Al's Photography Blog

Al's Photography Blog
Folly Beach, South Carolina

Friday, April 30, 2010

Scenic Sunday - Seattle Aquarium

Down near the waterfront Seattle has a good aquarium. First I'll show a scenic view from the aquarium, for the Scenic Sunday meme.
We saw divers through the glass, talking to a group of schoolchildren.
There was a pool in which people could touch starfish and other saltwater creatures.
The highlight was the undersea dome, through which all kinds of creatures could be viewed.
From this dome it was possible to look up at the surface of the water.
And finally, I think this is a seal of some kind.
This aquarium makes for a very fun day out, especially with children.
Scenic Sunday

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Misty Pine Trees

At our elevation, sometimes we're in the clouds others are looking up at. This happened to us last week for about 24 hours straight, so I took the opportunity to go to Fox Run Park (one of my favorite places to walk Socks) and take a few photos for Skywatch Friday. They're not full of sky but I think they are still sky-related.
For more pictures of skies around the world, visit the great Skywatch Friday home page.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My World Tuesday - Snow & Socks

In my part of the world, we just had one of our big spring storms. Down the hill in Colorado Springs it was rain, but the extra elevation meant that it was all snow at our house. It dumped 15 inches (38 cm) of heavy spring snow, making the local roads challenging until the plows cleared them; even my snowblower had trouble this time. But now it's sunny and warm again, and the snow is melting quickly. So here are a couple of photos I took this morning, one of the road after the plow went through, and one of our dog Socks on top of a pile of snow.
For warmer parts of the world, visit the My World Tuesday home page.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Scenic Sunday - Royal Gorge Bridge

For Scenic Sunday, here are some shots of the Royal Gorge Bridge. It stands 1,053 feet (321 meters) above the Arkansas River, and is 1,270 feet (384 meters) long.
The cables weigh 300 tons.
There are 1,270 wooden planks that form the road surface of the bridge. (And yes, the No Fishing signs are still posted.)
It was built in 1929, and until very recently was the highest suspension bridge in the world. (Don't try to take this next photo if you're afraid of heights.)
The towers are 150 feet high.
The views are incredible, but those are for another post.
Scenic Sunday

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Royal Gorge Bridge

We had a visitor in town last weekend and took her to the Royal Gorge Bridge, about an hour south of Colorado Springs. It's a suspension bridge (with other assorted attractions) over 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River, and for Skywatch Friday (please click on the link to see skies from around the world) I thought I'd post a couple of sky-themed photos I took while I was there. First is a shot looking up at one of the towers while walking on the bridge. You can see the main cables running from the top to the bottom of the photo, and the cables that suspend the bridge surface coming off that (they look very thin in this picture).
Next is a shot looking up at the whole bridge from down in the canyon, 1,000 feet below. The spot just below the bridge, on the right near the rocks, is the tram (gondola) that crosses the gorge - it's barely visible in this photo.
Finally, and completely unrelated, a couple of photographs of clouds from the last week.
Lots more photos to come from the Royal Gorge, including nice shots of the bridge, photos taken from the aerial tram, and several from the bottom of the gorge (reached by an incline railway).

And now to answer a couple of questions people asked in the comments from the last week or so.

In last week's Skywatch Fridy post, Kcalpesh asked if the first photo was shot with a wide angle lens. The answer is yes, the first and last photos in that post were both shot wide-angle, with a 10mm lens (since I have a DX-format sensor, that equates to approximately 15mm in standard film format). The first two shots in this post was also shot were also shot with that lens, the first at 10mm and the second at 20mm, which are the extreme ranges of the lens (a Sigma 10-20mm for Nikon mount).

Ann asked if we get a lot of thunderstorms. We get more thunderstorms here than almost anywhere else in North America. Many years we'll get 60 or more days with at least one storm. In the spring and summer, days usually start out sunny, and clouds will form over the mountains, particularly Pikes Peak. In the late afternoon they'll move off the mountains and over us, and by the evening it's typically clear again. In a good year you can almost set your watch by the thunderstorms, so people who have lived here a while don't set up their outdoor activities for late afternoon. I love thunderstorms, but could live without the violent weather they sometimes spawn (last summer we had 3 tornadoes within 15 miles of our house).

And finally EG Wow asked if we still have snow in our mountains. We certainly do, in fact two ski resorts are still open top-to-bottom. But it's melting quickly in the warm weather we're getting.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My World Tuesday - Breckenridge Ski Area

The famous ski resort of Breckenridge is a couple of hours drive from our house, and I was up there recently (although not skiing this time). Here are a few pictures from the base area of one of the mountains (Peak 8 - the skiing spans peaks 7, 8, 9, and 10). The light was very flat so the shots weren't great, but here they are anyway. The first one shows a lift line at the base.
Next you can see the ski runs rising into the fog.
The highest lift reaches an altitude of 12,840 feet (3,910 m).
Here's an older lift rising into the distance.
And finally you can see a snowboarder in the air.
I can't wait to start skiing again next season - it's been a couple of years now but I'm ready to pick it up again! For interesting pieces of lots of different worlds, visit the My World Tuesday web site.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Scenic Sunday - Daniels Pass

Here are a few pictures from a hike over Daniels Pass (starting in North Cheyenne Canyon) last fall. I intended to go further and reach an abandoned settlement, but I had the dog with me and the trail become too challenging for him (in fact the trail basically vanished) so I didn't make it that far. Just trees and rocks, but I think they're scenic.


Scenic Sunday

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Assorted Clouds

As usual in the spring, we had quite the variety of skies in the last few days (including a thunderstorm off in the distance, too far away to photograph), so here are a few of them. I like the highlights from the sun in this first one.
The second one, taken three days later, shows the sun trying to break through.
And on this final shot from yesterday, I found the almost straight line where the clouds end fascinating. This line went from horizon to horizon, but I would have needed a fisheye lens to show that.
Please visit the Skywatch Friday site for lots more great spring skies.

Monday, April 12, 2010

My World Tuesday - Colorado Springs Founders

For My World Tuesday, here's a little information on my city and a couple of important figures from its history.

Colorado Springs was founded by William Jackson Palmer as a resort town back in 1871. It sits at an elevation of 6,035 feet (1,839 m) above sea level, but rises higher on its northern and western edges. It's at the foot of Pikes Peak, a mountain you can see in several of my photos. William Palmer was a colonel in the Union army during the civil war and was involved in the construction of railroads in the American West. He lived in Colorado Springs until his death in 1909. There's now a large statue of him on his horse in downtown Colorado Springs.
This statue is actually in the middle of a major intersection, causing lots of accidents. I'm sure he'd be happy about that! 
Spencer Penrose was one of the regions most important philanthropists. He and his wife Julie founded the El Pomar foundation back in 1937, and it's still active today with $500 million in assets and $25 million in annual grants to Colorado nonprofit organizations.
A few days ago ewok1993 asked what part of Colorado to see first. Assuming that you're not visiting for the skiing, here's where I'd start.

1. Rocky Mountain National Park. This is probably the single best way to see the mountains of Colorado. It's close to the main population centers on the Front Range, and there are nice places to stay nearby in Estes Park.

2. Not that I'm biased since I live here, but Colorado Springs (and nearby cities such as Manitou Springs) makes a great base to explore this part of the state. Area attractions include:
  • Pikes Peak, elevation 14,110 feet (4,300 m), up which you can drive, take a cog railroad, or hike if you're in very good shape.
  • Garden of the Gods, an amazing series of red rock formations.
  • Royal Gorge, an hours drive south, with one of the worlds highest suspension bridges and other fun touristy stuff such as the world's steepest incline railway to the bottom of the gorge.
  • The United States Air Force Academy.
  • Lots of local hiking in such areas as North Cheyenne Canyon.
  • Assorted attractions such as the Olympic Training Center, the Pro Rodeo Hall Of Fame, Cave of the Winds, Seven Falls, and many more.
3. There's so much other stuff to see in the state that you could spend weeks, including the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, the Great Sand Dunes, and the southwest part of the state including Ouray and Telluride. But the two mentioned above make a good place to start.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Scenic Sunday - Ferry to Bainbridge

One of the things worth doing in Seattle is riding one of the many ferries, a great (and inexpensive) way to get fantastic views of the city. We rode one to Bainbridge, an island on the other side of the Puget Sound. First up is a view of the city from the ferry.
Here's the Space Needle.
Here's a seagull, it's easy to get pictures of these as they follow the ferry.
This is looking towards Bainbridge Island with the Olympic Mountains in the background.
And finally a couple more general views around the Puget Sound.
Scenic Sunday

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Stormy Skies

All this week's Skywatch photos were taken from just outside my front door. We've had a wide variety of weather this week, from warm springlike days to snow. We finally had some clouds that looked like summer storms rather than the standard winter clouds - we'll see plenty of these in the next few months.
And yesterday morning it was snowing moderately, enough to close the schools and make the roads icy.
It's definitely springtime in the Rockies. For more springtime skies, visit the Skywatch Friday home page.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My World Tuesday - Eisenhower / Johnson Tunnel

I apologize if you commented on my blog and I haven't visited your blog lately - I was out of town this weekend with visiting family. I'm looking forward to making my rounds soon.

For this My World Tuesday entry, I thought I'd share a little about the Eisenhower and Johnson tunnels, two tunnels under the continental divide which carry Interstate 70 - if you drive from Denver to most of the ski areas you'll pass through them. The Eisenhower tunnel carries the westbound lanes, and the Johnson tunnel the eastbound lanes, but they are side-by-side and basically identical. At a maximum elevation of 11,158 ft (3.4 km) above sea level, they are the highest vehicular tunnels in the United States, and some of the highest in the world. They are approximately 1.7 miles (2.7 km) long. These pictures were taken driving eastbound on Saturday (by my stepdaughter Jennifer, so my driving was not distracted!)

Here we're about the enter the tunnel on a snowy afternoon.
Here's a picture inside the tunnel.
And finally we're about to exit and start the long, long downhill to Denver.
Of all the things in Colorado to post, the inside of a tunnel may be one of the least interesting, but it's a small part of my world from the weekend. For other peoples' worlds, visit the My World home page.
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