17:36 – soon after reaching the end of the ridge, the view of the cloud formation looking across to Half Tree Hollow and Ladder Hill. The flag pole at the top of Ladder Hill is visible.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

A CASE OF BAD WIND | Darrin Henry

If every cloud has a silver lining story just waiting to be told, then today the lenticular effect is quite literally ours. We were out on a mini-hike, in search of inspiration for our daily photo challenge project, when a lenticular cloud formation came to the rescue. Not that we knew what it was at the time.

I’m sure the island must have been blown a few inches north; it’s been so blustery today! Swelly seas and gale force winds; that’s us at the moment.

The blowy conditions I’m guessing was the reason for the huge, squiggly cloud that loitered over the South West corner of the island today. Impervious to the wind it hung there for nearly two hours, showing off in the changing sunset light.


Don’t Drop The Fish

It was certainly a big bonus on our mini-hike. We were inside all day working on different projects and (because of the wind) had to drag ourselves outdoors for the sake of a new 365 photo. Day 95 was calling.

We decided to hike along the Munden’s ridge top, one of our favourite scenic excursions, a place full of happy memories from the days when our dog, Jasper, was still with us.

A few minutes into the walk we watched in fascination at a fairy tern with a fish in its beak, attempting to fly up the valley, being pummelled by the wind. The poor bird was flapping away but incredibly it was being blown backwards by the powerful gusts. It did well to hang on to the fish!


Lenticular cloud over St Helena Island

17:29 – soon after reaching the end of the ridge, the view of the cloud formation looking across to Half Tree Hollow and Ladder Hill. The flag pole at the top of Ladder Hill is visible.
Lenticular cloud over St Helena Island.

The sea birds were being tossed around in the high winds as they flew inland. This red billed tropic bird (trophy bird) was managing better than many of the smaller birds.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

18:03 – The bright colours of day begin their transition to a sunset orange.
Clouds over St Helena Island.


Scribbling The Lenticular Effect

As we were pushed along the pathway ourselves, Sharon joked, at least we won’t get hit by any falling trees being where we were.

Off to our left, rising up above Half Tree Hollow a strange cloud formation was beginning to appear; like rapid pencil scribbles, a swirly shaped thing. It stood out against a clear blue sky. Weirdly, while the lower level clouds were moving swiftly along in the wind, the scribbled cotton ball was just sitting there.

By the time we reached the end of the mile-long ridge, overlooking James Bay, the cloud had stretched upwards into a taller column, seemingly hovering over Half Tree Hollow despite the strong winds.


Introducing The Cumuloticular (Lenticular Cloud)

As the daylight softened and transformed into a gorgeous Atlantic sunset we got caught up in the natural spectacle above us, taking picture after picture, unable to tear ourselves away.


18:07 – Light now changing rapidly as we frame one of the many cactus bushes that grow all along the top of Mundens Hill.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

Not exactly flattering (sorry Sharon) but a great example of how windy it was at the top of Mundens Hill, right near the cliff top.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

Down below us in James Bay, the MV Helena, St Helena’s new cargo ship on her first ever visit to the island.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

18:12 – Time to head home as it gets dark. A mile long hike ahead of us back to the car parked on Field Road.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

Lenticular cloud over St Helena Island

18:16 – Making our way back up Mundens Hill, looking back at the beautiful Atlantic sunset.
Clouds over St Helena Island.

18:21 – Half way along the Mundens ridge, looking back, the colours now turning pink after the sun has dipped out of sight.
Clouds over St Helena Island.


Finally, with darkness falling we hustled back up the ridge, street lamps already on in Jamestown below us on one side, and Rupert’s Valley on the other.

Driving home in near darkness we could still just make out the shape of the cloud and had to stop for one last photo from Button Up Corner, with the backdrop of High Knoll Fort. An ISO 4000 and aperture f2.8 setting was needed on the camera, it was that dark.

I’ve said it many times already – shooting this Project has done wonders for our photography in so many ways. This photo-a-day quest can occasionally be a pain but more times than not it’s full of these wonderful surprises.


18:56 – The cloud still lingering, photographed High Knoll Fort from Button Up Corner using high ISO and aperture.
Clouds over St Helena Island.


So what was that mysterious cloud? I’ve had a quick scoot online but can’t nail it down exactly. It seems to be a cross between a lenticular cloud and a cumulonimbus cloud. Someone will tell me soon enough, but for now I’ll name it a, Cumuloticular!


Update: for more great pictures of the lenticular effect on clouds, click here.


Hiking beneath a spectacular lenticular cloud, right on sunset.