Setting Up Field Astrophotography

Telescope Setup at Twilight
Setting up the telescope for lunal viewing as the sun sets

The clear summer skies are upon us it seems, so my nephew and I setup for some viewing and photography last night. For more of a how-to-tutorial I should at some point talk equipment and setup but I’ll save that for another day. The skies were clear last night but the atmospheric conditions were not the best for planetary astrophotography, so we stuck with “night shots” and the Milky Way.

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Photography at Southern Museum of Flight

Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display
Southern Museum of Flight Aviation Display

I finally made it over to the Southern Museum of Flight. I have lived, worked, and traveled around Birmingham for the better part of my life, but had never been over to this particular museum, even when I worked at the Birmingham Airport. On Saturday I had some uncommitted time in Birmingham and I decided to head over towards the airport to check it out. I wasn’t real sure how much there would be there to see, but I was pleasantly surprised and I had basically complete access to shoot throughout the museum. I love aviation museums (the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola is probably my favorite, thought I haven’t been to the Smithsonian yet). There is a civil aviation side (hanger) and a military aviation side, each with unique displays.

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Post Process of Smelling the Roses

Portrait of Emerson the Cat
Portrait of Emerson the Cat

I finally had a chance to get out and “smell the roses” as they say. I’ve found it to be harder and harder over the years to just slow down and spend an hour or two walking through the property, there always seems to be something pressing that needs attention, and that is not my most enjoyable (or effective) pace. I took a few images here straight out of the camera that were my favorites. There was no post-processing done on these images, they were the jpg’s right off the card (and as such need a little sharpening and so on).

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That On Again Romance with Photography

wisteria-spring-2016-a
Spring Wisteria Blooms in the South

One of the first pictures created was said to have been taken in 1838 by Louis Daguerre, which shows Boulevard du Temple, in Paris. Susan Sontag in her classic 1977 criticism On Photography said “to collect photographs is to collect the world,” and as a photographer I often ask myself, hasn’t the entire world been collected yet? Why does the world need one more photographer taking one more photo?

The inventory started in 1839 and since then just about everything has been photographed, or so it seems. This very insatiability of the photographing eye changes the terms of confinement in the cave, our world. ~On Photography, 1977.

The answer often seems much more complicated. What is amazing about Sontag’s words from almost 40 years ago is we actually haven’t yet photographed Plato’s cave, our world. Today we upload over 2 billion images a day to social media sites, and just trying to figure out how many images may have been taken in the world is basically impossible. How, with billions of photographs being taken each day, has the entire world yet to be fully photographed? Because time is always moving forward, and the world is always straining under the constant change that time provides. If constantly changing, the art of photography an always ever changing medium, showing the world we live in 1/250th of a second at a time. A small point in time, but one that will never happen again.

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Hot Walk Around

mushrooms-summer

It was so hot today that every time I went outside I felt like I was going to just pass out. The humidity has been so super high this summer that it just feels suffocating. I decided before dinner I was going to get off my butt and go for a walk, and I made it around the property exactly once. I was walking slow and looking for something of worth to take a photo of, like these mushrooms, but couldn’t do any more than one lap. It was worth getting out here, but the woods were full of the summer spiders ever expanding their reach from tree to tree, and I had to be constantly look for snakes, especially since the kids killed that rattlesnake our here last week.

Stop for Spotting at ATL

atl-airport-frontier-a320

The Atlanta airport is so close to where we had lunch today, and directly on the way home that I decided to stop for a bit to see if I could do a little spotting. It was super hot on the upper deck and parking is an absolute nightmare. I didn’t realize until after I had parked and walked to the spotting location I was familiar with in the short-term parking that there is now a parking lot, holding area, just before you get into the drop off and pick up area. It’s perfect for spotting since it’s right there up against one of the active runways, but visibility of what’s coming is very limited. The view up on the top of the parking deck is great, but it’s very hot and exposed, and it did end up costing $4 for the 90 minutes or so I was there.

I ended up walking around inside the airport for a while to find something to drink. It was a crazy zoo of people chaotically moving around seemingly mindlessly through the mire of the modern and busiest airport in the country. I was glad I stopped, I wish I had more time to spend but it was about as perfect timing wise as it could have been to be able to get back to Auburn at a decent hour.

Crafty Christmas at The Railyard in Opelika

Crafty Christmas at The Railyard
Band Plays Christmas Music Outside at the Crafty Christmas in The Railyard
Crafty Christmas in The Railyard
Band Plays Christmas Music Outside at the Crafty Christmas in The Railyard

Tonight we went over to the Crafty Christmas at The Railyard in Opelika. This was the first  “Crafty Christmas Craft Show,” which is a fundraiser for BigHouse Foundation, a non-profit ministry in Lee County, AL that supports foster care families. The show was held Thursday, November 29th from 6-9pm at the Cotton District on Railroad Avenue in downtown Opelika, and of course, they had some of my favorite live local performs to bring an extra bit of excitement only they could accomplish.

The turnout looked great, and it was the first time I had been able to get over to The Railyard, a really neat venue just across the railroad tracks from the main downtown area. Above are just a few of my favorite shots of the band, and yes, this was a fundraiser in the form of a craft show, so there was a lot more there than just the guys pictured above, but they were my favorite crafted art. Have a good weekend wherever you might be this November 29.

Fall in the Face of a Child and His Parents

The Brian Johnson Family

Last week I did a photo shoot with this little guy and his family. I love his countless expressions, his pure innocent adoration of his father, and the love he has for his mother. Here are a few shots from that day on one of the last warm days for a while. We just barely have enough leaves on the ground to make it somewhat fall like, but being the first of November, fall is finally here.

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

Parting Shots for Auburn vs Texas A&M

Parnorama of Jordan-Hare Stadium from the Endzone
Parnorama of Jordan-Hare Stadium from the Endzone

It’s not like anyone ever wants to remember a 63-21 total blowout like what happened on Saturday, but there is more to life than football, even in the south. I’m not just saying that because we have only one single win against a ULM team we probably should have lost to, I said that in 2010 when we won the National Championship as well. That doesn’t mean people, media, fans, and the like can’t be brutal when Auburn doesn’t win every single game, or a single game, just look at the cover of the OANews below, but it’s still not the end of the world as we know it (just ask the 1952 fans).

There have been a few things this football year that have been interesting and fun. I did finally get a decent shot of Nova, Auburn’s Golden Eagle from the Raptor Center (below), and last Saturday we have 4 F-16’s do a flyover at the game for military appreciation week. The flyover was rare for Jordan-Hare Stadium lately (see my iPhone video of the flyover here), I can’t remember the last one we had, and they actually didn’t really even fly that low and loud either. I didn’t stick around for the parachuting team that jumped at halftime in the dark blustering cold, but all the military appreciation fanfare was outstanding. This may have been a day to forget the score and the game forever, true, but it’s fall in the south. We were blessed with being able to see with our eyes and hear with our ears yet another day the Lord had made.

Auburn Golden Eagle Nova
Auburn’s Golden Eagle Nova Poses for the Camera
Texas A&M Football Player Warms Up
Texas A&M Football Player Warms Up Around the Auburn Band
Auburn Marching Band vs Texas A&M
Auburn Marching Band vs Texas A&M
Auburn Marching Band vs Texas A&M
Auburn Marching Band vs Texas A&M
Chalk on the Wall Things Will Be Better Auburn Football
Written in Chalk on the Wall on Auburn’s Campus
Front Cover of the OANews Sports Section
Front Cover of the OANews Sports Section

Last Breath of Summer from a Beach in Gulf Shores

Lighthouse Sunset Over the Gulf of Mexico
Lighthouse Silhouette as the Sun Sets Over the Gulf of Mexico

Busyness has many enemies, but to me, one of the greatest causalities of busyness is the loss of creativity. When life turns into a checklist of task items the thing that loses out, at least in my life, is always the creativity of reading, writing, photography, poetry, contemplation, prayer, games, music, and so on. Many of those can be viewed as spiritual disciplines, which means one could say that busyness can pull us away from those things in our life that are to be set aside for worship.

This past weekend I finally got a few days to go down to the beach and relax, only it wasn’t quite as relaxing as I had thought it might be. Sure it was time away from the routines of life, which was great, but I really think it takes more than a few days to untwist your mind from the speed of life we live today. That’s the part that never really happened… but that’s ok too, after all, how busy could it possibly be with the view from our balcony below. What we did get to do was visit with family we haven’t seen in a few years, I finally got to visit the aviation museum in Pensacola (that post is upcoming), and we enjoyed a few glorious sunsets on some empty white sand beaches.

I left Auburn hoping to get through two books while I was down at the beach, both of which I had made it about one chapter deep. I managed to make it to the last chapter of the first book, one called Lifted By Angels by Joel Miller, and one I hope to write a review about soon. This was a great book to read uninterrupted at the beach, a place where one’s thoughts can be lifted above the routine of daily needs. There were so many quotes that caught my attention in this anthology about our interactions with angels, especially when it comes to our interaction through a prayerful life, but this stood out when talking about asking for things in prayer…

Isaac the Syrian said that when we ask for earthly things, it’s like a subject standing before his king and imploring him for a measure of manure. The request insults both the king and the subject.

I think we often get so caught up in the earthly life of “things” and the tasks of the day, we forget our life is about preparing for eternity, not necessarily worrying about tomorrow. Below is sort of a timeline from sunup to moonup on our last day, in the last bit of summer warmth before the real fall arrives soon.

Balcony View of Gulf of Mexico
Balcony View of Gulf of Mexico
Sun Setting Over the Gulf of Mexico
Sun Setting Over the Gulf of Mexico
Sunset Through the Grass at Gulf Shores
Sunset Through the Grass at Gulf Shores
Moonrise Over the Beach
Moonrise Over the Beach