One of my pastimes is exploring back-country gravel roads, and my favorite gravel road destination is the Flint Hills region of east-central Kansas.
I go there for views like this, where wildflowers stretch from horizon to horizon and the only sound is the wind through the grass. This landscape once covered the center of North America, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, but the only place you can see it today is the Flint Hills.
I like the contrast between blue sky and emerald grasses, so I try to time my trips to coincide with fair weather. Sometimes though the weather doesn't cooperate. Below is a series of photographs taken one stormy morning a couple years ago. Each can be viewed in larger format by clicking on it.
Though it was a warm day it was cloudy and threatening rain by the time I got off the highway and onto the back roads. Overcast skies can sometimes make photography a waste of time, but on occasion they actually intensify the colors.
Horses in a flowery pasture.
About the time I turned onto this westbound road the sky started getting weird.
There was thunder and lightning off to the north.
To the northwest an odd, blue-edged line of clouds rolled over the horizon.
The strange formation moved rapidly south; here it's a mile or so away.
Just as the squall line crossed the road to my west a strong wind kicked up and the temperature began falling rapidly.
It was moving fast.
I'd never seen a cloud this color before.
The wind, gusting to sixty miles an hour or more by now, made it difficult to hold my camera steady.
As the blue cloud rolled south the landscape ahead of it took on a reddish glow. I don't know why.
Looking due south as the light goes away.
Blackness. The wind was shrieking and lightning was striking to the north, east and west, and as you can see in this shot my camera had raindrops on the lens. Time to go.
Veils of rain.
Road becomes stream.
The rain was heavy but it didn't last long. Here, clouds begin lifting over a flooded field.
An upland plover seems pleased the storm is over.
Freshly showered echinacea.
These white primrose seem lit from within.
It was an interesting morning. Rain or shine, clear skies or stormy, there are always more back roads to explore.
Note: I previously posted some of these photographs in 2009 under the title Blue Cloud Sequence. That post has since been deleted. All images ©2011 by Nanatehay.