Monthly Archives: June 2009

June 30, 2009 – Lightning over Colorado Springs

Lightning over Colorado Springs

Lightning over Colorado Springs

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

As promised, here’s another lightning storm from a ridiculously active storm that I was watching from the deck at my parents’ house.

I’ll keep the comments short because I’m stupid-busy at work today, and I’ve already said most of what I’d say in the post about the previous lightning picture, way back when. Go look for that one if you want to know more.

As I mentioned before, usually with lightning pictures, you have to keep a somewhat wide frame, since otherwise you’ll miss all of the strikes. But this storm was so amazingly active and CLOSE that I was able to get away with slapping on the huge telephoto lens. And, as you can see, on this shot, I got TWO strikes that were right across the valley from me. (You know how when lightning is really close, there’s no gap between the lightning and the thunder? Yeah, both of these.)

The other amazing thing about this shot is that it was taken with my old 35 mm camera. Which means a couple things: 1) I had no idea if I had even gotten any strikes in my pictures. I just held the shutter open for 45 seconds at a time and hoped. It wasn’t until several days later when I got the pictures back that I saw the results. 2) I was using film. Which meant I only had 24 chances per roll to get it right.

If I had been using digital, I would have not only been able to see if I was exposing it right before the storm ran it’s course, I would also have as many chances as I wanted to nail it. So I’m pretty happy that I was able to get both of these shots during just that one storm. And, actually, it was shortly after taking this picture that I just started getting a little too freaked out. Keep in mind that I was standing out on a deck in the rain next to a tripod while these strikes were hitting less than a mile away. Oh, did I mention that my parents’ house is on top of a hill? And that there’s a system of lightning rods on the top of the house because we get lots of lightning up there? Hmm. Yeah, I got my tail inside.

That’s it for today. I can’t think of a good way to wrap up this entry.

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June 29, 2009 – Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, La Connor, Washington

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, La Connor, Washington

Monday, June 29, 2009

Before I talk about today’s picture, there’s something I wanted to tell all of you:

I worked hard over the weekend to get the new “official” home of my Picture of the Day all caught up and ready for general consumption. It’s at . Go check it out. For the forseeable future I’m going to be cross-posting in both places, so if reading the entries here works for you, no need to change. But Facebook tweaks the pictures when I upload them, it resizes them smaller and at a lower quality level, so they get a bit blurry and chunky. Not a huge deal unless you look really closely (which I do), but I find it annoying. So the pictures on, while still shrunk from original full size, are definitely higher quality than you’ll see here on FB. Okay, enough about that, now on to today’s entry…

This is another picture from the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival near La Connor. Julie and I actually didn’t make it up there this year, so this is another picture from last year. There’s a few I want to post eventually from there/then, so I figure I should space them out because that’s what the rules say I need to do. You know, the rules.

The field we were hanging out in had pinks, reds, and some dark purple/maroons. Sadly, I totally failed in all of my attempts at getting good pictures involving the dark purples, because they totally tripped up the light meter, they just wouldn’t turn out right. But the reds and especially the pinks made for great shots.

With huge fields full of nearly identical brightly-colored flowers like these, there’s lots of different themes you can play around with. Depending on your vantage point, you can emphasize the endless fields of color, you can go after the repetitive patterns of the rows, you can focus on the detail of one or two flowers in particular, you can play the detail off against all of the above, etc, etc, etc. Lots of fun stuff. One of the biggest challenges is trying to get pictures without getting any of the hundreds of other people walking around in the frame. Which is a lot harder than it sounds. Also, one of my pet peeves is an otherwise really beautiful scene that gets rudely pulled back to reality by the presense of, say, an ordinary car, or a stupidly dressed person, that kind of thing. I tend to really dislike “ordinary” things getting into my pictures, because I guess I try to make my pictures as escapist as possible, if that even makes any sense.

I think tomorrow I’m going to post another lightning picture, because several weeks ago I said I was going to, but then I never did. So now you have something to look forward to.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens. 1/200s, f/8.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 154mm.

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June 26, 2009 – Butterfly



Friday, June 26, 2009

I’ve got a ton of pictures of this little guy. I saw him on some hike I was on a long time ago, and he was hanging out on the flowers near me for awhile, so I wasted a good 10 minutes or so just snapping away. It’s pretty likely that you’ll see him again, especially if I keep this Picture of the Day thing going long enough that I end up using all of the pictures that I think are pretty good, and have to start digging through the archives. (Not there yet, but someday…)

I assume that’s a wild daisy, but I’m really not so good at identifying flowers, so it could be anything really.

One thing that I never knew about butterflies until I looked at these pictures full size was that their eyes are really unusual. They look like robin eggs. (The candy, not the, you know, real thing. Although presumably the candy was named “robin eggs” because they look like robin eggs, but again, not something I know about.) Weird, but cool.

Man, another week gone by. Amazing how quick that happens. Have a great weekend!

(ps I’m slowly copying these Picture of the Day entries over to an actual hosted blog, at … so if using an RSS reader or just not using Facebook is more your style, have at it. I’ve still got a bunch of them to take care of still though. And the near-term plan is to just cross-post each day’s picture in both places, so if reading them on Facebook works for you, just pretend I didn’t say anything. Long-term plan? Who knows.)

Update: Hmm, I forgot that this was one of the pictures where you can’t really see the eyeballs. Whoops. If you wanted to see what I’m talking about, check this one out too:

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/400s, f/6.3, ISO 100. Focal length: 259mm.

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June 25, 2009 – Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

June 25, 2009

That’s a big ole’ waterfall.

Multnomah Falls, in northern Oregon. Actually, it’s right on the Oregon/Washington border. It’s right along I-84, which goes right along the southern shore of the Columbia River (which at that point serves as the border.) If you’re driving in the area, it’s definitely worth checking out. I mean, the parking lot is literally between the eastbound and westbound lanes of the highway, so if it sucks, how much time did you really lose?

I was there on the 2nd or 3rd of January this year. A bunch of us had driven down to Mt. Bachelor for New Year’s, and we decided to take the somewhat longer but much less snowy route that goes straight up to the Columbia River, then follows that down to Portland, then straight up I-5 to Seattle. (One of the problems with Mt. Bachelor is that it’s on the eastern side of the Cascades, so to get there, you have to cross the mountains at some point. Usually that means going past Mt. Hood. Alternatively, you can cross at Snoqualmie Pass in Washington (which is only at 3,000 feet). Both of those can get REALLY nasty if there’s a storm rolling through though (which there was when we were driving home), so this route stays relatively low the whole time, although it adds a couple hours to the drive.

One of the things I have the most trouble with when I take pictures is not tilting the camera. In most cases, when you’re taking pictures of mountains and such, it doesn’t matter if the image is tilted a few degrees to one side. But when there’s straight things, like buildings, trees, or in this case, bridges, if the camera is tilted, it can totally ruin an otherwise great image (in my opinion.) Granted, you can use software tools to straighten an image (and occasionally I do that), but that can subtly degrade an image (it’s a mathematical transformation that involves calculating new values for pixels based on averaging other pixels), so I try to just get it right the first time. This time, I nailed it. If you don’t believe me, drag another window that you have open on your computer along the bridge. Look at the upper edge of the window. You’ll see that the bridge is FLAT! F’ YES, it’s FLAT!

As you can tell, I got pretty excited about that. Whatever it takes, right?


Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm VC lens. 1/15s, f/8.0, ISO 400. Focal lenth: 50mm.

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June 24, 2009 – The Matterhorn

The Matterhorn, seen from Zermatt, Switzerland

June 24, 2009

As long as I’m on the theme of famous mountains.. This is, of course, the Matterhorn (or, Cervino to the Italians). It straddles the border between Italy and Switzerland. In fact, there’s a ski resort on either side (Zermatt in Switzerland, Cervinia in Italy) . I’ve heard that there’s lifts on each side that will take you up to the ridge, so you can ski between the resorts. Which is somewhat ironic considering that it would take basically a whole day of driving to get from one or the other. I know this because that’s basically what we did.

In today’s installment of piecing together the itinerary from when Julie and I were in Italy, I’ll mention that we spent a night and most of a day in Zermatt. Which is in Switzerland. After we had spent a couple nights in the national park in Italy, we drove over St. Bernard pass (yeah, where the dogs come from) into Switzerland, and got into Zermatt in the early evening. We stayed in a small hotel in the town of Randa, which is one town down from Tasch, which is where you catch the train into Zermatt. (You can’t drive there.)

The next morning, we parked in Tasch, and took the train into Zermatt. While there, we took the Gornergrat Bahn which takes you way up onto the mountain. That’s where I took this. (And a bunch of other pictures which you may or may not ever see.)

I think that’s all I wanted to say about this picture. That’s definitely all that I’m *going* to say about it. See you all tomorrow!


Nice shadow from the Matterhorn there.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/200s, f/8.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 71mm.

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