Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Irene came calling

Based on weather forecasts we had seen over several days, hurricane Irene, which had already been downgraded to a tropical storm, was projected to barely brush our area with its western-most edge. Indeed we saw a pickup in wind speed yesterday afternoon and clouds scudded by and delivered some rain - all in all, however, nothing of consequence.

Around 7:45 pm my eyes were drawn to an eerie glow coming through the back windows. The entire western sky had turned orange with hardly any discernible clouds. I was making a few shots of this out the back door when my wife called me to come look out front. There was one of the most brilliant rainbows I'd seen in a long time, against an orange-hued backdrop. The rainbow lasted just long enough for me to make a few shots when the light started to fade, taking with it the rainbow. The glow in the sky to the west also diminished and it was now possible to see the cloud formations again.

I checked the time in the photo EXIF data - the entire episode had taken place in 10 minutes. We've been blessed with some lovely sunsets in our back yard before but I don't think they've been quite this vivid - I'm sure this was Irene's calling card.

[I was hoping to post this last night but our internet was slower than usual - if that's possible ! It's been taking a long time to load other blogs making visits a real chore, however, my letters to Xplornet's senior management have at least given me direct access to their level 3 techs. Hope reigns eternal.]

(18-55mm  f9.0  1/30 sec  ISO200)

(10-22mm  f6.3  1/20 sec  ISO200)

(10-22mm  f8.0  1/10 sec  ISO200)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Country evening

Although it missed Florida, we got out of Irene's path and made it back to a more temperate climate this week. Our hopes are that at worst Irene's fury will be spent at sea and that the eastern seaboard will be spared significant damage.

In contrast to the wild images coming out of the Bahamas, Sasha and I went out for a short ride last evening in the tranquility of the countryside near our home.

(all shots made with a 10-22mm lens, at either f11 or f14, ISO200, and shutter speeds ranging from 1/2 to 6 seconds)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Subtropical Sunset Sunday

As I've said in previous sunset posts, descriptive words are entirely superfluous when accompanied by a sunset photo. I spent a couple of hours at the waterfront a few evenings ago transfixed as the evening sunset ritual unfolded. There's something about the thunderstorm cloud formations and perhaps humidity and warmth in the tropics that have a magical effect on light. Here are two views taken about 30 minutes apart.

(18-55mm  f11  1/250 sec  ISO200)
click on the photos for a better view
(10-22mm  f5.6  1/5 sec  ISO200)

For more beautiful sunsets, check out Scott's blog.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Venice Venture

Pack a lunch, bring some chairs, and settle back on one of the beaches in Venice (Florida, not Italy). It's summertime - the living is easy, the weather is hot and humid, and the tourists are few. You'll almost have the beach to yourself.

We sat in the shade of the Australian pines and did what you can only do when it's 34C/94F - nothing. Well, we did walk out on the jetty to see what the few fishermen were catching - not much, besides plenty of sun. And we took in the beauty of the place.

(10-22mm  f11  1/320 sec  ISO400)

the view from my chair
(70-200mm  f8.0  1/2000 sec  ISO400)
 looking west down the jetty
(10-22mm  f8.0  1/1600 sec  ISO400)

view across the inlet to North Jetty Park
(10-22mm  f8.0  1/1600 sec  ISO400)

in the shade of the Australian pines
(10-22mm  f11  1/250 sec  ISO400)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Flash photography

From what I've read, Florida is the lightning capital of the US, and from what we've seen so far in the few days we've been here it's living up to its reputation. I find thunderstorms fascinating, although I do apply common sense and try to stay out of harm's way by following the adage "when the thunder roars, get indoors !"

Last night I missed an opportunity to capture the sunset illuminating towering cumulonimbus clouds just to the east of us. By the time we got home though, frequent flashes of lightning lit up the storm clouds. (I suffered numerous mosquito and no-see-um bites to get some captures, but no bugs were hurt during the session).

(all shots made with an 18-55mm lens at f8.0, ISO800 and shutter speeds of 1/5 to 1/8 sec)

click on images for a better view

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cool as ice

Have you ever noticed how some people's voices go up about an octave and they switch to rapid fire mode when they get really excited, or scared ? I suspect that's one of the tests you have to take when you apply to become a commercial airline pilot. I'm sure that in order to pass this audition you need to sound like the captain on our flight this week.

Both legs of our journey had been very smooth till we were within 30 minutes of our destination. I had been watching a band of thunderstorms looming in the distance, and it looked like we were headed right for them. As we approached what by now looked like a solid wall of dark clouds, the captain came on the PA and in a calm, cool, unhurried voice said "Ladies and gentlemen, you may have noticed some clouds on the right side of the airplane. There are thunderstorms the rest of the way along our route and we're going to have to go through them. Please make sure your seatbelts are fastened - it could get a little bumpy."

"It could get a little bumpy." That's similar to a dentist telling you "you could feel a little pinch" as he stabs you in the most tender part of your gums with an 8" needle ! I suspect there were a few sweaty palms on board, but none in the cockpit.

For the next 20 minutes we weaved and dodged among the swirling mass of clouds which now towered over us. Here and there we would catch glimpses of the ground. We waited with bated breath for the inevitable roller coaster ride. Suddenly we broke through the bottom layer of cloud and were on the tarmac within minutes. Our captain had picked his way through the storms and not a drop would have spilled from a full glass of ice water.

(both shots made with an 18-55mm lens at f11, ISO200, shutter speeds of 1/640 and 1/500 sec)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Sunset Serenity

"There is such a thing as taking ourselves and the world too seriously, or at any rate too anxiously. 

Half of the secular unrest and dismal, profane sadness of modern society comes from the vain idea that every man is bound to be a critic of life, and to let no day pass without finding some fault with the general order of things, or projecting some plan for its general improvement. 

And the other half comes from the greedy notion that a man's life does consist, after all, in the abundance of things that he possesses, and that it is, somehow or other, more respectable and pious to be always at work trying to make a larger living, than it is to lie on your back in the green pastures and beside the still waters, and thank God that you are alive.”   
Henry Van Dyke

(10-22mm  f11  1/60 sec  ISO200)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Close to home

The summer is going by quickly, and this summer is more like the ones I remember as a kid - hot, dry, and sunny every day; virtually no rain to speak of. I decided to walk around the yard yesterday, camera in tow, to capture a little of the colour before what remains succumbs even further to the heat and drought.

(all shots made with a 70-200mm lens at ISO200, apertures ranging from f5.6 to f14 and shutter speeds from 1/320 to 1/4 sec)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tongues of fire

As in many parts of the continent, the drought continues here too. We've been teased off and on with forecasts of 'isolated showers' which turn out to be so isolated that they don't seem to occur where people actually live. This evening again there was a faint promise in the clouds. However, I got the hose out anyway to water the parched veggies and flowers (I thought I could actually hear little thank-yous from the plants as they received some precious drops).

As the sun started setting, the sky took on a golden glow, which progressively flowed into orange, then pink, and finally red. That's when I had to put the hose down and grab the camera to catch the finale.

A couple of updates (or good news/bad news): my Canon made it back in much less time than promised on the web site - looks like I hit the magic number of shots at which point the shutter stops working. All is well again. 

The news on the internet side is disheartening - after countless hours with various Xplornet tech support people and escalations to management, the issue comes down to one of wireless tower congestion - too many users and not enough capacity, and no plans to upgrade. So each evening at prime time our internet is slower than dial-up which drastically impedes my blog visiting ability. I even tried out a competitor's offering (Rogers) who assured me I would receive up to 5Mbps download - unfortunately there is no signal in our area. As a last resort, I've written letters to Xplornet senior management - I plan to continue breathing whilst awaiting a response.

(both shots made with a 18-55mm lens at f8.0, ISO200 and shutter speeds of 1/13 and 1/25 sec)