Well…not quite daily recently…

Archive for December, 2011

Photo #1142 – 12.31.11

Winter Sunset

This evening, I caught a quick glimpse of the last sunset of 2011…it wasn’t quite a scene like the one above, since it kind of went down above a row of cars and a garbage dumpster, but it was still nice.  This sunset photo above was taken on an early April day, but the bare trees make it otherwise seem like it was in the dead of winter.

So as 2011 draws to a close, I hope you had a great year and are looking forward to what 2012 brings!

Photo #1141 – 12.30.11

Grand Turk from Above

I cannot recall how tall our cruise ship was (although I believe about 11 stories), but while it was docked at Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos, I’m pretty sure it was the tallest structure on the island.  As we departed the island for our next destination in a Bahamas cruise, we enjoyed some great views of the island and its bright blue surrounding waters.

Photo #1140 – 12.29.11

  Buttermilk Falls in the Adirondacks

The name “Buttermilk Falls” seems to be a quite popular name for waterfalls…I’ve been to three different ones in the NY/NJ area and know of at least two more that I haven’t visited yet.  I don’t quite know what flowing buttermilk looks like, but I guess some waterfalls probably do look a little like frothy buttermilk.  This Buttermilk Falls is located in the Adirondacks along the Raquette River near Long Lake.  It is a pretty popular waterfall due to its proximity to a major road, but when Heather and I visited on a rainy autumn day, it was just us and the raging waters of the falls.

Photo #1139 – 12.28.11

Oxeye Macro

After posting a photo yesterday of arguably the second largest object in our solar system, I figured I would follow up with a photo of something much, much smaller.  So here is a close-up shot of the stamen of an oxeye daisy that is still wet from the morning dew.

Photo #1138 – 12.27.11

The Galilean Moons of Jupiter

This photo of mostly blackness was taken back in November and includes a few notable points of light.  The big circle in the middle is our solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter.  At last count, Jupiter has 64 moons orbiting the planet, but only 4 of them, the Galilean moons, are large enough to be able to spot with binoculars or small telescope…or a good zoom lens attached to a camera!  Right next to Jupiter on the photo above are 3 small circles, and these are 3 of the 4 Galilean moons that were first spotted by Galileo Galilei in 1610.  From left to right, these are Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa (the 4th, Io, was passing in front of the planet at the time).  You might notice that Ganymede is slightly larger than the others, and this is appropriate because it is the largest moon in the solar system and is actually larger than the planet Mercury.

I hope you enjoyed today’s astronomy lesson!

Photo #1137 – 12.26.11

Snow-Draped Wheaton Mountian

Mid-morning in the Wheaton River valley during an early Yukon spring day like the one above was a delightful time of day to be out and about.  The chilly nighttime temperatures warmed up quickly once the sun rose above the mountain ridges, and the beauty of the surroundings was heightened by the brilliant blue skies, blinding white snow, and deep green tree cover.  We never had an opportunity to climb up to the top of Wheaton Mountain (although I did see some photos that our Yukon friends had taken from up top), but it sure did look great from below.

Photo #1136 – 12.25.11

Merry Christmas from Two Tree Huggers!

From Heather and I, Merry Christmas to All!

Photo #1135 – 12.24.11

Christmas with Santa, 1986

Ya gotta love old Polaroids!  These three Polaroids were taken on December 23, 1986 as the three of us made our final pleas with Santa to bring us some awesome toys.  I guess Michael was almost too much of a big boy for this Santa lap business, as evidenced by his non-sitting stance and hands in his coat pocket look.  Kristin was all smiles, thinking about the Cabbage Path Kids and Barbies she’d be unwrapping soon enough.  As for me, with my favorite Oscar the Grouch knit hat and awesome velcro sneakers, I was probably just thinking how much longer I’d have to sit on this guy’s lap…and why are my legs so cold all of a sudden?

Photo #1134 – 12.23.11

Mickey on the Tree

These Mickey and Minnie ornaments (Minnie is somewhat visible in the background) might be the smallest ornaments on our Christmas tree…the regular-sized hook from which Mickey is hanging should give a good idea of scale.  This is one of a number of photos I took experimenting with different lenses and flash units, using the ornaments, tree, and other decorations to try out various techniques.

Photo #1133 – 12.22.11

Desolate Winter Swamp

At 12:30am EST this morning, the Northern Hemisphere witnessed the changeover from autumn to winter (well, most people reading this were likely asleep…but I’m sure there were plenty of other witnesses around the world).  Last year, this event was heralded by a really cool lunar eclipse {check out my time-lapse video — photo #780}, but there weren’t any major happenings this year.  The arrival of the Winter Solstice means that today will be the shortest day of the year…and also that the daylight hours will now increase for the next 6 months!

But for now, to celebrate the arrival of winter, here is a photo I took during a January hike in High Point State Park.  Aside from the sunshine and brilliant blue sky, the lifelessness and frozen ground cover certainly embody the spirit of the winter season.

Photo #1132 – 12.21.11

Crescent Moon and a Purple Fog Sunset

This past July, we enjoyed some great weather while camping out for a weekend up in New York state.  The days were nice and warm, and the nights cooled off enough to make you not want to leave the warmth of the nightly bonfire.  One evening, we were treated to a pretty sunset of oranges and purples that included a crescent moon.  As the sun went down, a strong temperature inversion created a mass of heavy, damp air in the valley of our campground, allowing me to capture the photo above of the sky, moon, and fog behind a silhouetted tree in the foreground.

Photo #1131 – 12.20.11

Off to the Races…the Steam Engine Races

If you’re ever in northwestern Kansas around the last weekend of July, I’d highly recommend checking out the Tri-State Antique Engine & Thresher Show in Bird City, Kansas.  From thrilling steam engine races (maybe thrilling isn’t the right word, but still exciting), to parades of antique farm equipment, to all kinds of delicious food, it’s guaranteed fun, Kansas style.

By the way, I think it was the little guy in the foreground that claimed victory in this race…although the big one right in the middle gave him a good run!

Photo #1130 – 12.19.11

Bottlenose Dolphins at the Jersey Shore

I’m not quite sure how common dolphin sightings are along the beaches of New Jersey…but I do know that this past August was the first time I saw dolphins while hanging out at the shore.  I snapped this shot of three bottlenose dolphins as they swam parallel to a short stretch of Point Pleasant Beach.  As they kept surfacing and going back under, you could see everyone on the beach looking around to see where they might pop up next.  For me, it was a pretty good exercise in keeping both eyes open behind the camera – one looking through the viewfinder and one scanning the waves for their short appearances.  They stuck around for a few minutes and then disappeared into the depths…or moved along to the next stretch of crowded beach.

Photo #1129 – 12.18.11

Jada Claus

Last Christmas, little Jada was having a good ol’ time with her presents…not so much with the contents, but rather the wrapping paper and pretty bows.  Add a big Santa hat to the mix, and what you get is Jada Claus…she’s got some big shoes to fill, but I’m sure she’ll have no problem, especially since she is already armed with a couple of bows to put on presents.

Photo #1128 – 12.17.11

Wheaton River Cabin in the Summer

While I think I preferred staying in this cabin during the winter {photo #6}, it was still such a gorgeous location in the summer.  This tiny cabin was actually rather spacious inside, or at least it seemed like it was because it was pretty open.  It offered most of the basic amenities…kitchen, stove, bedroom, loft with a futon, kitchen table, and an outhouse off in the forest a bit.  And between the mountains all around and the bubbling river right in front of the cabin, we couldn’t have asked for more tranquil surroundings.

If you happen to be taking a trip up to the Yukon Territory any time soon, I’d definitely suggest staying here!

Photo #1127 – 12.16.11

Frosty Autumn Morning

I must say that this is probably my favorite close-up photo of a leaf…not that I have all that many leaf photos to begin with, but this one is almost certainly my favorite.  I love the crystalline texture of the icy frost mixed with the veiny structure of the underlying leaf, as well as the orange hue and a bunch of tiny reflections of the rising sun in the out-of-focus leaf area.

Photo #1126 – 12.15.11

South-Facing View from Overlook Mountain

My first hike in the Catskill Mountains of New York was quite memorable, and certainly photogenic.  A combination of freshly-fallen snow, late-October fall foliage, and a clear blue sky made for some outstanding views atop the fire tower on Overlook Mountain…it certainly made the 2.5 mile climb up the mountain entirely worth the effort!  The large Ashokan Reservoir is visible to the left, with other peaks in the central Catskills visible to the right.

Photo #1125 – 12.14.11

Looking for Santa

Leggs is a big fan of Santa Claus…especially when he passes by each year on a big red fire truck!  On this particular Christmas morning, Santa had already come and gone, but it seemed like Leggs was still looking for him outside.  Or, he may have been looking at a deer, which is a more likely explanation.  One thing he certainly was not doing was posing in front of the tree with a santa hat on his head, which is why the hat is on the ground in the photo above.

Christmas will be here soon enough, and Leggs cannot wait!

Photo #1124 – 12.13.11

9-Minute Star Trail Vortex

I’ve had a few different star trail photos on here through the years, and while this one might not have very long trails like some others, I think it has just long enough trails to create a circular vortex centered on Polaris.  The amount of stars visible in this upstate New York sky on a clear July night this past summer was astounding.

Tonight and tomorrow morning is the peak of this year’s Geminid meteor shower.  While this star trail photo does not contain any meteor streaks, in past years, I have captured a few photos of passing geminids {photo #395}.  Tonight, with the nearly full moon, cold temperatures, and small rate of meteors per hour, I didn’t feel like attempting any photos.  I did, however, spot a nice meteor zipping right through the constellation Orion, so be sure to keep your eyes on the night sky for your chance to see a geminid (sometimes, you can still see a few a day or two after the peak, so keep watching!).

Photo #1123 – 12.12.11

COOOkie Monster Googly Eyes

How can you turn boring blue cupcakes into fun and amazing blue cupcakes for a kids birthday party?!  Simply get some marshmallows and chocolate chips and decorate the cupcakes with some super googly Cookie Monster eyes!  Kristin prepared these particular cupcakes for Jada’s 2nd birthday party, and not only did they look and taste good, but they left everyone’s mouth and tongue completely blue…what more could a kid ask for??

Photo #1122 – 12.11.11

Blue Sky Over Lake Rutherford

One of my favorite places to hike is around the shores of Lake Rutherford in High Point State Park, right near the highest point in New Jersey (the High Point Monument is actually just barely visible on the horizon just left of center…don’t worry if you cannot spot it since it blends in with the sky…).  There is a marked trail that passes near one side of its shore, named the Iris Trail, and there is a separate unmarked trail on the other shore, which is where this photo was taken.  I last visited the lake in the beginning of October and was treated to some nice fall foliage on a beautifully clear day.  It’s also a nice place to hike in the winter {photo #633}, so maybe I’ll get back out there again soon for some frozen lake photos!

Photo #1121 – 12.10.11

Persian Silk Tree Stamen

The Persian silk tree, commonly referred to as a mimosa tree, has some pretty neat flower structures that form white and pink puffs of these long filaments.  The tree is native to eastern Asia and is an invasive species here in the eastern U.S., although it may still be available from nurseries as an ornamental shrub despite its invasive behavior.  From these pink puffs, to fern-like leaves, to big seed pods, the Persian silk tree is full of interesting features that set it apart from most native trees in the area.

Photo #1120 – 12.09.11

Spot the Mountain Goats

How many mountain goats can you see in this photo?  If you said two…you’d be wrong (so I hope you said three).  Mountain goats seem to be a pretty common sight in certain areas of Glacier National Park, including this stretch along Going-to-the-Sun Road near Logan Pass.  They’ve been known to walk right up to cars and wander through the nearby parking lot, and I’m guessing they’ve distracted enough drivers to account for at least a few fender-benders.  They’re pretty cute…so how can you not be distracted!

Photo #1119 – 12.08.11

Winding Adirondack Road

This winding road was quite long, or it at least seemed long as Heather and I drove along it deeper and deeper into the forests of the Adirondacks.  We were near Shelving Rock Mountain on the eastern shore of Lake George, and this photo was taken just after we had reached the end of the drivable portion of road and started our return trip to civilization.  It was nice and quiet, aside from a bit of a babbling brook nearby, and the mid-October foliage looked great amongst the evergreens.