Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lenticular cloud over Settle

click photo to enlarge
On a few recent days I swapped the warm, dry flatness of Lincolnshire for the colder, wetter Craven uplands of the place I was raised - Settle in North Yorkshire. And, on a couple of walks with the camera I snapped some of the sights that this area, where Carboniferous Limestone meets Millstone Grit, can offer. I shot a lot of landscapes. However, most of my better images were of other things.

Today's photograph is, I suppose, a landscape, but one with a difference. Take away the lenticular cloud and the shot doesn't offer a great deal. It shows the upland lane that connects Settle with Long Preston, a popular route that was used before the Keighley to Kendal turnpike was created, but which is now a rough track through woods, moorland and pasture. Much of the surface of the old road is composed of quartz sand, the result of attrition by wheels, hooves and boots on the underlying Millstone Grit. In the distance in the photograph is the limestone of Giggleswick Scars, and beyond, the summit of Ingleborough. However, it wasn't the foreground and distant panorama that caused me to take the shot, but rather, the cloud, one of three or four of this type in the sky at that time.

Lenticular clouds have always attracted the gaze of mankind. In recent times they have been called "flying saucer clouds" but "clouds of heaven" is an older name. Wikipedia describes their formation thus: "Where stable moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the downwind side. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops to the dew point, moisture in the air may condense to form lenticular clouds. As the moist air moves back down into the trough of the wave, the cloud may evaporate back into vapor." In the right conditions a string of them can form. On the day I saw this one the individuals were well separated.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 32mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/500
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On