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Cocoa, Florida, lightning by Chris Kridler
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My simple setup for shooting the timelapse video includes an LED work light and a GoPro on a tripod.

Almost every year, I try to capture the blossoming of night-blooming cereus flowers in a timelapse video. These cactus vines produce dinner-plate-size flowers in late spring where I live — central Florida — and each flower blooms just once. The aromatic flower begins to open at sunset and closes at dawn.

Some nights, several flowers bloom at once, making a spectacular display. The cactus vine grows up one of our palm trees, and I’m also trying to get it started on our oak after seeing pictures of an oak in Orlando draped with the giant flowers.

For the timelapse this year, I used a GoPro Hero 8 in timelapse mode. I lit the flowers with a simple LED worklight.

Night-blooming cereus produce flowers the size of dinner plates.

The vines can be covered in blooms, but each flower pops just once.

I really don’t love chasing storms traveling at highway speeds, especially when they’re packed with hail. I’m hail-avoidant on a good day, thanks to previous experiences with being pummeled by hail, and with a new car? Well, perhaps I’m even more cautious.

So when Alethea Kontis and I traveled south of Limon, Colorado, on May 23, 2021, to meet a rotating storm hurtling north, we had to make a decision. And personally, I didn’t want to try to keep up while playing dodgeball with what was quickly becoming a line of hail-filled storms. Some folks saw tornadoes who pursued it. Some didn’t. And some took a hail bath while they were chasing it.

A few crawlers lit up the night.

We opted to try to catch storms forecast to form farther east, but those storms were never that vigorous or organized in spite of screaming-fast surface winds. Still, we saw a funnel at the end of the original line, and I wondered if there was any circulation on the ground.

The day was redeemed by a fantastic lightning show at Burlington, Colorado. The timelapse in the video is really nifty.

Roll over a photo to see its caption, or click on an image to start a slide show of larger pictures.

We shot some photos looking toward Courthouse and Jail Rock in western Nebraska.

May 21 is what you’d probably call a storm-chasing bust, or as I jokingly call it, a “wet bust,” as we did see storms — just nothing spectacular.

We started and ended the day in Sidney, Nebraska, and any storms that formed were screaming north at highway speeds. It was almost impossible to keep up with them. Perhaps the only highlight was seeing some of the pretty rock formations of western Nebraska silhouetted against the storm-tempered light.

I do have a few photos from the day. Roll over one to see its caption, or click on one to see a slide show of larger images.

 

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