Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Colors of Times Square

A recent trip found me wandering in Times Square during a late summer afternoon, just in time to catch wonderful collection of colors.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Best Airport Bookstore?

Getting to the Tucson Airport early a couple of weeks ago turned out to be a blessing as I found what I think is the best airport bookstore in the country. Not only visually stunning but also with the selection of books in the store. I was shocked that just about on every shelf, there were books that I have read. It was like a book store of my own books. I spoke to the two workers in the store and the owner worked at one of the book publishers and this was more of a labor of love for books than anything else. So, do you have a candidate for the best airport bookstore? Barbara's Bookstore at Ohara is nice but maybe hurt by the fact that they have two or three locations. Nothing else sticks in my mind. Anyway, love to hear of other candidates.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

So, when does it happen again?

One last eclipse shot so I can go over when we get to see it again. In 2019 and 2020 you get two eclipses hitting similar areas in the South Pacific, Argentina and Chile. Those will be big bucks trips to see around 2 minutes of totality. The first gets you to astronomical sights high up in July in Chile's Elqui Valley which has dozens of world-class telescopes, however, that comes with high probably of clouds in the southern winter and with the sun low in the sky. The second is in December 2020 in late afternoon so the sun is high in the sky with the center line over a tourist-friendly area in the Chilean Lake District. It would be hard to pick one of those but maybe maybe we can start saving now for a Christmas trip to the southern hemisphere in 2020. Definitely would be a huge check off the bucket list.

However, if you want the eclipse to come to you then it is April 8, 2024 where you have totality swinging across Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois (across my cousin's property again), Indiana, Ohio, New York and Vermont. It will be hard not to see the eclipse at my cousin's place as we did this trip. It was so much fun seeing it with family members but chances of cloud cover are much lower and the eclipse much longer in Waco, Texas. There you will get 4 minutes and 13 seconds of darkness with low probably of clouds. Dallas gets 3 minutes and 49 seconds so that is an easy reach as well. Austin and San Antonio are fun towns to visit and they get hit with a short totality as they are just inside the path's southern edge. However, they can be staging areas with short trips to the center line. As we learned with this eclipse, the trip back can overwhelm the roads, but Texas looks like the place to be in 2024!!!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Three Blackhawks' Rings

With the temps a little cooler, darkness coming earlier and sunlight coming later and with school staring already, minds turn to well, football, but also hockey. The Blackhawks start training camp in about 3 weeks and Davern's Tavern got ready by having all three Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup rings come to the bar for a fund raiser last week. One of our good friends at the bar, Southside Jake, a super talented musician, is the proud owner of these rings and was good enough to let patrons take pictures with the rings. The middle one is my favorite but many at the bar liked the one on the right (the Hawks most recent ring) the best.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Blue Sky Eclipse Shot

Most eclipse shots have to be taken at high speed so you don't blow out the sun. Since I was bracketing some of my shots, this is taken at a much slower speed, 1/6th of a second. As a result, it is a bit blurry as you can't hand hold easily at that speed but I also get more of the color of the sky, which for this eclipse, was brighter than I expected. A fellow member of the Naperville Astronomical Association speculated that this eclipse was brighter than normal as the high thin clouds were reflecting light giving us a dark, but not completely dark, eclipse experience. Notice the contrails along the bottom right corner. I hope they got an eclipse view from the plane.

A more heavily edited version of this same shot is below. I darkened the sky to bring out detail that the camera captures within its dynamic range. Your eye does this naturally. I can't remember which of these two shots is more "real". I think the sky color in the first shot is as I remember with the disk of the sun being covered by the moon more "real" in the more edited shot.

There is no one right way to edit a shot. Even in the film world, you could choose between different film stocks which could emphasis and pick up different colors in a scene. Fuji film was famously richer in color than Kodak. Same with digital. Their is no real. There are only choices. I try to stay closer to what I saw (which is more a combination of these two shots) with my colors usually a little richer, ala Fuji Film, which was my favorite choice in the film days. I try not to over process the colors and in the more edited shot above, I turned down the blue color as it didn't look like I remembered.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Sun, Moon and the Diamond Ring, One More Time

The original post of this shot two days ago was just after I got back from a long, long drive from southern Illinois and I didn't have time to do much editing. So, this shot is a more edited version of the diamond ring. Basically this shot is being taken between one and two seconds after third contact where the sun is starting to come back after being eclipsed. Right after this point it is too bright to even look at the sun directly and the camera would start to get blown out and even be damaged from focusing on the sun. Naked eye, you would need to put your eclipse glasses back on. I was not looking through the viewfinder, which would also be dangerous, but I was looking at the live view on the back of the camera as I took a few very quick shots as the sun came back from the eclipse.

Anyway, just lucky enough to catch the diamond ring effect. As to editing a shot like this you have to be aware that the camera is being overwhelmed by the bright, bright sunlight coming back, the bright corona and the dark disk of the moon with all of that being surrounded by somewhat lighter sky around the sun. There is no way to catch all of that in a single shot and even in multiple shots is very difficult to catch. So, in editing you can choose to pick up the light sky or you can darken the sky and pick up the diamond ring. I picked the second option which was much closer to how it looked visually anyway. For me, that diamond ring will stick in my mind for a long, long time.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipsed Sun, Moon and Mercury

Mercury is there, quite visible just off to the left of the sun but naked eye I didn't see it. I think the corona was too bright to see Mercury with the naked eye, but I forgot to look. (Correction: my older son Michael, which much better eyes, saw it easily--so I stand corrected.) To see it in camera, I darkened the sky and it pops out easily. Most eclipse shots with the sky dark like this are a bit of a fake as the sky is not pitch black dark during an eclipse. It was a really dark blue to the naked eye. As to the other planets, we all did easily see Venus to the west and Jupiter, to the east. Despite the traffic on the way back and the heat during the day, this was as great an event especially having many family members around. Wish we could have had more, especially Jono and Sam. They are first up next time. April 2024 here we come (and maybe a trip to South America to see another one sooner???)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse Diamond Ring

Too tired to post anything except this one shot. Got a nice one with the sun coming out of the solar eclipse so you see the corona, the eclipsed sun with the moon over its face and part of the sun peaking out from behind a gap in a lunar mountain to give the ring effect. More tomorrow. I am too exhausted to do anything but share this post.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Getting Eclipse Ready--China 2009 Part 2

This was our view of the eclipse through the rain and the clouds in Beijing in 2009. While the picture doesn't look like much, we did get to see the eclipse, which at that point we thought we would be totally clouded out. As Stephanie described in her Facebook post yesterday, this is a visual event but it is also a full body event. You feel many experiences happening all at once. The change in temperature, the strange visual sight, the confusing sounds of animals heading to shelter for the night, the wonder of it all. And that was through clouds and rain. I would like to see one in the clear sky one day. Heading to southern Illinois this weekend and hope to get lucky with the weather. If not, there is always April 2024!!!

Totality. Not a great shot but a great memory.
 A celebratory post glass of Champagne.
 As I said in yesterday's post, Stephanie was a rock star in China.

 We were getting rained on at this point.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Getting Eclipse Ready--China 2009

Being taught about the Tiananmen Square massacre from a local tour guide.

Traditional tourist shot of the Imperial Palace.

Stephie would attract a lot of attention with her red hair and smile where ever we went. She was like a rock star here near the site of the Olympic Village. People were lining up to take pictures with her.

We got to sit in a lecture by famous eclipse weather forecaster and eclipse chaser, Jay Anderson, who even with this coming eclipse, is the go-to expert on chances for clear skies on eclipse day.

People would gather in this park in Beijing every day to dance and play music. A wonderful (and free) way to get exercise and enjoy the day. They do this every day.

The shot below is our eclipse location. And yes, it is 100% cloud cover at this point. More on the blog tomorrow.

Stephie and I got to see a total eclipse, through the clouds and rain in a trip to China in 2009. She said, "Dad, I going with you because you are paying and because it is China. Don't expect me to go all ga-ga over the eclipse." Now, she is so excited to see this eclipse 7 years later, she is totally prepared for this one and helping me get family members to southern Illinois. Stephie is a great traveler (she packs very light) and I can't wait to see another eclipse with her. Hope we get better weather than last time, but there is always Texas in 6 years. Tomorrow, I will repost what we saw through the clouds.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Illinois State Fair Funnel Cakes

I can't speak to the Funnel Cakes but we were looking for the fried brownies. Saw some earlier in the day, but couldn't find them later on. Found a whole building of ice cream, the dairy building and had the best ice cream that I have ever had. Worth going to the Illinois State Fair, just for that.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Pink Sunset at the Illinois State Fair

Got to enjoy a quick trip to the Illinois State Fair in Springfield and caught these travelers during a beautiful pink sunset.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Summer In the City

A typical summer scene in Chicago.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Old Chevy in Blue

Got to visit a car show at Route 66 Raceway last weekend. Here is an old Chevy in blue.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Paul McCarthy in Tinley Park

I've become a bigger Beatle's fan in my later years than I ever was when they were a band or in the period after. So, for my 60th birthday, I got myself a "ticket to ride" with Cheryl to see Sir Paul and had a blast last week. As a photographer looking for color a concert is a place to be. Yet, I wish it was just Paul and his band on a bare stage. Not as much fun visually but that is all he needs.