Hot Air Balloon Launch

It is always a beautiful sight to see hot-air balloons launch in a rainbow of colors into the sky.  Saturday morning in Helen, Georgia, this was definitely the case.  We watched the crews lay the balloons out then use a big fan to blow air in and then the burners to heat the air and make it float.  They don’t all lift off at the same time but drift up one or two at a time for a great scene.

This is also a sport that is very dependent on the weather.  Each time there is a balloon launch, there is a distinct possibility that it won’t happen.  As a member of one of the crews told me, it’s kind of a Goldilocks type thing.  Not too hot or too cold, not too windy or too calm or it is a No Go.  On this morning, things were pretty good but the wind was on the very light side.  If they had been launching for the race, it probably would not have gone off.

The race that is the center of this annual balloon festival is a unique event.  The balloons launch from the city of Helen in the North Georgia mountains, bound for the Atlantic Coast.  There is no pre-determined end location but the finish line is Interstate Highway 95 (I-95) that runs all along the east coast of the US.  The shortest possible distance is 225 miles away but, technically, the finish line could be crossed anywhere from Maine to Florida.

44th Annual Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race & Festival
Helen, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
16mm @ f/10 – 1/60 sec – ISO 200

Pine Warbler

It is amazing what diversity of birds are visible in Georgia and how you see different species appearing in one area and then not in the next neighborhood over.  We went over to our friends home in Alpharetta to see if I could catch a shot of the yellow-variant of a Red-bellied Woodpecker that they have been seeing.  That rare bird did not show but we got a range of other birds some of which, like this beautiful yellow Pine Warbler, I never see at my house in Roswell.

We got a nice variety of birds who came up to the feeders and posed in the nearby trees.  There was also a great symphony of bird calls which ebbed and flowed with the birds moving around.  You could tell if a bird of prey passed by when the songs suddenly stopped and then soon after, the sound would rise and the little birds would quickly re-appear.

I guess this wouldn’t be an exciting Memorial Day for too many people but I sure enjoyed it.

Pine Warbler
(Setophaga pinus )
Alpharetta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/8 – 1/30 sec – ISO 200

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you and your families enjoy the beauty of this season and give thanks for all the wonderful things that surround us.

Since the Bald eagles were not around the nest at Berry College when I arrived, it seemed to be an opportunity to wander the campus.  There are some absolutely gorgeous spots here and since it is Autumn, the colors are nice right now.  I went out to see the Old Mill but stopped off on the way at this lake.

There are two lakes, built by Berry College students, on the road toward the Mountain Campus.  This one is called Mirror Lake while the larger, Swan Lake is just slightly downhill from this point.  The lakes are frequented by geese, ducks and a beautiful white swan as you can see in this image.  The sunlight off the fall colors and the reflections off the lake made for a perfect composition.

Berry College
2277 Martha Berry Highway NW
Mount Berry, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
24mm @ f/16 – 1/20 sec – ISO 100

Look into my eyes

One of the nice things about macro photography is that there is almost no end to subject matter.  This is a basic flower arrangement that I took a few shots of.  The detail of the tiny florets in the eye of the flower and the texture and color on the petals make this a facinating subject even if it is a very common flower.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF Micro-Nikkor
105mm @ f/22 –  1/5 sec – ISO 400

Magnolia seed pod

Not much fall color in Atlanta except for a few spots like these magnolia seeds

I went out in my backyard yesterday thinking that I could pick out some leaves with fall color.  To my disappointment, the leaves were part green, part brown and looking pretty pitiful.  There is a little color out there but it has been so dry in Atlanta that the trees are really stressed.  I did come across a few magnolia trees that were offering up some seeds to keep the species going.

It is not too surprising that the magnolia is still looking pretty good while other trees are wilting.  The magnolia family – Magnoliaceae, dates back 95 million years.  It is very interesting to look at this ancient plant which has many features that are quite different from the flowers and house plants that we are used to.  In this image, you can see the fuzzy covering on the seed pod and the brilliant red of the seeds.

Maybe I will make a trip up to the mountains to look for some good color.  I don’t think we’re going to see much in the city this year.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF Micro-Nikkor
105mm @ f/11 – 2 sec – ISO 200

#nature #magnolia #seeds #macro #macrophotography #detail #closeup #colorful  #Nikon #AtlantaGA #autumn

Sparkling Lime

This one is easy with the right equipment

Here’s another try with my macro lens.  Once again, I have taken instruction on how to do cool macros from Mike Moats.  This is actually easy to do and produces very impressive macros of bubbles.  All you need is a glass, a piece of fruit and some sparkling water.  A little playing with getting the right level of bubbles and lighting that highlights the details and voila!  I like the results.


Go here to see full instructions: Lemon, Sparkling Water, and a Glass


Featured Image:
Macro of Lime in Sparking Water
Nikon D7100
Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF Micro-Nikkor
105mm @ f/22 – 1/3 sec – ISO 100

Full moon over Station Square

Almost made it to the Duquesne Incline but, not quite…

So, for those of you who have not had the pleasure of business travel, let me tell you that this is NOT the best way to go somewhere for photography opportunities!  While we had a successful business trip, I was disappointed that I didn’t get many chances to try to capture more of Pittsburgh while there.  One evening after a full day of working with our customer, we tried to make a trip to the Duquesne Incline.  You see the little blue lights going up Mount Washington in the distance?  That’s it but, this is as close as I got.

Station Square is a shopping complex across the Monongahela River from downtown Pittsburgh on the land that was previously the  Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Station.  You can see the railroad tracks running in front of the buildings here.  These are still in use and we saw a freight train pass by as we were eating dinner.

Unfortunately, the group was too tired to go up the incline by the time we got done with dinner so, I guess I will hope to try again the next time.  From what I can see, this is the ideal spot to see downtown Pittsburgh from.

Station Square
125 W Station Square Drive
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
16mm @ f/3.5 – 1/40 sec – ISO 1600