Al's Photography Blog

Al's Photography Blog
Folly Beach, South Carolina

Monday, May 31, 2010

My World Tuesday - Air Force Academy Graduation & More Thunderbirds

For this Memorial Day, here are some pictures from last week's United States Air Force Academy graduation. My thanks go out to all those who are serving their country, those veterans who have served, and my deepest respect to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It is because of you that we have our freedoms today. It may seem like a trivial example, but it is because of people like you that we have such a vibrant blogosphere, where we can post without fear of the government knocking at our doors.

The ceremony takes place in the Air Force Academy stadium.
The band strikes up some music.
It starts with the senior cadets (i.e. the ones graduating) marching in straight lines to their seats. This year there were 1,001 graduating cadets.
 Assorted speakers give advice and entertain the crowd. This year's featured speaker was Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was a good speaker.
Finally, the graduates all walk across the stage as their names are announced and get their diplomas. Then it's time for the traditional hat toss.
The hat toss coincides exactly with the first pass of the Thunderbirds over the stadium. The classic photo includes both the hats and the Thunderbirds but you need to be on the stadium floor for that.
Here is one more maneuver from the Thunderbirds display, four pictures from a quick sequence. It's called a hesitation roll, where they start in level flight. They roll 90 degrees (not shown here), hold their positions, 90 degrees more, hold it (upside down), 90 degrees more, hold it, and 90 degrees more back to normal flight. All in formation! For more Thunderbirds pictures look at my post from last Thursday.
For lots of great posts about peoples' worlds, visit the My World Tuesday home page.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Scenic Sunday - St. Mary's Falls

Here are some pictures of a hike I took last fall to St. Mary's Falls. The trail starts in North Cheyenne Canyon, at Gold Camp Road, like several of my favorite local hikes. I started early, as the first picture shows, taken in early daylight with the moon still visible.
After about a mile the trail leaves the road and follows a gentle stream. (The second picture here is the one from which I took my login photo.)
The city is visible below.
Finally, after a couple of miles, the main waterfall is the reward as it cascades down the rocks, refreshing the viewer after the long climb (and refreshing the dog as he drinks from the stream).
And finally, a picture of Socks taken on this hike. He loves to hike and has no trouble handling even one of this length, 5.6 miles round trip with substantial elevation gain.
Scenic Sunday

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Thunderbirds

First I'd like to answer a couple of questions from my last post's comments, about the inflatable building. Kaori, the air pressure within the building isn't high enough to make a difference in the game. However, our altitude does. The air pressure here is about three-quarters that of sea level, and that means that golf balls travel further and tennis balls behave differently. Carolyn, I've never heard of one of these buildings rupturing, but I wouldn't want to be inside it during one of our big thunderstorms with large hail. My son thinks that this type of building is no different to play in than any other indoor tennis court.

Now, on to the Skywatch Friday post. I was at the Air Force Academy yesterday for graduation (congratulations to the cadet we sponsor), and thought some pictures I took of the Thunderbirds would make a good post. I was certainly looking skyward when I took these photographs - the first one was hard to get as the planes were passing each other going in opposite directions at very high speed!

Whether they're passing each other up close at high speeds...
... or overtaking while one plane is upside down...
...or simply flying in close formation...
...these pilots are spectacular. Here's to the United State Air Force Thunderbirds Team.
And congratulations to the United States Air Force Academy class of 2010!

Monday, May 24, 2010

My World Tuesday - Tennis and Inflatable Buildings

My son plays tennis, and one of the places that holds regular tournaments is the local Flying Horse club. The indoor tennis there is held in what is basically a big inflatable building. A concrete base forms the foundation, and then the building is blown up on top of that. Huge fans run constantly to keep the air pressure inside the building higher than the outside air pressure; this keeps the roof from falling in. In this first shot you can see the curvature of the building and the entrance, which is a rotating door that serves as an air lock.
Thick cables anchor the bubble to the foundation to keep it from flying away in strong winds.
Inside you can see the lights hanging from the roof, lighting the four full-sized tennis courts. When the wind is strong, these lights swing back and forth as the roof moves.
The roof curves up, and a curtain is hung from the ceiling so people can walk between the courts without getting hit by tennis balls.
These indoor tennis bubbles are springing up all over the place in Colorado, my guess is that they are cheaper to build than a steel and concrete structure. That's a part of my world for this week, for other interesting posts, visit the main My World Tuesday web page.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Scenic Sunday - Royal Gorge Bridge Views

First, noel mentioned that the margins in my blog are getting cut off, and I'm wondering if this is something other people are seeing? If so, what browser and operating system are you using? The blog appears fine on my PCs in Explorer 8 and Firefox, but if there are problems I'd like to fix them.

It doesn't get too much more scenic than this. Here are some views, all taken while on the Royal Gorge Bridge. The river over 1,000 feet below is the Arkansas.
This one is looking straight down between two planks of the bridge, clearly showing the river and the railroad that runs next to it.
And finally, looking between the bridge and the cable.
I love places like this!
Scenic Sunday

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Skywatch Friday - Sun, Storm, and Rainbow

Believe it or not, despite all my pictures of snow and storms, the weather here is usually very nice. We get 250 to 300 sunny days a year, and my first set of four photos shows one of those beautiful days from this past Sunday when I took Socks for a walk in Fox Run Park.
In the spring and summer, it's common for storms to form in the afternoon on these sunny days. You can see some distant clouds in this second shot.
The storms often form over Pikes Peak, as seen in these next two photos, still taken during that same walk. That's why I usually hike in the morning, as the storms won't have formed yet.
I have to keep up my reputation for posting bad weather pictures, so here's one from a couple of days ago, a classic anvil thundercloud seen in the distance while another storm was forming overhead.
And finally, a rainbow after the storm had passed. Rainbows are not uncommon, as the evening sun almost always shines after the storms move away from the mountains. Occasionally there's a fantastic full double-rainbow; this one isn't one of our better rainbows but it's the first of the summer.
Visit the Skywatch Friday page for more sunny and stormy skies.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My World Tuesday - Breckenridge, Frisco, and Tree Buds

I'm sharing several different things for this week's My World Tuesday post. First up are some photographs taken in downtown Breckenridge on a gray day in early April. Rather than show the main street itself I thought I'd show photographs taken looking away from the main street.
Near Breckenridge is the small town of Frisco, and here's a picture of its main street on the same day, with the mountainous backdrop trying to hide in the clouds and fog. I was hoping to get to the town's marina but there was too much snow.
And finally, even around my house at 7,500 feet elevation, spring is finally showing up with the aspen trees budding. This last photo (cropped from a larger shot) was taken on Sunday in the local Fox Run Park.
I hope everyone has a great week, and look forward to reading about other people's worlds on the My World Tuesday home page.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Scenic Sunday - Seattle Pioneer Square

Right in the heart of the oldest part of Seattle is the beautiful Pioneer Square. It's not that large but it's very attractive, with a small park, a couple of old trees, and a few man-made attractions. Here are a few pictures of it for Scenic Sunday.
Nearby is the Smith Tower, a top view of which I posted back on March 13. Here it is from the ground.
Scenic Sunday
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