Sunday photoblogging: clouds

by Eszter Hargittai on September 3, 2017

Clouds over LA As of this past week, I’ve posted over 500 photos in my “a sky photo a day” project. I love taking a moment each day to look up and see what patterns, or lack thereof, surround my area.

This was the January 22, 2017 shot. I was at the Getty in Los Angeles when this curious cloud formation appeared. I have more photos of the neighboring sky on Flickr if you’d like to explore. Does anyone have any idea what would result in this? I was so intrigued.



Peter 09.03.17 at 1:11 pm


Bill Edmundson 09.03.17 at 1:14 pm

Eszter, That’s what’s called a fallstreak or “hole-punch” cloud. Check out the Cloud Appreciation Society website for details:


Painedumonde 09.03.17 at 1:26 pm

It seems the garrisoned Imperial Star Destroyer settled a bit shallow on its surveillance pass. Ignore. All is normal. All is well.


Fred W. Bacon 09.03.17 at 1:32 pm

It’s called a hole punch cloud or fallstreak hole. They are a supercool phenomenon both literally and figuratively.


Ben Alpers 09.03.17 at 2:43 pm

Had you just purchase an odd ring in the Getty gift shop that has strangely dominated your personality ever since?


Yan 09.03.17 at 2:44 pm

This is a great idea for a photo project. I can’t help thinking of a favorite piece from Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen:

My dear little mad beloved was serving my dinner, and I was looking out of the open dining room window contemplating those moving architectural marvels that God constructs out of mist, edifices of the impalpable. And as I looked I was saying to myself: “All those phantasmagoria are almost as beautiful as my beloved’s beautiful eyes, as the green eyes of my mad monstrous little beloved.” All of a sudden I felt a terrible blow of a fist on my back and heard a husky and charming voice, an hysterical voice, a hoarse brandy voice, the voice of my dear little beloved, saying: “Aren’t you ever going to eat your soup, you damned bastard of a cloud-monger?”


John Carney 09.03.17 at 3:15 pm

Looks like a fallstreak hole –


Kevin Drum 09.03.17 at 3:17 pm

Yeah, that happens whenever the aliens visit. It’s no big deal here in LA.


Eszter Hargittai 09.03.17 at 3:26 pm

Thanks for solving the mystery for me, so interesting! And Bill, what a great Web site that is.

If anyone looking at that picture didn’t think aliens at least for a split second, your imagination needs to broaden. ;-) Fun comments, thanks!

PS. The boring black photos in the Instagram feed are days when I forgot to take a pic when the sun was up and had to resort to night shots.


JRLRC 09.03.17 at 4:12 pm


Alan White 09.04.17 at 12:46 am

That’s a fantastic catch–I’m jealous.


Joshua W. Burton 09.04.17 at 7:31 pm

Thank you! I caught some photos of one of these in rural Virginia in November 2004, and pretty quickly figured out what must be happening thermodynamically. But I never found the right search string to confirm my guess, and I never got any further analysis beyond my hand-wave by shopping my pix around to physicists and pilots, which I did for years. Fallstreak hole it is: lovely!


David Y. 09.04.17 at 11:01 pm

Pretty sure it’s the result of the Galactica jumping in the atmosphere.



AnthonyB 09.05.17 at 2:37 pm

My mother was a painter, mostly of landscapes. I once asked her if the shapes of clouds she painted was based on any technical knowledge, as figure drawing is based on at least rudimentary knowledge of anatomy. Her answer was, “of course not” (and not all of her paintings were of actual places at specific times). I suspect there are implausible skies in a lot of artwork, mixing cloud types that cannot co-exist etc.


Addison 09.06.17 at 12:49 am

What a great catch!


Luke 09.06.17 at 3:28 pm

Knausgard on clouds —
They hung over the town, muted red, dark-pink, surrounded by every conceivable nuance of gray. The setting was wild and beautiful. Actually everyone should be in the streets, I thought, cars should be stopping, doors should be opened and drivers and passengers emerging with heads raised and eyes sparkling with curiosity and a craving for beauty, for what was it that was going on above our heads? However, a few glances at most were cast upward, perhaps followed by isolated comments about how beautiful the evening was, for sights like this were not exceptional, on the contrary, hardly a day passed without the sky being filled with fantastic cloud formations, each and every one illuminated in unique, never-to-be-repeated ways, and since what you see every day is what you never see, we lived our lives under the constantly changing sky without sparing it a glance or a thought.

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