How Lucky Can You Get?

Double Rainbow

Double Rainbow

A photographer’s dream appeared–a double rainbow, perfectly framing a group of pines!  How lucky can you get?  Until, of course, you realize you do not have a camera, not even the camera on your smartphone.  Not too smart, it turns out.  However, luck does prevail when your sister-in-law has her (creaky, outdated) iPhone.  Having borrowed it, I discovered that the iPhone camera would take panorama shots.  The above image is the result.  Enjoy!

Portland’s Chinese Garden

Recently I was in Oregon visiting my sister-in-law.  We took a day trip to Portland, where we visited Powell’s Bookstore, which claims to be the largest bookstore in the world.  Covering an entire city block and having several stories, the claim may just be accurate!  One thing is for sure, I spent entirely too much money there and had to ship my books back rather than carry them on the plane.

Following the bookstore, we went to the nearby Lan Su Chinese Garden, also covering an entire city block.  What a lovely and inspiring place!  The garden was built by craftsmen from Portland’s sister city, Suzhou in China’s Jiangsu province, famous for its gardens.  Sixty-five artisans from Suzhou completed the garden in 2000, assembling materials brought from and partially constructed in China.  Doorways and windows create an illusion of infinite space.  Each doorway is headed by inscriptions on each side.

Knowing the Fish Pavilion

Knowing the Fish Pavilion

Everything here has a story here.  One of the first stops as one tours the garden is the Knowing the Fish Pavilion.  It is said that two philosophers were talking as they watched the fish in the pool.  The first one noted how happy the fish are.  The second one said: “You are not a fish.  How can you know that the fish are happy?”  The first answers: “You are not me.  How do you know what I know?”

[Read more…]

Night Photography–Trial Run

Did you know there are official, international dark sky parks?  I didn’t until I was recently in Michigan visiting family members.  One of my cousin’s sons is an astronomy buff, and he was hoping to go to the Headlands, in the Mackinac Straits.  Unfortunately the park road was under repair, so getting to the beach area for night time viewing meant a one mile hike–carrying telescopes, tripods, cameras, etc.  Being somewhat daunted by that idea, we went out along the shore of Lake Bellaire, near Traverse City.

Lake Bellaire

Lake Bellaire

This was my first attempt at night photography, but hopefully not my last.  We were able to get a good view of the Big Dipper between two trees, a pine and a spruce.  I tried my hand at some light painting, with very mixed results.  The first flashlight I tried was far too bright, overpowering the sky.  I then switched to another one, with one satisfactory result.  With Mark’s help I was able to pick out the Andromeda Galaxy, “a spiral galaxy approximately 780 kiloparsecs from Earth.  Also known as Messier 31, M31, or NGC 224, it is often referred to as the Great Andromeda Nebula in older texts” (Wikipedia).  One kiloparsec is defined as 3260 light years.  In other words, the light from the Andromeda Galaxy that I captured left the galaxy 3260 x 780 years ago, or 2,542,800 years ago, before the age of mammals.

Here are the results of my first attempt at night photography.  I was using a Nikon D750 camera body, with a Nikon 20mm f/1.8 lens.  Click on the image for the best view.

Big Dipper 1 4.0 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 6400

Big Dipper 1
4.0 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 6400  

Big Dipper 2, Light Painting 5.0 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 6400

Big Dipper 2, Light Painting
5.0 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 6400

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milky Way 1 5.0 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 6400

Milky Way 1
5.0 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 6400  

Andromeda Galaxy 2.5 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 6400

Andromeda Galaxy
2.5 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 6400

Adele Rowland, OP–Photographer

Adele Rowland, who passed away recently, was a Dominican Sister of San Rafel, CA.  She was also an extraordinary photographer, having studied under the likes of Ansel Adams, Ruth Bernhard, and Jerry Uelsmann.  Despite this tutelage, she preferred color photography and was a pioneer in color photomontage.  The art of photomontage in the era of PhotoShop is much easier; simply put two images in separate layers, move them at will, select a blend mode, etc.  But Sister Adele worked with film.  Each image must be precisely composed to fill the frame.  Also, each must be underexposed so the combination does not become too dark.

Here are a couple of Sister Adele’s montages:

Counterpoint

Counterpoint

Arizona Butte

Arizona Butte

You can read about Sister Adele’s vision here.  She was the first recipient of the Fra Angelico Award in 1998.  Other Dominican artists are featured in the Dominican Institute for the Arts.

Waterplace Park From Above

Memorial Boulevard

Memorial Boulevard

Providence is a beautiful city, much more beautiful than when I moved here in 1984.  Back then the Providence River flowed through the city (as it still does), but nearly all of its course was covered with roadways.  Now it is opened up.  Furthermore, it is the site of an artistic installation known as Waterfire.  The creation of sculptor Barnaby Evans, Waterfire became an annual attraction in 1997, following two initial events in 1994 and 1996.  The installation consists of several braziers placed in Waterplace Park and along the Providence River.  These are stoked with maple wood and lit at sunset.  City streets are blocked off and several restaurants provide outside seating, giving downtown Providence the feel of a European city.

Waterplace Park

Waterplace Park

Yesterday I had a chance to view the site of Waterfire from a new perspective, the 14th floor terrace of the Waterplace Residence, a condominium complex at Waterplace Park.  This locale afforded a view looking down on Waterplace Park and the Providence River, as well as a panorama of the skyline of the city.  You can see the braziers used for Waterfire.  You can also take in the best side of Providence Place Mall, the Westin Hotel, the Biltmore Hotel, and Providence’s own “Superman Building.”  Not really used in filming anything related to Superman–TV series or movies–the building is said to look like the Daily Planet building in the 1950s comic books.  Unfortunately the building now stands empty, although it is home to nesting peregrine falcons.  You can monitor their progress via this Peregrine webcam run by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.

Enjoy this view of Waterfire from above, at noon and without the fire!