Helen Balloon Festival

Joyce and I went out at 0-dark thirty yesterday to see the Balloon Festival in Helen, GA.  The event was scheduled to start at 6:30am and it took about an hour and a half to drive there so, that tells you when we had to leave.

We had  a great time meeting up with the North Georgia Photography Club and watching as the crews laid the balloons out, filled them with hot air and launched.  It was beautifully colorful and lots of fun to see.

I only got part way through my post-processing since I ran out of steam before it got to be late.  Should have taken a nap in the afternoon but, that didn’t happen.  More pics to come soon.

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

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Can you see the shooting star?

Perseid meteor shower was at its peak this weekend

OK, so I am going to have to accept that I live in a large suburban city and the sky is never going to be truly dark.  None the less, we went out on Saturday night to try our luck at seeing the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. We got lucky in that, the clouds which were covering the sky earlier cleared but we just couldn’t get everyone in the city to turn their lights off.

There is actually a meteor trail in this shot in the lower section between the trees.  Joyce saw one bright one streak across the sky (of course, I missed it) but that was all the show that we got.  Still, it was a beautiful night and other than a sore neck and a little lost sleep, we enjoyed seeing the stars and wondering at the vastness of the universe.

Nikon D7100
Tamron 10-24 Di II LD SP AF
10mm at f/3.5 – 13 sec – ISO 2000

Milky Way over the Blue Ridge

A little hazy and cloudy but still a good sighting of the Milky Way

Since our mountain trip with the  North Georgia Photography Club was intended as a night-time star shoot, I had to post one Milky Way image.  I almost gave up on our chances here due to all the clouds that came close to covering the sky at sunset.  I decided to make my way back down to the parking area where Joyce had decided to stay with a few others.  We had a good view of the Milky Way from there on our previous visit but I really thought this was when we would be saying good-night and heading out.

The small group that was waiting in the parking area were more positive than I and they convinced me to wait it out for a while.  As it turned out, the sky cleared up mostly but it was still hazy and clouds crossed over the Milky Way at times.  We also got a fair amount of light pollution from Blairsville, Helen, Young Harris and Hiawassee in the surrounding areas. All that said, it was still amazing to see all those stars and we could actually see the Milky Way with the un-aided eye.  Joyce also saw several shooting stars but I always seemed to be looking the wrong way for that.

It was pretty cool when the sun went down which was a great feeling compared to the sweltering weather back in Atlanta.  Have to keep this place on the list for night-shots and find a time of year when the skies are more likely to be crisp and clear.  Really enjoyed the outing and meeting up with my NGPC friends.

Milky Way over Blue Ridge
Brasstown Bald Mountain
Towns and Union Counties, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
10mm at f/4.5 – 30 sec – ISO 1600

#MilkyWay #nightphotography #stars #galaxy #Georgia #BrasstownBald #BlueRidge #Appalachian #mountains #southern #photography #WithMyTamron #Nikon

Sunset from the Summit

Mountain sunsets are gorgeous and clouds add a lot of drama to the sky

If you haven’t been to Brasstown Bald, let me tell you a few things.  First, this is the highest point in the State of Georgia.  Second, you get great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from here.  Third, the climb up to the summit from the parking lot is pretty steep!

Once you get to the top though, it is worth the effort.  Joyce and I made the trip to do some night-time photography with the North Georgia Photography Club here.  We were hoping for beautiful clear skies away from the city lights.  It wasn’t looking like we would get the clear skies when sunset rolled around.  This made for a stunning sunset with all the color and light reflected off the clouds but made me think the stars would be hard to see.

There were a good number of photographers out on the observation platform to watch this gorgeous event.  We all marveled as the sky was painted in vibrant hues and even the Blue Ridge mountains were tinted in red, orange, and yellow.  It was an amazing sight.

Sunset from the Summit
Brasstown Bald Mountain
Towns and Union Counties, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II
10mm at f/20 – 1/30 sec – ISO 400

#Georgia #BrasstownBald #BlueRidge #Appalachian #mountains #sunset #southern #photography #WithMyTamron #Nikon

Desert Storm

It was looking very ominous but we made it to our destination

Don’t let a little rain stop you

This is one of my favorite memories of Arches National Park in Utah.  We took that “short” walk to see the famous Delicate Arch on an evening where we were being chased by a storm.  It was one of those, probably won’t get another chance type of moments.  How could we pass up this opportunity?  When I look back, it was a bit of a miracle that we got there at all.

Bad Information and Determination

It all started out with bad information.  I swear that I read somewhere that the hike to Delicate Arch was an easy half-mile walk.  Anybody that has been here can tell you it is a difficult, steep climb of about 1.5 miles (each way).  Joyce was sure it was going to start raining at any moment but I was convinced that we could make it there and back easily.  I kept walking and walking till I got to a narrow curve that looked like it was going nowhere.

I turned back thinking that Joyce had stayed put back down the slope only to find that she wasn’t far behind.  We convinced each other that we had come this far so, may as well keep going.  It was worth the effort to see this most famous spot in the park.

Unfortunately, quite a few others had the same idea and it was pretty crowded by the arch.

RMNP_May 07 2016_1057
Delicate Arch is surrounded by tourists even on stormy evenings

Rewards in spite of it all

In spite of the ugly-looking weather that was trailing us, we got to one of the must-see places in the state of Utah and ended up with a beautiful sunset on the way back down.  Well, that and aching legs!  Still, it was worth the risk and we ended up not getting rained on during our trek.

Sometimes, I guess you just have to go for it and hope for the best.

Daily Prompt: Storm

Dry Mesa Wash at the approach to Delicate Arch
Arches National Park
Moab, Utah, USA

Nikon D7000
NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
62mm at f/5.3 – 1/13 second – ISO 400

#landscape #photography #nature #travel #ArchesNationalPark #clouds #desert #Moab #Utah #NationalPark #NationalParksService #USNPS

Blogging Challenge: For Posterity – National Treasures

Are you aware of what a gift we have in the State and National Parks in this country?

The Blogging Challenge

As an attempt to improve on my blogging skills, I am trying out a series of challenges provided by WordPress University.  The first of these was titled “For Posterity” and the challenge was to present something that you felt was very important to preserve.

In May, my wife and I went for the first time to experience some of our National Parks in Utah and Colorado.  To say that I was amazed would be a huge understatement.  These national treasures are so special that there are literally no words that do this justice.  At the same time, if we don’t speak out about things as important as this, we are failing to do our duty to make people aware of how glorious a gift we have here.

Becoming Aware

Awareness may be the most important thing that I could hope to pass on to posterity.  Not just to my children but to all children of this world.  This is something that seems to be missing in today’s world.  People go through their day’s in a haze.  A million messages flashing before us on screens small and large and every surface we pass by.  And yet, how little we are aware of.

While in the National Parks, I could see how some people were awed by the grandeur and beauty.  At the same time, I saw careless tourists who raced for spot to spot, climbing over delicate natural formations to make silly faces and take selfies.  Some people were aware while others were not.  Some, like me, felt a grateful reverence for everything from the incredible vistas to the tiny wild flowers.  Others, seem to think this was an amusement meant only for their passing fancy.

If we can not be aware and appreciative of that which is around us, the importance of things passes us by.  Life becomes a progression of titillations.  Always looking for the new thrill but never being satisfied.  This is evident in the “entertainment” that we view now.  Each new show must be more spectacular, more shocking, more ludicrous and by doing so, each thing that was previously unacceptable becomes more common.

A challenge for all of us

I had a challenge to discuss something that was important for posterity.  So here it is: a challenge to all of us.  Can we become more aware and more appreciative of the treasures that surround us in nature and in the people who fill our daily lives will we continue to follow the downward spiral of voyeurism that drives today’s world?

Visitor’s Center Overlook
Dead Horse Point State Park
Moab, Utah, USA

Nikon D7000
Nikkor 18-105mm lens
18mm at 1/125 sec – f/16 – ISO400

#DeadHorseStatePark #Utah #MoabUtah #UtahStateParks #canyons #nature #photography #landscape

Brasstown Bald sunset

When you go for a photo shoot there really shouldn’t be such a thing as just waiting around.  There is always something to see even if it’s not what you planned on going for.

We were waiting for all of the group from North Georgia Photo Club to arrive and for night to fall before we headed up the trail to the observation tower at Brasstown Bald.  So, I wandered around the visitor’s center area and parking lot wondering what to do.  Of course, the sun would be setting now.. in the mountains… Get your camera out stupid!!

Brasstown Bald_2016 07 02_0008

One of the things that I should have paid more attention to was the plant life around the area.  Actually, I was looking at it but didn’t think to try to capture it until it was too dark.  The mountain seems to be covered with rhododendron and one of the varieties was in full bloom.  There were also many other smaller plants in flower but I missed the chance to capture them.  I think another trip to Brasstown Bald is in our future.

Sunset from the Visitor’s Center
Brasstown Bald Mountain
Towns and Union Counties, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di II

#Georgia #BrasstownBald #BlueRidge #Appalachian #mountains #sunset #southern #photography #WithMyTamron #Nikon