A Study in Gray

   Here are the shreds of a cloud shortly after one of yesterday's downbursts. The shreds, technically called, pannus, are the spent undersides of a rain cloud--either nimbostratus or cumulonimbus. The sky was full of them yesterday. They are not particularly photogenic clouds, but worth documenting to show that the sky is never quite a dull and gray as everyone thinks. Except when it is (below).
   My assignment yesterday was to finish writing about my Swim in Stratus (an earlier blog) and to photograph a sky that was "Unmitigated Gray." I accomplished both. The sky is rarely this solid gray, but yesterday, just after sunset, it was.
     And because I managed to download the user's guide to my dinky Canon Digital Elph camera, I figured out how to set the camera for long exposures. Here are photographs I took last night around 9:30 from my front yard. Still lots of fine-tuning to do to capture the clouds and freeze their flight across the sky. Eventually I will get that perfect combination of shutter speed and ISO setting to capture the nighttime clouds. 
 In the photo above, the blurry clouds in the upper right are lower stratus clouds that were moving quite quickly--more quickly that the higher levels of non-blurry stratus.
   This photo captures some of the pink light from Olympia (probably the highschool stadium lights) in the West. Or maybe it's the aurora borealis!  Wishful thinking at this latitude.
   This exposure captured some of the starts in the northeast portion of the sky. I tried to lighten up the photo a bit, but the next lighter setting made it look like a bad daytime picture. I'll keep working on it.
   And I thought the marbled murrelet made for exhausting research! At least they hunker down after between dusk and dawn. The clouds do not. They are a 'round the clock spectacle. I knew this, but usually go outside at night to look at the stars or moon. It seems our skies often clear late in the day or at night--often when I have come in for the day. I am thinking cloud-watching at night will make the long winter nights pass by quickly. Perhaps too quickly.