May 20, 2012

Annular Eclipse as seen from Casa de Carmichael

Tonight, as the sun set over the Rockies, the moon got in the way.  Voila’ an eclipse!  But as the moon is at apogee (the farthest away from the earth in it’s elliptical orbit) it is unable to block the body of the sun in it’s entirety, thus we see an “Annular Eclipse” instead of the more famous “Total Eclipse”.  An Annular Eclipse at it’s peak will form a ring of fire, as the moon forms the hole of a Sun Doughnut.

We here in Colorado were just outside the shadow line of a full Annular Eclipse, that privilege was reserved for our neighbors further to our west in Utah, and New Mexico.  Didn’t mean I didn’t go out and take my best shot at capturing the partial Eclipse.  Here is my result…

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This was a fun challenge to photograph.  Hope you enjoy…

May 20, 2012 in Current Affairs, Just Plain Cool, Photo, Science | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

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April 29, 2012

Shuttle Enterprise fly-by and Pneumonia

Just two highlights of an interesting week in New York.

I was in NYC for the past week taking care of my client obligations… Y’know the usual work gig.  This week however had a couple of added twists.  I already wrote about my trials in simply getting to the Big Apple… It only got more challenging from there.  On day two, I started to notice the onset of what I initially thought was a sinus infection… Upon my return to Denver and subsequent doctor’s visit I learned that nope… I have pneumonia.

One of the real highlights however of the past week, outside of some genuinely successful and rewarding client visits was that I had the opportunity to witness the last flight of the Space Shuttle Enterprise.  Although using the adjective “Space” in her naming is a bit of a stretch considering “Enterprise” never experienced space travel.  “Enterprise” was the designated test article of the shuttle program, specifically built to test the glide and landing characteristics of the new vehicle.  But still a cool piece of hardware associated with a now bygone era in America’s declining dominance in Space exploration.

Originally Enterprise was scheduled to fly from Dulles where she had previously resided as a major attraction at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Part of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum Complex) on Monday of this past week, however due to the same storm front that forced my unexpected stop in Philadelphia the transport was delayed until Friday.  Enterprise was being flown to New York as the first step in transferring her from the Smithsonian to her new home onboard the USS Intrepid Museum.  The Smithsonian had received the Shuttle Discovery the week before and was swapping exhibits.

So on Friday morning I identified the flight route the Shuttle and Shuttle Transporter (a modified Boeing 747) were to fly and realized that she would be coming right up the Hudson River doing a U-turn around the Tappan-Zee bridge, about 4 miles from our office.  So there was a good chance I would be able to see this historic flight for myself if I was able to attain a good vantage point.

As the time approached, I stepped into my Boss’s office (the CEO of our company) and said, “Hey, y’wanna go see the shuttle fly by?”  To which, my slightly confused boss said “Sure!”

Out the door we went, looking for a good vantage to a westerly view.  The top level of the Parking garage at the White Plains Train Station was the perfect spot, if we couldn’t see her from there, we wouldn’t see her from anywhere in the town. We hustled on over and got to the top level right on time, we were up there only a couple of minutes when from the south approached the mated pair, Shuttle and 747.

Unfortunately I didn’t have my Big 300mm lens attached, but I did the best I could with the 200mm I had.  This first image gives you an idea about our general view…

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Then with the zoom capabilities I did have I captured these…

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And then as she began her final turn back to the south and her eventual home in Manhattan…

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I was glad I had the opportunity to witness this first hand, yet saddened by the fact that the United States appears resigned to no longer leading the way in Space and Science exploration…

At the arrival of the Shuttle Discovery at Dulles last week, a young child asked a current NASA astronaut what he should study in school in bettering his chances of one day becoming an astronaut… the Current Astronaut simply replied “Study Russian”.

Ouch… Truth hurts…

April 29, 2012 in Aviation, Current Affairs, Just Plain Cool | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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April 01, 2012

Shot of the Night!

Spent my day relaxing on the veranda here at Casa de Carmichael…  It was a balmy 80+ degrees here in the Denver area, and I didn’t have a tee time. So I resigned myself to being a lazy bum under the blue skies. 

I did, as I often do, have my Nikon sitting next to me incase the world passing by presented opportunity.  Actually I was presented with a few this afternoon, mostly shots of the cats, an occasional bird or two and one pissed off squirrel that Scrunch (my cat) had tree’d.

But much of my attention was drawn to the blisteringly clear blue today, I watched as countless airliners flew over on their approach to Denver International Airport (KDEN… or DIA to the locals).  As the half moon climbed overhead I noticed once again that the approach path followed by the aircraft was nearing an intercept course with the moon, which would present another opportunity for one of my usual moon crossing images. I’ve taken a few of these in my history as a photographer, but they are always a fun challenge.

I must have waited and shot dozens of planes as they came close but never quite crossed the moon.  Day moved into dusk and I was hoping to get a good image of a plane, highlighted by the sun crossing the moon’s path, but alas it was not to be… (A number came close… but just not there).

It was getting dark now, and my chances for my desired shot were rapidly decreasing with each minute after the sun had bid its farewell.  I was about to pack it in for the evening when I saw a behemoth of a bird (a Boeing 767) approaching from the southwest.  I thought, well I’ll give one more try. 

I altered my settings on my camera to be able to take the shot handheld, and expose properly for the moon’s brightness against a darkening sky.  I advanced the ISO to 1600 to allow for a 1/200 second of a shot to reduce as much motion (my motion that is) blur in the resulting shot.  I focused on the approaching plane noticing that indeed it was looking promising for passing across the moon’s face.  But damn that plane was dark… I heard the voice of the wingman in Star Wars ringing in my ears… “Stay on target…” I continued to pan with the plane… and as I saw the glow of the moon enter my view I squeezed the shutter in multi-shot high frame rate mode… all 6 shots per second of it! 

And sho-nuff!  Bagged me the image I was seeking!  Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Plane Crossing the Moon

I know it’s a little dark, but again I was exposing for the moon, not the plane so the details of the 1/2 moon are prevalent.  Besides, it was more night than dusk by this time!  Below are the sequenced shots leading up to and following this one… (each has been lightened a bit so you can more clearly see the plane as it approached).  I really liked shots 5, 6 and 7.

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And there you have it.  Love that Nikon by the way!  9 shots in rapid succession, low light an all!

April 1, 2012 in Aviation, Just Plain Cool, Photo | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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February 20, 2012

President’s Day Photo Safari and the Bird–Dogfight!

I had the day off today… Ginger, did not… So I had to entertain myself.  And since the local fairways still have anywhere between 2-6” of the white still on them, golf was pretty much out of the equation.

So, I picked up the Nikon, a couple of lenses, and out I went. 

It was the tale of two subjects today, Birds and Trains.  Don’t ask… I have no idea how those relate in any way shape or form except to say, they both ended up at the business end on my focus.  This post will be dedicated to the birds part.

I first started my day at the south end of the “Mary Carter Greenway Trail” along the South Platte River.  Much to my dismay there was not too much there that I found captivating.  After strolling along the river’s edge for about an hour will little to show for my efforts except muddy shoes, I headed back toward the car along the bike path.  I spied a small pond (Red Tail Lake I think it was) where a few odd ducks were paddling along.  Not your typical Mallards, so I set up and took a couple of images.

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Pretty cool looking little fella if you ask me… any Anatidae Ornitholigists out there want to enlighten us on the species… please do.

And that was all for the Nature Hike…  Next, off to find me some industrial might!  Trains!  But… as this is the Bird post…  allow me to fast forward in my day.

While I was along the Union Pacific’s Engine Maintenance Yards snapping images of trains, I looked up and noticed a bit of a Dog Fight developing… or Bird Fight if you will…

Appears that a Bid of Prey (possibly an Osprey) strayed into a certain Raven’s territory.

FIGHT’S ON!

Fights on 1

“Jester” begins at the Osprey’s 6 O’clock high… things aren’t looking good for our hero, “Do some of that Pilot Sh!t Mav”!

Fights on 2

Mav sweeps the wings and selects max blower!

Fights on 3

But just as “Jester” shoves the throttles forward, “Mav” pulls the Throttles to Idle, and pops the boards!  (That’s speedbreaks you friggn’ leg!)  Jester overshoots!

Fights on 4

“Mav” sweeps the wings forward, and despite a KO’d Left Aileron takes charge of the fight! Reversal! Commin’ Right!

Fights on 5

Now with Mav on Jester’s Six, Jester starts squawking about the “Hard Deck” or something like that!

Fights on 6

Mav tries desperately not to overshoot his prey, but is finding he has too much grunt on…

Fights on 7

Flaps and Slats!  Try a rolling scissors!

Fights on 8 

Shoot! Too Late!!! Jester pulls in the vertical plane for a High Yo Yo!

Fights on 9

Crap! Damn TF-30s! and their spool time!!!

Fights on 10

When in doubt, maneuver!  Crap forgot about that aileron!

Fights on 11

Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don't fail me now!

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You’re dead kid!  “The defense department regrets to inform you your kids are dead cuz they were stoopid!”…   “Great Balls of Fire!”

Fights on 13

Knock it off!  Let’s go home… Maverick has the lead! 

After this last shot the two birds actually split up the the raven breaking right… What you cannot see in these images (and because he was directly in the sun, was Maverick's wingman getting ready to roll-in for the assist.  Cool stuff in the skies over Denver today.

February 20, 2012 in Just Plain Cool, Photo, Science | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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September 17, 2011

Now that’s a Week of Variety

Finally back at home after  10 days of serious “Jet Setting”. 

Started last Thursday with a trip to Reno for the annual Tailhook Symposium and Reunion.  That whirlwind trip included a trip up to Lake Tahoe, a Winery Tour, a 4 hour Mixer with 3,000 of my closest flight suit clad friends, an awards luncheon where two very close friends of mine – Hans and Kathy Schmoldt- won “Honorary Tailhookers of the Year”, various symposiums, a couple of trips to In and Out Burger, more than a couple of trips to the “At your leisure Beer Taps”, and finally a banquet with 1,800 in attendance where Senator John McCain was the Keynote.  All in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Naval Aviation!  Trust me… a great time was had by all!

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Lake Tahoe Sunset

John McCain and Rabbit at Tailhook 2011

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Then, back home to unpack and re-pack for my trip to New York for work… 

Monday I was up with the dawn patrol, wheels in the well at 0700 for my monthly visits with clients and co-workers.  Non-stop from the moment I touched down until I was once again wheels in the wells headed back to the Mile High City.

In New York I visited Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, White Plains and then in New Jersey I saw the lovely towns of Phillipsburg, Elizabeth and Newark (tongue firmly in cheek for those last two… those two towns couldn’t find lovely if it bit them!)

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Verazano at Sunset

One break from the usual fare of client visits came in the form of a company outing to Citi-Field to take in a Mets Game!  Despite being a bit of an on-again off-again rainy day we had a blast! I had not been to Citi-Field and was pleasantly impressed.  Still can’t get over the air traffic passing in close proximity as they shoot the Expressway 34 approach into LaGuardia.

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werth at the plate

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It was all fun and productive, but lemme tell you, I’m glad to be home…

September 17, 2011 in Aviation, Just Plain Cool, Navy, Photo, Sports, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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July 13, 2011

Silver Lining?

This evening could have turned out to be a real pisser…

While playing racquetball this evening at the Green Mountain Rec Center, there… as they say in the south… “Came Up a Bad Cloud!”  My playing partner Rich and I could barely hear the crack of a 100mph + racquetball against the wall over the din of Rain, Hail and Thunder outside! 

I was dreading heading to the parking lot to see how much my Z4 was to look like a Titleist… heavy sigh…

That wasn’t all… while in the midst of an extremely aggressive rally, Rich’s racquet leash snapped… yeah, he lost his grip on the racquet… let me tell you it was a very strange sensation feeling the impact on my right elbow (yeah the boney part) and seeing the ball float harmlessly over my head.  Talk about not having a clue what the hell just happened.  OW!!! THAT FRIGG’N HURTS!

So after mopping up a little blood, and taping an aspirin to it we finished our match.  For the record I won 4 games to 1 (like you doubted it…).

After packing up my gear, I was filled with a feeling of despair and dread as I walked toward the parking lot.  I expected I was going to have to pull my camera out to take pictures of a heavily cratered Beemer for the Insurance record.  Those stones were quarter sized after all.

As luck would have it… BMW must make there cars outta Teflon or something because there was not one divot in that 4 foot hood line!  WOW!  Things are looking up!

Speaking of “looking up”  I was presented with other photography opportunities.  Rather than explain… I’ll let the images do the talking (or writing in this case).

Denver Rainbow

Denver Rainbow from Green Mountain

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green mountain storm

green mountain view

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And there you have it… Storms don’t always bring bad things.  There is plenty of beauty in their rage!

July 13, 2011 in Just Plain Cool, Weather | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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July 12, 2011

Bit of a Light Show here at Casa De Carmichael

Monsoon season doncha know…

Storm July 2011 Denver

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The air was literally charged…

July 12, 2011 in Just Plain Cool, Weather | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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March 21, 2011

Now That’s What I Call a “Management Retreat”

The beauty of being involved with a small successful company is occasionally we have to get together, away from the daily grind to establish some plans for the future of the company… oh… and take a bit of a breather.

The two senior executives decided it would be good to get away for a bit, and were nice enough to bring the two Junior Executives along…

It was 5 days of roughing it, but hell… I’ve always been know to take one for the team!  Here’s some idea of how brutal our meetings were…

view from the lobby

Yep… 5 days at Cabo Del Sol – Fiesta Americana Resort!  With plenty of activities thrown in for good measure!  Like:

The Beach…

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The Pool!

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The Beach…

Cabo Del Sol Beach

Oh… then of course we had to play golf… 

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cabo del Sol golf pano

And then… back to the hotel… to watch some of the locals swim by…

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All to be up in the morning for the next day’s efforts!

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Four ATV at the Beach

ATV Pano

But again we had to watch how long we let these meetings run so we could make our dinner meetings too…

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Out to see the sights…

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Tip of Baja

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Oh, and whilst we were on our little cruise, wouldn’t you know it? The damn sun went down!

Sunset 1

Ship Sunset

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We just had to head back to the hotel and enjoy the evening…

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Poolside Night

Night Beach

Night overlook

We turned in early in preparation for a rough day… Fishing…

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Oh sure looks peaceful and serene now…

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But once around nature’s natural breakwater… uh… notsomuch!

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However… Sandy and Ryan took it all in stride…

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Me?  I was loving it!  I loved being at sea again!  Especially in 10 footers!  But hell… I had fish to catch!… so I did!

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Not big… But fun!  We ended up catching 3 Sierra Mackerel like these.  I caught one and our “Fishing Virgin” of the bunch Ryan (that’s right NEVER caught a fish before… not even on a pond!) caught 2 more.  (If you look close below you can even see the fish breaking the water near the top of the left image as Ryan reels him in.)

DSC_0083  Ryans First Fish

We got shut out the rest of the day… but that’s ok too… time on the Pacific is ALL GOOD!

One of the most shocking things we saw was as we entered the harbor.  I looked over at another returning fishing boat and was surprised to see something other than a mermaid on the swim deck!

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Yep that’s a full grown California Sea Lion!  Probably in the neighborhood of 4 or 5 Rosie O'Donnell’s… (ok maybe only 2…) but a good 1,500lbs at least!  Once he tired of their boat he made a bee line over to our transom!

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Amazing!  But alas this was not the only native that knew a returning boat often bears great treats.  Upon our arrival at the slip we were greeted by a few pelicans (my personal favorite bird).

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All in all it was a great trip… and I want to thank Sandy, Kevin, Ryan, for a fun and successful first Management Retreat!

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March 21, 2011 in Biographical, Business, Just Plain Cool, Travel | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

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December 19, 2010

My Kind of Christmas Decorating

Have you ever lived next door to the neighborhood “Clark Griswold”? 

Well Ginger and I were out perusing the neighborhood Christmas decorations when I turned the GMC down a particular cul-de-sac.  When, what to our wondering eyes should appear?  But the most brilliant home Christmas decorations EVAH!!!! 

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Not impressed huh?  Oh sure you all think you’ve seen better… well… I’m not talking about the house on the left of this image… nope the winner is the house on the right!

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Still don’t see it?  There on his roof is…

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How perfect is that!!!  Winner! In my book!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

December 19, 2010 in Funny as Hell!, Just Plain Cool, Photo | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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October 16, 2010

Now that’s a Different Perspective

Hmmm, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane has never quite been my cup of Joe, and after watching this, it looks a little more like work than one is oft lead to believe… But… It still looks like a smidge of fun is in there too!

Nice Targeting…

October 16, 2010 in Aviation, Just Plain Cool | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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