Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Red Sky At Night. A Photographers Delight. Female Company.

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
July just passed has been a very unsettled month across Scotland with rain, unusually strong winds,  grey overcast skies, occasional thunderstorms and unpredictable daytime conditions. To make up for that however some of the evenings have been amazing with spectacular light conditions, weird sunsets and clouds forming into incredible shapes. With several weekends in a row being a washout of wind and rain I've been joining a friend some evenings, as she's always out anyway at dusk walking her dog before some TV catch up after dark, usually crime dramas. She's also a big computer game fan and I've her to thank for introducing me to that world.

So... for half a dozen nights throughout July I've enjoyed her company outdoors and we go to various small hills on our side of the City of Glasgow to catch the light show. It's only a ten minute drive in the car to reach them and it's always worthwhile to meet up as she mentioned recently she was bored with her usual haunts dog-walking of an evening.
  (Looks like a duck- floats like a duck... must be a duck.... cloud.)
I've also acquired a small handy pocket book " How to influence the weather." and I've been studying it intensely over the past few months. It came into my possession by mysterious means as I was exploring a part of the city out east I was unfamiliar with and stumbled on a quiet back street with this strange looking shop halfway down it.
 "Snowflakes, rainbows, clouds and storms." was printed over the dark doorway so I wandered in.
Behind the counter a tiny chap with very pointed teeth smiled a welcome. He was under five feet tall and only his head and shoulders reached above the collection of items on the counter top.
"Welcome friend." He said. "Is it hydroponics you are after?"
"No." says I " I've been searching for thin sheets of coloured plastic to put in front of my camera to change the light. I remember seeing them years ago for school projects. They are very thin square sheets and come in yellow, red, blue, orange... all different tints."
"Like tinted filters? says he, catching on.
"Yes, exactly!" says I "Only a tenth of the price of normal camera equipment, which probably won't fit my camera anyway."
He went into the back shop which was like a tropical jungle in appearance, full of strange looking exotic plants, tree frog noises coming out a speaker, fertilizer grow bags, plastic tanks and specialized water sprinklers. Must be for people that keep reptiles, fish or amphibians at home in tanks I found myself thinking.
" Do you sell lizards or monkeys? " I inquired hopefully as I like little lizards.... and monkeys.
"No. But I have a small collection of books that may interest you." he offered, guiding me over to a modest bookcase in one corner...... which is how I ended up with  'How to influence the weather'... and also acquired several tinted thin squares of different coloured material.

Happy with my purchase I flashed a smile of my own as I handed over some cash and he was pleased to see I'd filed my teeth down to sharp points as well. I did this during my teenage years to attract girls. It didn't really seem to work back then though........ except with the darker variety of goths.
I went back a few weeks later to see what else was on offer but the shop had disappeared and was no longer there. Very strange indeed.
Anyway, back on the hilltops above the city with my friend and her peeing little pooch I presented my book for her inspection. Let's call her Tink... or Belle... take your pick.
"What's this?" she asked, flicking through the pages.
"It tells you how to influence the weather patterns." I explained, grabbing it back. It's full of magic symbols, astral designs, incantations, tricks and chants to help improve the surrounding conditions."

"We could certainly do with that." says she. "What do you think Snapper? " Snapper being her dog.
A tail wag and a bark might have been either agreement or something else. It's not that easy to tell with dogs.
"Let's try cloud shapes first." I suggested. " What do you fancy?"
"How about a nice wee bear to start with ?" She waited expectantly on the hillside, shooing a few evening flies away from her face with her hands. "Go on, impress me."
"Ah, that's page number 22 that is. The classic Teddy Bear cloud." I flicked to the appropriate design blueprint and began mumbling a chant under my breath.
"How's that?" I inquired a few seconds later.
"Hey! That's not bad. Look Snapper.....A wee bear just like you. I'm impressed." She congratulated me with an exaggerated pat on the back. The dog looked up but not having advanced facial recognition skills that most humans possess didn't appear to see anything unusual in the clouds.
"This book is supposed to have been written by former members of the Magic Circle." I informed her, reading the inner sleeve notes but not letting her see it. "It spills the beans completely on many of their top secrets."
I proceeded to chant again- very softly to myself and pictured the next image in my head.
"What exactly is it you're mumbling?" She asked, being her usual noisy self, trying to see the page for cloud bear shapes I was reading from.
"It's a magic chant." I told her. "only for skilled practitioners of the art to know and learn." I started mumbling again softly, building up the tempo under my breath.
She started listening hard. "Please tell me that's not  'izzy wizzy let's get bizzy?' " she finally asked, voice triumphant yet disappointed at solving a minor puzzle in such a rubbish way.
"Don't be daft." I put the book away in my pocket hastily. " That's just for children. This is serious stuff we are dealing with here."
She crossed her arms in satisfaction. "It is... isn't it? I'm right!"

"Aw, you've gone and ruined it now. It's got six legs!" I groaned, sulking as the shape appeared above our heads. " A real bear never has six legs. You've distorted the spell with your extra line."
"It's still a bear." She soothed. "Try another one. I'll shut up." A glance down at the dog. "What a drama queen, isn't he Snapper?"
"Behold! Polar bear in the arctic climbing out onto an ice flow!" I declared after ten minutes of mumbling intensity and thought projection as per the instructions. " How's that for genuine magic!"
She'd been listening very closely right beside me, despite pushing her away several times to keep her distance.
"That one was just 'Hey Presto' muttered over and over again wasn't it? You've wasted your money there alright. Seen you coming pal."
"No.They did not. Look, it obviously works, doesn't it? "
She yawned. "I.m bored now. Try something else."
"You young folk are really hard to please." I complained bitterly. "Joni Mitchell never had it this good in her life staring up at the sky and she wrote a famous song about cloud formations."
"Who? "
A small sigh.  "Sixties singer/ songwriter. Before your time. I keep forgetting."
She brightened up.
"That comes with the birth certificate living fossil. Eat loads of blueberries. Dementia super-fruit they are. You can sprinkle them over your cornflakes." 

"Cartoon character? Any guesses which one?" I asked, ignoring her.
It was her turn to sigh. "Nope. Walt Disney is soo old school now anyway."
It's bloody Dumbo you bimbo! Surely you must see it? The long elephant trunk?
" I know who Dumbo is. Where's the big flapping ears then?
I stared at her in exasperation.
Back to the book for other ideas. "How about a dog then? "
"Yeah." She conceded. "That's not bad but let's just put the book away and watch the sun setting without the wand."
So we did.
Clouds swirling above Drumchapel. Glasgow.
Sunset tinting the upper levels with orange.
The Kingdom.
Drifting lumps of shimmering matter.
Trouble brewing above on a different outing. The prelude to a lightning storm we soon discovered.
Clouds changing shape before thunder and sheet lightning caught us on a hillside. Luckily, there was thick woodland below to shelter in and a handy concrete overhang. A joy to watch natural fireworks dancing across the sky, safe and dry.

Another obvious sign of changing weather before the deluge to come.

The beast above.
Sunset song after storm.

Keeping with the arty theme here's one of the best things I've seen on You Tube. Stunning, bizarre, and gets better as it unfolds.


Linda W. said...

Wonderful photos of the cloud formations! I guess that's one good thing about having stormy weather is you get great clouds.

Kay G. said...

Amazing photos of clouds, and I love the descriptions of each one!
Luke Howard is one man who thought up the name for the clouds, and I love that since it sounds like LOOK HIGHWARD...well, it does a bit anyway, and little things like that amuse me.

blueskyscotland said...

Thanks Linda W,
I suppose all the rain keeps it looking green but we don't really have a summer in this country most years- just loads of weather fronts coming in off the Atlantic Ocean driven by the jet stream. 60 mile an hour gusts predicted over the mountains this Sunday and it fell below freezing last week over the Cairngorms :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
When I'm out on bike trips touring flat parts of Scotland the skies really come into their own with incredible cloud formations. Great to watch a lightening storm break over the city from the surrounding hills as well, sitting in sunshine while it pours with rain 10 miles away over the urban sprawl.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Stunning photos and a first-class piece of writing - I enjoyed that immensely! I can see more along the same theme - can't wait for Chapter Two. There will be a Chapter Two, won't there?

Carol said...

Great photos anyway - not sure about the magic. Only in Glasgow can a dog be called 'Snapper' surely? ;-)

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Mike,
Yep, Part Two is next week as I also purchased another pocket book by the same Magic Circle members.
Remembered a few more films that I would list as modern classics.
Open Range, Capote,The Imitation Game, Shutter Island, The Straight Story, L.A. Confidential,The re-make of True Grit, Oh brother, Where Art Thou?, The Girl From Paris(French film about a city girl who ends up in the mountains with goats) are all retro feel old school.
Winterbone, Pan's Labyrinth, Now is Good, The Lovely Bones, are also worth catching. Depends on personal taste though, as always.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Magic? How many other blogs have you seen with so many recognizable cloud animals in one post- all of them real but some taken with tinted sheets held up as described over the course of one month. "Belle" and I put almost 25 hours into capturing them I'll have you know.
"Snapper" is not the dog's real name obviously as that is equally distinctive and might give her owners identity away. If I can be bothered I usually put an underlying theme through my posts, working in various elements as 'Homage' to past films, books, or cultural icons. I believe it's called creative writing.
Yours...Harry Lime.
(i.e. We prefer to stay in the shadows, a suitable environment for people with pointed teeth :o)
Maybe I should just post songs that everyone has already heard before, cat videos, or babies smiling as they always seem to be popular but by nature I choose a path less travelled.
"The Cat Who Walks Alone." ( And that's lifted from something else as well)

Ian Johnston said...

Some cracking skyscapes here Bob, and the narrative really adds to this post - love it!


blueskyscotland said...

Hi Ian,
Just as well it wasn't the last few days for your trip to the Cairngorms. Highest winds ever recorded up there for August at 115 miles an hour and driving snow flurries. Summer in Scotland is here at last.

Ian Johnston said...

Aye, it's certainly true that we don't have a climate....just weather! Seriously though, would we change that changeability?


blueskyscotland said...

True enough Ian.
Hot countries are too warm in summer, cold countries too cold in winter. I think the UK has an ideal climate as, if you wish, like me, you can easily arrange it to any conditions you prefer. I don't like hill-walking in the rain but it's not hard to avoid bad weather by looking at the forecast before you go. Seven years every weekend in sunshine (more or less- a handful where the jacket got wet but dry person still inside) and I just take sunny days as normal now although I do like being out in the rain during lightning storms or in a forest and enjoy being down the coast in high winds and big crashing seas. Getting a full revolving kaleidoscope of different weather conditions in quick succession off the Atlantic you can just pick and mix whatever combination you enjoy.... as you already know yourself :o)

kevan hubbard said...

Snapper isn't unique to Glasgow! When I was a boy in Hartlepool, England, some neighbours had a dog named that,it lived up to it's name and jumped through a front room bay window.... Shut at the time!

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Kevan,
Her dog's real name is so distinctive I had to make snapper up as folk might guess her identity otherwise. Amazed to learn there's a real snapper about.