Saturday, March 21, 2009

The First Four Are The Easiest

2471 posts ago, I started my blog on this day back in 2005. So unlike most of the blogs out there that don't seem to last more than a year or two, this one is four years old. I can remember the day I started it. I had gotten back from Sanibel Island the week before with a camera full of pictures that I didn't know what to do with. It took me a bit of doing, but I finally figured out how to share them with the world via a blog. I've come a long way since then. In that time I've shown you planes, trains and automobiles, lions, tigers and bears (Oh, My!), and let's see, all sorts of other things. I've been to New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Cleveland, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles (for about 20 hours) and umpteen cities here in Florida. (Where will I go next? You'll see...) I've seen more birds than you can shake a stick at, I think the only one I really still need to see in the wild is a cara cara. For a long time, I couldn't find any bald eagles in the wild, but I've seen three (no, four) in the past month, so I've got that under control. I've brought you doodles from over three hundred musty old albums, and I've shared the music from literally hundreds of full albums with you, albeit most of them during Christmas. I am pretty proud to be the only place I know of on the internet to bring you the For Hi-Fi Living series, released way back in 1957 and re-released by me 50 years later. Christmas has always been a big deal here, both in December and July. I slacked off this last year quite a bit, but in previous years I've posted more than 250 items between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's enough that I've been called Santa Claus on more than one occasion. I'm skipping over plenty of things, like lighthouses and license plates, artworks both big and small, miscellaneous animals both big and small, more sunsets and beaches than you can shake a another stick at, some alligators both real and plush, and who knows what else, it's been a long four years. (Wait, can't forget my works...the moon) Anyhow, I just wanted to make a little notice of my anniversary. Here's to the past four years, and to forty more!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Old Glory

While killing time yesterday, I shot some pictures of the flag that was in front of the snack bar in the little park I waited for the shuttle launch in. I was looking right into the sun through a long lens, just hoping that the wind didn't let up and the flag drop. That wouldn't have been good for my eye. But it didn't, so I got these neat shots of Old Glory, flapping in the breeze with some cool washed-out colors. I like 'em.

One More Bald Eagle

Hard to believe but I spotted one more rare bird while in Titusville for the shuttle launch. There were dozens of ospreys around while I was shooting, and I'd pretty much been ignoring them. But something caught my eye about one that just didn't look right, and sure enough, it turned out to be a bald eagle. He was pretty much out of range, but I still squeezed off a couple of blurry shots. Don't judge me too harshly on them, I was just happy to see a bald eagle.

What I didn't expect after spotting the eagle was to see an osprey start giving him a hard time. Twice he came after the eagle in mid-air, and twice the eagle did some incredible flying to show the osprey who was boss. It's a little tough to see in these photos, but that's the osprey on top and the eagle on bottom, flying upside down to go after the osprey with his talons. I kept hoping he'd fly back by, but I never saw him again after this pass.


While waiting for the shuttle launch, I wandered all over the place. You have to get there early to get a parking spot, then you're left with all kind of time to kill. So I wandered. One of the first things I found was a kingfisher. This is only the second one I've ever shot, so it's pretty special. I never did get very close to him, so I was lucky to get these halfway decent pictures.

More Discovery

Here are a few more pictures from the shuttle launch yesterday. I drove the three hours over there, and it took me over six hours to drive home, so I guess I need to get as much mileage as possible out of these pictures. The shot above shows the shuttle to the left and the two solid rocket boosters after separation on the left. The two SRBs are actually falling into the Atlantic Ocean at the point, but Shuttle Discovery is continuing to move off into space. The curvature of the Earth is what makes it look like it's moving downward. This was probably the longest I've ever watched the shuttle after the launch. I read later that it was visible for more than seven minutes, and was as far north at New Jersey before it winked out of sight.

And three more pictures of that awesome smoke trail. I'm afraid none of my pictures really do it justice. It was just incredible, the way it caught the light and became more and more distorted as the upper level winds twisted it into a pretzel.

Discovery Is Go

Perhaps you heard there was a shuttle launch yesterday. Space Shuttle Discovery blasted off at 7:43 PM on it's way to the International Space Station, and I was there. It was about 15 minutes after sunset, so it was still pretty light out. But the light from that solid rocket fuel made everything else in the picture seem dark as night. Someday I'll get good at taking these pictures. I suspect that'll be right around the time they end the shuttle program.

I was well-enough prepared this time that I was able to slap on a shorter lens soon after take-off. So you get to see something other than a long tongue of flame behind an invisible shuttle.

I mentioned that the launch took place just after sunset. Not long into flight, the smoke plume entered the area where the suns' rays were still in the orange sunset color. Past that, the full illumination of the sun turned the trail a brilliant white, so it was quite possibly the most colorful shuttle launch ever.

This detail of the smoke trail in the area where the most color was shows the beautiful colors that are usually reserved for sunsets in some island nation you only ever get to visit once in your life.