Up to the very top

This past weekend, I happened to drive through the San Luis valley (south central Colorado), and so was able to wiggle a bit of free time loose in order to see sunrise at Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Up to the very top

Sitting on a dune ridge, looking even further “up hill,” I thought this was a striking sight.  A natural environmental abstract…

So why *did* the elk cross the road?

Apparently to stick his tongue out at me:

So why *did* the elk cross the road?

Or, maybe he’s just a big Miley Cyrus fan?  At any rate, let this image serve as a reminder to always keep your camera in your lap when venturing into an area with active wildlife.  We took a family trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park (in northern Colorado) this past weekend, and not far inside the park’s gate, we spotted this stunning bull elk grazing just off the far side of the road.

By the time I’d pulled over and retrieved my camera from the car’s back seat, our visitor was up on the road, crossing over to our side.  I only had time to fire off a couple of hasty shots (through the closed driver’s side window) before he was behind our car entirely.  Thank heaven for auto-focus.

The elk’s expression is, of course, hardly majestic.  But you know how bad they are about following direction…

Playing with Hyperlapse

About a week ago, Instagram announced the release of their new free Hyperlapse app for iOS. So since we were headed to Ohio to visit relatives over the Labor Day weekend, the timing was perfect for me to use some flights to experiment with this new software.

Mind you, Hyperlapse does wonderful things, but it has its limits. It has essentially no settings you can change — you tap on a button to start recording, tap again to stop, then decide how much you want the video sped up before it is saved. The particularly impressive part of this story is that the app makes use of your iOS device’s built-in solid state gyro to help smooth out the device’s motion while you recorded the video.

Here’s a hyperlapse video (10x speedup) of our departure from Denver International Airport:

For the most part, it looks pretty good to me — but you can see some artifacts in the clouds from point to point. The default speedup is 6x, so on the flight home from Cleveland, I used that setting for three hyperlapse videos I made during ascent. Here’s a montage of them:

Maybe this was just a fluke, but the app seemed to do a much better job with things like clouds in the second video. A function of the speedup setting, or just dumb luck? Time (and some more experiments) will tell…

Monet Pool Fiori

Another piece of art glass by Dale Chihuly (two pieces, actually), currently located in the Denver Botanic Gardens‘ Monet Pool:

Monet Pool Fiori

This arrangement is one that absolutely looks better at night.  In the daytime, you’re distracted by people and plants and benches behind the piece (from this vantage point).  At night, the lighting on the glasswork helps isolate it from what would otherwise be clutter.

EXIF info:
Oly 12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 21mm and f/4.5 on E-M1 camera
1/25 sec at ISO 1600

White Tower — day and night

Time for some more Dale Chihuly art glass, as seen at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  My wife and I both decided that some pieces looked best in daylight, while others were real stand-outs when lit up at night — so for comparison’s sake, let’s look at the installation White Tower over a few hours’ time.

White Tower, daylight

White Tower is a fine piece — but in daylight, we both thought it was most interesting up close.  Those magenta spots on the white branches (tentacles?) aren’t painted on — they’re clear areas in a white outer layer, which let the inner color shine through.

Unfortunately, the background is a bit too cluttered to really set the piece off, at least from this angle. Continue reading

Blue Icicle Towers

For the next few months (through November), the Denver Botanic Gardens is hosting an exhibition (part of the Garden Cycle series) of glass art by Dale Chihuly.  When you first walk into the gardens, you’re greeted by this sight:

Blue Icicle Towers

It’s called Blue Icicle Towers, and is one of Chihuly’s new works.  Like most of his art, it’s neither small nor subtle — but it’s an eye-catcher and will leave you wondering just how he and his crew make everything.  More to come…

Room enough for two

This weekend, the local honeybees were giving some echinacea blooms in our yard a good workover, so I thought I was overdue in documenting their work.

Room enough for two

Normally, the bees seem to prefer working solo.  But even though we’ve got a swath of echinacea for them to work on, sometimes they need to “double up” in order to keep working.  I used an Olympus E-M1 and 60mm macro for this shot, BTW.