Al's Photography Blog

Al's Photography Blog
Pikes Peak As Seen From Our House

Monday, October 31, 2011

America the Beautiful Park

For this week's Our World Tuesday, here's a piece of my town, Colorado Springs - in this case, it's America The Beautiful Park, just outside of downtown. My Town also happens to be the theme of Tina's PicStory meme this week. The park entrance has two large obelisks.
There's a plaque explaining the naming of the park - the song America The Beautiful was inspired by the view from Pikes Peak.
 There are views of this Pikes Peak from the park - this was the middle of the summer so there's no snow.
 Parts of it are designed to look like the uplifted mountains...
 ...and the switch-backing trails that cross those mountains.
 The most famous part of this park is the fountain, but I've run out of space for this post so you'll have to come back later to see that. But as a bonus, here's a photo of a bush taken yesterday evening in my yard, showing some of the last of the leaves. I'm surprised there are any left this late in the year, after two snowfalls with more on the way this week.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Portland's Waterfront Park

For this week's Scenic Sunday, here are some photos from Portland's attractive Waterfront Park.
I don't have details on these but all these spots struck me as scenic as I was walking around.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rainy Lightning

It's been a few weeks since I've posted a lightning photo, so here's another one, taken through a sheet of rain. As with almost all my lightning shots, this was taken from my yard. If you're interested in how I get my lightning shots, read the end of the post.
And that's my Skywatch Friday entry for the week.

I often get questions on how I get my lightning shots. It has nothing to do with good equipment or timing - here's how you do it.

1. Most importantly, stay safe. Most of the time, the lightning is in the distance for my photos, but a telephoto lens or cropping make it seem much closer. Remember, lightning kills, something we're reminded of literally every year where I live.

2. Live in a place that gets lots of thunderstorms. It's typical for us to get 40 or more days with thunderstorms a year, and a good year can have 60 or more days. Some of these days will have several thunderstorms. Preferably a good view helps - we have views on three sides of our house. This is the most difficult part of the whole process!

3. Timing has nothing to do with it - unless you're superhuman, you can't react quickly enough to lightning to capture it. Once it's flashed and you've reacted, it's already gone. You'll be taking long exposures and hoping for lightning in the capture; the one above was a 20-second exposure. If your camera has a bulb setting (i.e. one that allows you to press the remote once to start the exposure and again to end it, without presetting the length), use this, as you'll usually want to end it after a good flash, and you can't predict how long this will be. I find that using ISO 100 and an aperture within a couple of stops of 8, something between 15 and 60 seconds usually gives me a good result depending on the ambient light and the closeness of the lightning bolt, but you'll have to experiment. This is assuming night-time photography; during the daytime, you'll almost certainly need a neutral density filter to darken the photo and allow you to take long exposures, or lots of luck. (I had both when I captured lightning hitting a nearby tree.)

4. Because you're taking such long exposures you'll need a tripod. Mine is a cheap tripod, but it works fine. If you're on a tripod and your camera works with a cordless remote, that's worth getting - the remote for my old Nikon D40X costs less than eating one meal out with my wife.

5. Take the photos on the highest-quality mode, since you'll be cropping almost all of them. I use the free program GIMP to crop (and also sometimes sharpen them too).

Good luck! And remember the first item, stay safe.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Paris at Night

Ok, this isn't really Paris. This week's PicStory theme is "gold or silver" and I thought this shot of the Paris Casino's replica Eiffel Tower lit up at night would fit the bill. It's also a part of Our World Tuesday.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Palmer Park Views

A few weeks ago I posted some photos of rocks from Palmer Park. Here are some views taken on that same hike, all from a single overlook. You'll have to excuse the photo quality, as I don't have a very good telephoto lens. First is a wide-angle view of the sprawling city and the distant mountains.
Next is a telephoto view of Pikes Peak. This is the mountain in the center-right of the previous photo.
Here's a close-up of the downtown area of Colorado Springs. I know this doesn't look like a big city, but the area is home to 500,000 people.
Mining has created some scars on the mountains, here's one of them.
And finally, this is the Garden of the Gods seen from a distance.
And that's this week's tour of my adopted hometown, posted for Scenic Sunday!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Aspen Skies

A nearby Saturday hike to the Palmer Lake Reservoirs this past weekend yielded some photos of changing aspens at the lower elevations (around 8,000 feet, or a little over 2,400 m above sea level).
And that's my Skywatch Friday entry for the week. I'll probably save the rest of the fall photos for later in the winter when I'll be wishing for those colors!

Mimmu asked how high the park is where I took those snowy photos last weekend. That park is slightly lower in elevation than our house, which is at 7,500 feet (2,286 meters) above sea level. We're high enough that most sea-level visitors get a little out of breath simply climbing the stairs in our house.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bellagio (Las Vegas)

Going back to Las Vegas for this week's Our World Tuesday meme, here are some photos of the impressive Bellagio Hotel and Casino. I think these also qualify for the Watery Wednesday meme.
Normally that huge pool in the front has an impressive choreographed fountain display, but we didn't get to see it this time. Hopefully we'll be in Vegas again and I can get some photos of it then, or maybe I'll dig out some old ones.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mercer Slough Trail

For Scenic Sunday, here are some shots of a trail in Bellevue's beautiful Mercer Slough Park. I hope you're not getting tired of my photos from this area yet!
 This one makes me think of a trail you might find in the Lord of the Rings.
 They even have boardwalks over the swampiest areas!
If you've got some extra time in Bellevue, I recommend spending a morning or afternoon exploring this park.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Snowy Skywatch

I have a hard time believing that today is my 4th blogging anniversary, but it's true. Thanks to all my followers and commenters, I love knowing that people are enjoying my photography! For Skywatch Friday, here's one more photo from our snowy weekend - if you want to see more, look at the post from last Sunday evening.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mercer Sough Reflections

This week's theme at Tina's PicStory is reflections, which matches the Watery Wednesday meme, so this photo is for both. I thought it a good time to introduce Bellevue's Mercer Slough Park, which I visited when we were in the Seattle area this summer. This large park includes a waterway, swampy areas, and lots of great trails. But first up is a simple reflection taken in the park.
I've got lots more photos to post from this beautiful park which I'll post over the next few weeks.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Snow in the Park

If you saw my blog yesterday you'll know we had some snow; we ended up with about 7 inches, or almost 18cm of the stuff. In the afternoon the clouds cleared up and we had some blue skies, so I took our 4 wheel drive to our local park for some photos. I was pleased to see that the aspen trees still had some leaves, making for some wonderful color.
This is the same place where I posted last week's photos, and it's my entry of Our World Tuesday.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

First Snow

Here's the view from my deck this morning. I always love that first autumn snow.
Snow isn't unusual at our altitude this time of year. But once the storm moves out, those beautiful blue Colorado skies should return for the whole week!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Under the Lions Gate Bridge

I'm going back to the Lions Gate Bridge Vancouver for this week's Scenic Sunday, this time viewing it from underneath. Obviously I'll also be linking this to Sunday Bridges.
I like finding unusual views of well-known places!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


This week's PicStory meme has as its theme Sunrise or Sunset, so I thought I'd combine it with the Skywatch Friday meme and post a recent sunset photo taken from my back deck.
I do love the sunrises and sunsets we sometimes see here!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Local Fall Color

I wasn't able to get into the mountains to see the fall color this weekend due to work. But I did get to walk around our local park, so here are a couple of shots from there taken on Friday evening.
And that's my part of Our World this week, and also my post for Watery Wednesday. Thanks to Arija, Gattina, Lady Fi, Sylvia, and Sandy for running this fabulous meme!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

1970s Bruges

For this month's Sunday Scans entry, here's an early 1970s photo from Bruges, Belgium.
I can't tell you more than that.
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