Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Green Flash

I want you to look really close at the picture above. I snapped this last year on Memorial Day, then forgot to post it. It's the sun setting, just moments before it sinks below the horizon. It's that little spot just to the left of center. It should be orange, but if you look closely, it's not. Here, let me blow it up for you.

Here's a way-zoomed in view of the picture above, way bigger than I should blow it up, but I want you to see what's there. The sunset has actually turned green. It's called a green flash, and it's a rare by-product of some interesting atmospheric phenomena. Some people claim to see it all the time, some folks claim it doesn't exist, but here's the photographic proof that I shot with my own camera.  Note how the image of the sun seems to hover above the waters' surface, not actually touching it.  That has something to do with a temperature inversion near the surface of the water.  It's causing an optical illusion, channeling the light in odd ways, and scattering all the yellow, orange and red light, leaving only the green.

This is a detail from the next frame I shot, showing it's still green, only there's less of it.

The frame after that, still green, but nearly gone. There was nothing at all in the following frame.  These photos all show a timestamp within one second of each other, and my camera can take about 8 frames per second, so I suspect this series of pictures runs less than a second.  I don't recall if I had it on high-speed capture or regular.  I usually leave it on regular because it gets touchy on high-speed and I end up with a dozen picture of the same thing.

And this is the frame that precedes all of them, before the sun reached that critical spot where all but the green colored light is scattered into the atmosphere and lost. If I were just throwing a green filter on it, then this shot would be green, too.  For the technical minded, I shot these handheld with a 7D and a 400mm lens (626mm it says, with the EF-S sensor).  Whenever I've been at the beach hoping to catch a green flash with tripod and all, it never happens...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Little Black Squirrel

I don't know why I find black squirrels to be so fascinating. I guess it's because the ones we have in Florida are all grey, although I think they have red ones further up the peninsula. I shot this guy in DC, same as this other one I showed you, and I've tried to take their picture when I've seen them in Ohio, but never gotten a good shot. Isn't he cute? I just want to throw acorns at him. According to Wikipedia, black squirrels were introduced to DC at the very beginning of the 20th century.  Who knows if that's true or not, but it's an interesting story.  If you spot a black squirrel in an odd place, you can add it to the map here.

Make War, Not Love

Here's another site from the river cruise of DC last April. This time it's the National War College, located on Ft. McNair along the Washington Canal. I guess you're not really looking at the college, you're looking at Roosevelt Hall, which houses the college. You can see the US Capitol to the left of the building, but it's really far away. The telephoto lens makes it look a lot closer than it really is, plus it sits on a bit of a hill (yes, there really is a Capitol hill), so it tends to tower over everything for miles around. If you hope to have a long and fruitful career in the military, you'll probably wind up here for a while.

RMS Titanic

Did you know that Washington, DC, has a memorial to the men who died on board the Titanic? I didn't either, but if you spend enough time there, you'll find out that DC has a monument to everything and everybody. I spotted this monument from a boat while taking a cruise down the Washington Canal and the Potomac River last year when I visited for the Cherry Blossom Festival. I was thinking about that today, and remembered that I had thousands of pictures I never shared after my trip. In the springtime, there's something to do and photos to shoot almost each and every day, so I don't get them posted in a very timely manner. I think I only posted pictures from my first day or two in DC, then totally skipped out on the last day or two. And that was when I took this cruise up and down the channel and the river, where I spotted this monument on the shore. I learned that it used to be much closer to town, but was moved in the sixties to make way for The Kennedy Center. That's progress, I guess. Keep in mind that this sculpture was designed and built in the late twenties, then dedicated in the early thirties, so it greatly predates a certain scene in a certain movie you may have seen...

Monday, January 03, 2011

Ladybug, Ladybug

Back on New Year's Eve, when we celebrated Christmas this year, I broke out the new Macro lens and tried to shoot some ladybugs as they ran around on the hand of one of my nieces. I need lots of practice shooting with the limited focus range of this lens. Maybe I need to practice on dead bugs instead of ones that are trying to run away...

Ibis Aloft

I got a couple of semi-decent shots of some glossy ibis coming in for a landing back on New Year's Eve. A farmer down the road from Mom and Dad's house had put out some bread for his cows, and these guys were coming in to try and grab some treats. They kept circling and I kept shooting, trying to catch the flashes of iridescence as they got into just the right angle. The camera was also having trouble keeping them in focus, so most of my shots showed blurry birds and focused trees, but these two came out OK. I need to do a better job of looking to see what my settings are before I try to shoot something like this. I'm sure a faster shutter speed and a different focusing algorithm would have yielded much better shots. I'm never going to get on the cover of National Geographic at this rate.

Look, Up In The Sky

Let me see. Over the years here at the blog I've brought you lots of things that fly. You've seen fighter jets and prop planes, helicopters, biplanes, planes that are nothing but wings, Air Force One, Marine One, a couple of space shuttles, the first airplane ever, Thunderbirds and Blue Angels, some hot air balloons, crazy people jumping out of perfectly good airplanes, all kinds of birds from cranes to eagles, owls to kestrels, magnificent frigate birds to scissor-tail kites, even rays that try to break the surly bonds of earth, but this may be the first blimp I've brought you.  (Nope, I'm wrong.  Saw the same one back in 2006, I just forgot about it.) No idea why it was flying over Brandon as I was driving down the interstate this afternoon. We had a bowl game in Tampa over the weekend, perhaps it was here for that. Gotta love Snoopy, even if he is schilling for MetLife.