Thunderstorms before Sunset

In Upper Bavaria weather changed Sunday, June 28. Along the Allgäu Mountains, intense rainfall began in the afternoon. Thunderstorms with hail occurred in the south-east of Bavaria. The hailstorm pilots near Chiemsee started four times theses days. Clouds and rain created a magical atmosphere around Weissensee not far from the famous Neuschwanstein castle.

Three days later an impressing thunderstorm happened in the early evening hours in South-Bavaria. It was before sunset. Thus there were interesting effects with a colored sky. There were some intense local rainshowers and the weather lasted for more days.

On July 2 a supercell-storm devastated an area around Murnau, which is not far from Garmisch Partenkirchen. Witnesses reported that there was both hail and a flashflood rain at the same time. They could not remember a similar phenomenon happened before. Within 15 minutes streets were flooded and cows had to be rescued from a farm.

Later the week the weather calmed down. This kind of weather is very typical for the season in Bavaria. There is always a change between warm summer days and rain except the last years when a drought happened. Most of the severe storms in Germany happen in July. In 1984 an unparalleled hailstorm led to incredible destruction in Bavaria’s capital Munich.

Intense supercell-storms, hail and flash floods can, however, occur any time between June and September. In 2019 a hailstorm led to a lot of destruction in the Northern-Ammersee region. In some years there were storms with flooding in May. Storms happen also in August, usually in September heavy thunderstorms are not so often because the days are getting shorter. There is less energy from the sunlight to generate these type of storms however there are weather patterns which could also lead to strong storms in October. In September 2017 lightning hit the Munich Octoberfest.

Thunderstorms with devastating hail happen more often in the south-east of Upper Bavaria rather than in the Allgäu. Usually, the storms develop over the hills and mountains in the West and move to the East. A squadron of Hailstorm pilots, “Hagelflieger” from Vogtareuth protects the area around lake Chiemsee efficiently and gather important scientific information.

Landscape photography in spring: Many shades of green

The end of winter and the beginning of spring is always a special time. Nature awakes. It’s a great time for photographers too. After a long time where we see mostly brown and grey in the landscape, there is an explosion of green and yellow. However, you have to act fast to capture the many shades of green.

The beginning of spring is not the same every year. Sometimes it happens earlier but in some years when it’s cold and there is still snow spring comes late. Usually, you see the first plants already in February on the Northern Hemisphere: Snowdrop plants and later on cowslips appear even there is still snow. The Yellow forsythia is a herald of spring. But it’s still a long way. However often in April, everything happens very fast. Meadows become green and yellow again. In some areas, the Meadows turn into an intense yellow when the dandelion is blooming.

The motives are easy to capture. You don’t need expensive gear. However, it is great if you have a camera which shoots in raw mode. There are much more opportunities to play around with the shades of green later in post-production.

The different phases of the spring season

The most interesting part happens when the trees are sprouting. Only for a short time, we see what is called the “fresh green” in nature. It’s the time and weeks after spring awakening. Later in May, we see mostly a darker green in gardens and forests. The foliage doesn’t show so many different shades of green then. Thus, landscape photographers have to be quick and be ready when the right moment comes.

Cowlips are among the plants which appear early in spring.
Fruit tree blossom in April. The most trees are still without leaves.
The nights are still cold. It looks like spring is still far away but within days there will be graduated shades of radiant yeallow and green. Spring awakening is already in full progress.

In the Northern Hemisphere the growing season begins in the South as Italy or Greece and arrives later in Northern countries. Farmers know a lot about the dynamics in nature and there are scientific parameters too. The most important parameter is the grassland temperature sum (GTM). The sum is based on an equation. If the sum is 200 Celsius the farm work begins.

If you want to learn about the beginning of the growing season check with your local weather services website. There is often information about the progress of spring there. If you are used to read weather data there are also specialized weather websites for farmers etc, for example https://www.agweb.com/weather in the US.

Weather, of course, plays a crucial role. You will see fast changes in nature after a period of rain in the spring. These are often the best moments to shoot pictures.

Sunlight is good to capture the many shades of green in Spring. However, a rainy day can be very interesting too since there are a lot of different moods. Morning time and the time before sunset is often the best time for shooting pictures of blooming trees.

The graduated shades of radiant green

Pictures of fresh green mostly don’t need a lot of post-production. However, some filters and development can help to create stronger differences between the shades of green.

End of April: Often the best time to capture the graduated shades of green. Use the luminance panel in photoshop or lightroom to add details to the many shades of green. Be careful with saturation because the colours are already very strong.
Colors of foliage change very quickly in spring. The “fresh green” lasts only for a short ime.

One week later there is a different shade of green
It’t the first days when trees are spouting you see these radiant colors.
Birch trees have very distinct colors.
A rainy day can very interesting for landscape photography
First Week Of May: Colors are darker now. It still looks great but its already a completely different mood.

Where to shoot

It’s good to know where you can find the “many shades of green” in Spring. The best thing is to have a plan where to go long before the season begins. Generally, you might want to look for a forest with a huge variety of trees, a mixed forest. If you don’t have nature reserves or these type of forest around you can do also great pictures in landscape gardens, English-style. Mountain forests with many fir trees can also be interesting but there is, of course, less variety of colours there. Look also for meadows which are very natural and where there is a variety of flowers and plants. The pictures above were taken in Germany, Upper Bavaria between the river Lech and the lake Ammersee.

Peter Engelmann, May 8, 2020

https://stormypictures.de/peter-engelmann/

Magnificient Skies And Brilliant Colors Like Never Before

April 6, 2020

The Corona crisis is an unparalleled situation and there is no bright side to this. It would have been wonderful if we could have made observations about changes in the atmosphere, weather and perhaps climate change under different circumstances. Nevertheless, it appears there is a unique chance for a potentially positive change in the future. For some days we see for the time how a sky would look like with little or no pollution in the air.

When the crisis reached Europe and the rest of the world air traffic declined. In Germany, there was a lockdown after middle of march. There are fewer planes operating. We now see an immediate effect: In Middle Europe, there was a high-pressure weather pattern in March and is still lasting in April. The air became clear and cold with some dust in the morning. However, there was a new quality in the atmosphere.

Over the last years there was a lot of pollution in the atmosphere due to increasing air traffic. The contrails never disappeared. The sky always looked dirty. It looked liked as the atmosphere couldn’t take any more. It was too much pollution. The result was often a strange sky with unusual clouds which presumably inspired the “Chemtrail Conspiracy theory”.

Now we have a chance to see how a sky without pollution and air-plane traffic looks like. It is not only like looking through a window which was cleaned up after a long time. We see different colors. There is some otherworldliness too it. It is like entering a different realm, a world remembered from childhood days for the elder generation.

The absence of pollution and air traffic doesn’t only mean clear skies and great colors. It looks like a healthier world and might have also effects for weather and climate. Hopefully there is a chance for scientists to do research even the circumstances appear difficult.

Air traffic created an artificial cloud layer on many days. Thus, there was less cooling in the night. The pollution added to global warming. We will see how weather patterns develop if there is little or now pollution in the upper atmosphere.

There is another interesting question: We don’t know very much about cloud development and how the increased air traffic has changed the development of clouds as rain clouds. Over the last years climate change led to many droughts. Scientists say this is mostly because of the CO2 emission but perhaps there are other factors. If we see more clouds now like we had a long time ago it could mean that air traffic had a much bigger impact than previously assumed.

Sky In Upper Bavaria before “Shutdown” with residue of airplane exhaust
Another Image with airplane residue near Mitenwald

Sky after lockdown end of March after shower
Sunset April 1, 2020
The next day.
April 5, 2020, Sunday Afternoon

A miracle of Nature: Pink Sandstone in the Northern Vosges

Bizarrely shaped sandstone cliffs illuminated by the sun in pink and orange: This is something which you usually expect in the US in national parks in Arizona or Colorado. However, in the middle of Europe located on the Franco-German border, there is a unique landscape with low mountain range forests, rivers, 100 castles and impressive sandstone cliffs. A landscape which was formed by wind and weather and 200 million years old: The UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Palatinate Forest (Pfälzerwald) and Northern Vosges.

weathered sandstone, chateau du Falkenstein

The Northern Vosges area is located west of the Rhine in northeastern France. It is not the same as the Vosges mountains or the Haute Vosges. It is the foothills just north of them in Alsace. The regional nature park of the Northern Vosges exists since 1976. It is an extraordinary region with an incredible variety of wildlife. 65% of the area is covered by forest.

A big attraction is the castles which are often located on view-points. These are hills where you have an impressing look and here you often find this intense red-brown coloured sandstone in the French Vosges. It is a mid-grained and pebble bound sandstone which was also important for many buildings as chateaus and cathedrals. The material was formed by wind and weather. The interesting thing is that it looks always different depending on the sun and the conditions of light. It makes a great motive for any photographer. It is also of great interest for anybody interested in geology and history of the Earth. The park was winner 2009 of the Eden competition.

Chateau du Falkenstein: Medieval heritage and a great viewpoint

The chateau du Falkenstein is a great location: It is a ruined castle on top of a hill in the commune of Philippsborg in the Mosélle department. After a walk of 20 minutes from the parking spot, there is great view, the ruins of a once huge medieval castle and very impressing sandstone formations.

The sandstone was indeed part of the castle: The builders carved some caves and rooms in the sandstone rock. The castle was built in 1127 and destroyed in the Thirty Year’s War. However, there is still a lot to see there.

A room carved in the sandstone riff




In the Northern Vosges, there is also a place they call “Little Colorado”: This is the Altschloßfelsen in Poppeviller in the Pays de Bitche, a long sandstone Riff. The German pendant of the Northern Vosges is the “Dahner Felsenland” in the Rhineland Palatinate. Tourists visiting France and this region can get information in the “Maison du Parc” in Little Pierre, a cosy village with an impressing chateau. Tourism is important here: Both the communities and other institutions like the Club Vosgien did a lot of work to inform and guide interested visitors:

Train stops are in Sarrebourg and Saverne (TGV Paris-Strasbourg). Important centres are Bitche and Sarreguemines. The Northern Vosges area is also not far from Saarbrücken. The area is great for hiking and offers long-distance trails. It is also a popular region for cycling.

The climate is semi-continental with dry and hot summers and cold winters with a lot of snow. Like many other areas, the region suffered from the heatwaves and drought 2018 and 2019.