn a beautiful day really means bright overcast, dead calm, after a soaking overnight rain that leaves all the foliage saturated with color and the streams & waterfalls full.
In spring it's puffy cumulus clouds and endlessly deep cerulean skies that complement the apple blossoms in our orchard.
Winter? Pink/orange lit clouds with warm sunlight splashing across last night's fresh powder snow.
But summer, now....I don't think there is any 'beautiful' summer weather, at least in the Northeast. It just veers from milky humid ugly haze to flat white skies to the kind of cloudless blue that leaves you nursing a forlorn hope that one or two clouds might appear before sundown to relieve the endless olive drab foliage.

...and the bugs. Lots of bugs.

Amen brother!
Although my personality type is quite a bit different than yours I'm in comlete agreement about that "beautiful day" stuff. Anything over 78F and I shut down completly. From 68F to 78F I can function on a much reduced level, like sitting in the shade sipping icewater. The thing is, even when I was a scrawny kid, 6'2" and 160lbs I hated the hot summer time. Now that I'm an old fat guy and live in the Pacific NW I usually only have to 'shut down' from July through September. Photographly it does not matter to me what the sky looks like since I'm inside sitting in front of the fan with a very cold IPA.

Any day that I can get out of bed is a beautiful day.

Separately, I've found that I enjoy all kinds of weather short of heavy rain. Many times I've delayed walking the dog (he hates it when that happens) because it's cold or damp or hot or snowing or late or early or ... and when I finally man up and shoe up and harness up and get outside I enjoy it. I really enjoy it.

It' a beautiful day!

A sunny day, that's what most folks mean. Hot or not, it doesn't matter-- if they face only minimal personal contact with that weather, and they don't face the climactic implications of endless days of beautiful weather. Ask the Californians how a winter of beautiful weather is working out. And just two days ago, as I was leaving the dermatologists' office after a scary biopsy from an unmentionable but quite shady place, a man on the elevator said, "Nice weather today."

"Yes, if you like the sun," I said.

Sunny weather doesn't disrupt your routine like snow does, or make you wet and sloppy like rain does. So call that "easy weather," if you like. But living here on the edge of the desert, with my dermatologist on speed dial, I can't miss the dark side of a cloudless day.

I believe our common bias towards the sun shows the power of English literature. From the first nursery rhymes to the romantic poets to modern songwriters, the association between sun and happiness is set in cultural cement. "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone... it's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day."

And so it usually is. So out comes the broad-brimmed hat and the sunscreen. And crank that DRO up to +4, you know? But something inside my Scottish soul wishes I was holding an umbrella instead.

I heard the same music and a lot more but I did all that dirty work at night. So you can think that this put me apart of the nice or bad weather. But no. Good nights are good if there are not much humid or rain. I never had a darkroom with current water. So I needed to go out to wash the prints. Was a walk or 30 or more meters. I liked smell the air at night and see if there are stars. You make me unearth my memories. Ah, the prints, the music, the drinks and sometimes the girls.

Gad, Mike... i'm not from the Upper Midwest (but I was almost news director of the old WBCS in Milwaukee) but I have to say I'm right there with you when It comes to being in the minority and having atypical (at least in terms of American) tastes. I plead guilty on the intellectual, artistic and socialist fronts. I also get strange looks when I talk about how I prefer stick shifts, B&W and fIlm noir.

And, as a former (but long-time) radio and television person, it has always puzzled me how the weather people (and pretty much everyone else) boiled it all down to a simple formula: warm/hot = good; cool/cold = bad. But my personal favorites have generally been clear/crisp autumn days and overcast but dry early winter days.

Can't say as I'd ever heard of the Smiths, but then I haven't kept up much since forever. But, just to be out of step (which you should relate to, right?), can't say I thought much of that song. The link took me to 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable'. Did you mean that one? How is it gay? Like I said, I don't keep up, but.. I at least think I'd recognize 'the gayest song ever'. Maybe I'm more out of it than I think.

Ah well -

[I can't actually claim any special expertise about knowing what's gay and what's not. But the way Liberace talked, Elton's sunglasses, and the way Morrissey dances (even without the bush hanging fron his pants--what's up with that?) always seemed to qualify. --Mike]

"No weather" reminds me of when some people say "no accent" when they really mean "American accent."

Where did I recently read this (paraphrased) quote from a postcard sent by a photographer? "Terrible weather again today -- sunny and cloudless!"

Also, I have to admit, it's pretty amazing living in a world where "gayest ever" has become a compliment.

When I lived in Chicago, we used to say there were two seasons-Winter, and August.

Mike, i'll gladly trade you two weeks of your miserable winter weather for an equal or greater amount of our rotten 98degree, 130pct humidity (only SLIGHTLY exagerated) summer heat, when even the air conditioner is panting. I have sadly long since gotten rid of my cross-country skis. A foot of snow here is a major year's accumulation. For me, a beautiful day is a crisp 45-65 degree partly cloudy day, say in autumn. Here hear D.C. its a rarity. Sigh.......


> Even T/A humans don't like it when it's 105°F/40°C

We just had a wee blip in the spring time temps here (here being about 40 kms north of Tokyo), and according to two thermometers outside yesterday, it was either 37 or 40 degrees Celsius.

Today we're back to regular programming at a far more reasonable 32 / 35 °C.

Winter brings a realistic dose of frigid depression, a reminder that nature is both beautiful and harsh. Folks in perpetually sunny places like Arizona have an unrealistically bright view of the world as a whole. Jeffrey of Minnesota heritage, move back north where weather is a daily metaphor for life itself. Breathe, suffer, and feel alive.

Bring your coat. It's still April.

In "The Hills" 40km east of Melbourne, in the Antipodes, we specialise in "four seasons in one day" weather. That's why our Bureau of Meteorology is based here. I consider Autumn to have generally the best weather: reasonably settled, relatively mild with a variety of conditions. And there are the colours of autumn leaves on the deciduous trees. Just wonderful.

In Spring, our native plants generally produce their flowers. This is where a macro lens comes into it's own: many of these flowers are quite small and delicate. A treat for those who make the time to look closely.

I was about to list the minority categories to which I belong, but I think I shan't: "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member".
(With thanks to Groucho Marx. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Groucho_Marx )

I was dancing to Bad Company back in those days.

I have always disagreed with the weather-person's Happy Boy/Happy Girl talk of "good weather." I once lived in Spokane Washington, where during a summer of serious drought, the airheaded fellows continued to call yet another day of hot, dry weather "beautiful." I suppose if all you did was sit on your wallet in a nice airconditioned office all day, it was beautiful.

Of course, when it turned winter, every slightly heavy snowfall was named something like "White Death '91," or "Oh, no we're all gonna die Blizzard '92." Watch us at 10 for details! Naturally with live shots of some doofus standing out in the falling snow telling us it is snowing.

I don't miss any of that in Tokyo. Now we are often informed that the expected weather is "changeable." Oh, who'da guessed?

End of grouchy rant.

Is the RF/DC UPstrap suitable for the big dragoon? Their site recommends a larger version.
I'm looking to replace the Nikon strap with something more discreet and more comfortable.

[I've had no trouble with the small strap on any camera, including the D800. I don't like the larger straps because there's too much pad in the way when it's not on your shoulder. YMMV. --Mike]

Mike, are you familiar with The Smiths album 'The Queen is Dead'? Widely regarded (by me!)as their masterpiece, it contains many wonders,but when it comes to the gayest song stakes... I'll see your 'Heaven Knows' and raise you 'Cemetery Gates' and 'Vicar in a Tutu'.
Now that's camp!

I, too, have been using the expression 'no weather today' for many years. I get your sense of humour! I like days when there is LOTS of weather.

Pool and billiards are not a SPORT. Just like Bowling and Golf - they are activities. People can and do compete but they are not sports.

[I think you're wrong. The origin of the term is that sport is "a source of amusement or entertainment" either for participants or spectators. While competition is a necessary component (which pool clearly satisfies), the idea that sport must include physical exertion as well as physical skill is a disreputable modern notion, without foundation.

And I've never heard "activities" as a plausible alternative term--the rival term would be "game" IMO. In any event it's up to participants to decide what they consider sporting. I see no reason why competitive bowling or golf would not be considered sport. --Mike]

Good weather joke Mike. I grew up in North Dakota and the standard gag up there was "If summer falls on a Saturday this year we're all going fishing".

> [The Police's] evil stalker song which for some reason nobody had the slightest problem with.

Hah. People used to play it at their weddings, fer goshsakes. "Because it's SO romantic!" So far as I can figure out, the main possibilities are that such persons: 1) never really listened to the lyrics, 2) are about as dense between the ears as depleted uranium, 3) have disturbing interpersonal relationships.

Back on topic. We had a few moments of beautiful "photography weather" here just west of the Hub of the Universe (/sarc) yesterday in the early evening. It had just finished raining, and the sun was coming out of the clouds at a low angle. We were driving through the Newton Cemetery admiring the many flowering trees therein, when a big tom turkey in all his mating regalia stepped up onto a small rise into the light of the setting sun and puffed out his then-splendedly iridescent feathers to impress his sweetheart -- who ambled along the roadside, seemingly quite indifferent to ol' Tom's strutting and fretting. I had an old 35mm camera (Nikon FG-20, cost two bucks (!) and 21, 28 and 100mm lenses that I had recently acquired and was playing with) in the back seat, but what saved the day was one of those Panasonic superzooms with 400 mm-e reach. The light passed, Tom sleeked his feathers down and hurried off after the hen turkey. Not exactly Nature Photography, but a nice "remembery" of the event. It was cool, rained intermittently all day, but those 15 minutes of glorious light made it all worthwhile.

Blankets of snow followed by sheets of rain;
bed weather ahead.

I don't see the RF UPstrap listed on their site anymore. It shows up on their main page, but not on their order page. Any idea if they still make it (maybe it was replaced with the "f" strap).

London: Sunny days...yes, we do have them, sometimes more than one in a row. In fact most of last summer was a photography slump for me. Crowds, haze, pollution and terrible contrast.

I much prefer grey days, especially just after the rain when the clouds brighten and you may even get a shaft of light slicing through slate clouds. They are crisp and dramatic, and somehow more in keeping with the architecture.

I am very grateful for modern cameras. My D800 can capture so much detail and DR even at ISO 1600 that urban photography is a far more flexible proposition on a cloudy day or even after dark than it ever was before.

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