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

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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

Morning Dove

This weekend was my first chance to play with my latest toy so, I did a little work on my bird photography skills.  This one was actually a lucky accident.  Joyce and I went out to the Chattahoochee Nature Center on Sunday.  We had planned a road trip but the weather was pretty dreary in the morning so, that got canceled.  When the sun came out mid-afternoon, we headed out to get some exercise and look for photo-ops.

We went by the Bald Eagle enclosure only to discover that the male eagle had been removed and the female was sulking at the far end.  Somehow, a pair of Morning Doves had found their way into the enclosure and were perched near the observation area.  The nice light and close proximity gave me an excellent view and I was able to capture all the detail and coloring of this bird’s plumage.

Not a bird of prey but interesting, none the less!

Chattahoochee Nature Center
Roswell, Georgia

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/11 –  1/125 sec – ISO 400

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

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

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

Sometimes the best place for photos is wherever you are

We can’t always be traveling to exotic locations but there are interesting things right in front of you if you keep your eyes open.

Well, I was working from home yesterday and looking out at the backyard early in the morning.  It has been kind of hot and dry lately so, I decided it was time to run the sprinkler a bit.  In the process, I noticed how nicely my hostas were doing in spite of the fact that I don’t pay them much attention.  With a bit of water sprinkled on the plants, it made a great scene and I had to take a couple of minutes and capture it.

If I had lots of time and had planned on this, I know I could have improved the composition or pulled out my extension tubes and done a real macro but at least I got out and captured a bit of nature’s glory on this last day of June.

Nikon D7100
Tamron 16-300 Di II VC PZD Macro
100mm at 1/250 second  f/5.6  ISO 100

#Hosta #BlueHosta #nature #flower #flowers #botanical #summer #Georgia #south #southern #photography #WithMyTamron #Nikon