August 29, 2008 Desoto Bend Iowa Steam Devils and other Fog Scenes

Yet another fog outing after 3 hours of sleep. These are cool when they pan out. Lately they've not panned out so well. I figured this go around clouds would not screw up the temps from dropping. I wondered if the winds would, but they fell off to nothing pretty early. Blair wasn't reporting very cool when I got up, shortly before 4 a.m. Tekamah however was saying 49. I do the regular "dew check" out my windows, and see the grass has some. If it's not there, there can still be lake fog, but rarely much crop fog. So anyway, since it was that cold and dewy I figured Murray Hill would be a good option. With a very crescent moon to rise around 5, I knew moon-lit ops weren't there, so no need to get up there too early.

I pass some fog just as I get into IA, then drive out of it. I get to Mondamin and say screw Murray Hill and head back south. Getting widespread, thicker crop fog, seems to be very tricky. It's either some fields have some of it, or the fog is general fog and far too deep/tall to get above. Just hard to get all the fields to produce a lot of it. I think you about need excessive rain in an area, followed by very cool temps. All I know is it is getting annoying waking up for it and it never happening. Reminds me of aurora "chasing". Can waste a lot of time for the rare times it works out. At least with these there's lake/river steam/fog to shoot instead.

The crescent moon came up as I approached Missouri Valley on I29. When it is very crescent like it was(2%) you get what is called "Earth Shine". Sunlight reflects off Earth enough to illuminate the dark side of the moon some. I just needed to get somewhere to shoot it. I also wanted to shoot cars in that fog I'd driven through. The above is that location, only maybe 2 miles east of Blair. I should have ISO'd up some of them and froze the vehicles more.

I think I'm now standing on top of my car, tripod fully extended, trying not to move during the 10 second shutters. I'm sure the cars on highway 30 thought there must be something wrong with me.

Another not so interesting shot of cars and fog. It looked a lot cooler than these blurred/streaking stills. I blew what was cool with them moments after this one. The headlights had corona rainbow circles with them, as they drove through the fog. It only worked from a certain spot closer to the highway, right as they went through the fog down there. Of course the fog moves as I get setup. That is one annoying thing about fog scenes like these. When you see an especially cool shot, you'd better be taking it very soon. Stuff changes so much and so frequently. Two areas on the highway had fog, and cars doing that with their lights. Both moved or dissipated at the same time. I was tempted to stick around and hope it came/moved back, but I'm just unable to do that with so much else to shoot.

Still on my car.

In Desoto now.

I of course had to get a shot of a car under there, so I used mine, then ran back down the road. It's really strange, when I backed up to get under it, it really didn't look like you were in it then. You get away from it some and can then see it. I backed into it and was like, where the hell did it go.

At times it looked very cool being under or near the edge of it. It's just very hard to capture it like it looks. This above looks pretty funny. That is actually a grey car that drove by slowly, as I sat behind my car with the camera. Speed limit is 30 in there, and people stop on the road all the time to watch wildlife. Considering that and the time, on a Friday, it's not a huge deal to sit where I was.

There was another vehicle right behind the first one, moving a lot quicker, maybe 30mph. Those were the only two I saw for quite a while.

Part of me hates the fog and sunrise. You just never know where the hell you want to be and when you want to be there, so many options. The Missouri River is over there, you can see it on the right.

Heron on the lake. I've never seen so many of them there. Same with the deer. If you want to see wildlife, that place is pretty packed this year. I think they have openings for deer hunts in there soon though, and well. Something about that seems so ironic, lol. National wildlife refuge.....boom! Gotta wonder what the deer think. Lies!

I'm bringing a fisherman with me next time. He was making some interesting compositions/shots. I'm just not real big on pointing my camera at someone that may not want it.

I need to learn how to process the RAW files better for scenes like this. The colors and lightness just never look right. Change the white balance all one wants and it still looks goofy with sun on steam.

I don't think he liked having his picture taken. I thought I was far enough away he'd just think I was pointing at the nearby Heron.

This is why it is good to keep moving around to new locations while the scenes all keep changing so fast, with the rising sun. I saw some strong rays in areas, then stopped to shoot this one. I then saw the bright corona action going on around it. Pretty dang cool. Same corona type thing I got the last time, only this time I was actually seeing it at the time, since the tress were dimming the brightness a lot more than the other time without anything blocking the sun.

I had to try for the fisherman scene again, so back here I went. I screwed up some cool shots with him and the heron flying around. For one I had the exposure compensation set at almost +2 stops, since the scenes had been needing it. So each of my heron shots with him were blown out. And I never stopped down far enough for a better DOF. Always next time! Or not, since I never see anyone fishing in the steam from the rocks early.

I'm sure he's thinking, "damn kids!". I'm in my driver's seat with my car pointing away from there. I'd try and look through the back window to see when he wasn't looking, then grab a couple. I'm also at 400mm and not terribly close anyway.

Best stuff from the whole morning is on the following page.

Hmmm, I just thought of something. I need a boat, or at least a little kayak. Then again, losing my camera gear in a lake doesn't sound too thrilling. I could get some closer steam devil shots from a boat, or just close scenes like the above...etc.

I love these things! Two steam devils attacking that building over there. Or at least it looks that way. I learned one thing with these, and that is just over expose the sunlight on the water. It's hard to give the vortex the exposure it deserves if you don't.

There is actually a really big steam devil at the front of that boat. It looked like they drove right towards the thing when it formed. It was never really defined. It's going up out of the top of the frame though.

This one has a debris bowl! Right above the water.

The motion in these things really is incredible. Looked cooler than the motion in any of the tornadoes I've seen. Just rapid rings appearing to go up and down in there. I will definitely shoot some video next time.

With the right conditions, it is very easy to watch them form over and over. It can at times be hard to get stills of them though. Often you find one right before it vanishes. Staring into the reflecting sunlight doesn't make it any easier. It was around 50-55 now, and the side of my black canon was getting warm. I was using the lens to block the sunlight, holding the camera sideways. The reflected light was just really quite powerful. I actually thought it was warming up rapidly, since it felt so warm now. I then go to a different area later and found it was still quite cool out.

I did not spend much time doing these. Maybe 15 minutes I guess. I'll have to spend more time at it the next time around. I'm sure you can get some rather interesting ones.

Just a hair cool! This one had an outer vortex/sheath around the main one.

Another shot of the same one. Yeah, I really must get video of these. The motion is simply captivating and interesting.

In many like the above, that motion is not slow and peaceful. You can tell the motion is quite fast because on all these the definition of the vortex is never really clear. I'm hand holding these, and I believe many where 1/400th or so. Some of the ones up further on the page are close to showing the banding structure in the vortex. Most are blurred, simply because it is changing so damn fast inside them.