Madeline Arrives

So far is is just windy.

As the first part of the storm pushes ashore on the other side of the island all we are getting is wind. Gusty conditions prevail from Waimea to Waikoloa, about what we would get on a bad day of trade winds. It is enough to bump your car around the road a bit, with gusts around 45mph.

Keck closed up HQ at noon today, sending everyone home. Observing was cancelled last night and is cancelled again tonight. A few support guys went to the summit this morning, checked everything, then left.

While Madeline has been downgraded to a tropical storm, Lester remains a strong hurricane. I am a little more worried about the weather Lester will bring on Saturday.

Hurricane Afternoon
The view from Waimea towards Mauna Kea as Madeline pushes ashore. The cloud bands are just visible as the high clouds on the left.

2016 Parker Ranch 4th of July Rodeo

I love small town rodeos. Fortunately we have the Parker Ranch Rodeo right here, and we have regularly made the effort to attend each summer. The rodeo is a celebration of the ranching history of Waimea, a heritage that is alive and well in the ranching families that still earn a living raising cattle and practicing the old skills.

Paniolos head for the steers in the opening moments of the team mugging event

In past years the public had been allowed right to the rail of the arena at the conclusion of the horse races. This had allowed me to get really nice images of the riders without the fence in the shot, shooting through the rails. The last couple years this has not happened… A problem, I attend this event as much for the photographic opportunity as anything else.

This year I wrangled Deb and myself a couple media passes to the rodeo. Access to the pens, the chutes, and the arena fence… Perfect! The media contact at Parker Ranch was careful to explain the safety issues, no leaning over the rails, nothing through the fence, I can live with the stated rules.

We had a great time. Set up right on the fence for much of the day we had a clear shot at the action. I used a 70-200mm telephoto lens much of the day attempting to catch instants in the action that told the story. A rearing horse, dirt and dust flying under hooves, a rope in the air. The elements are all there, catching them at the right instant is a real challenge for a photographer. With the camera in servo mode I would fire short bursts at what I hoped was the right time. Sometimes it worked. As the memory card filled with over 800 images I found that some actually looked good.

Deb at the Rodeo
Deborah at the 2016 Parker Ranch 4th of July Rodeo

Photographically it was the various mugging events that produced the best images. Team mugging, with a rider and several teammates on the ground wrestling a steer can photograph very well. The junior/senior ribbon mugging event with the kids and adults working together was equally photogenic.

Do not ask me who won and who lost. I really did not care to follow the winners and losers that closely. So much of a good score was really based on luck, did the steer buck or twist at the wrong moment? I just appreciated watching the skill and pride that was on display in these events. A skillful flip of the rope at the right moment, a well trained horse that did just the right thing to support the rider. That is what I enjoy in a good rodeo.

Of course there is the chore of processing my way through 800 photos from the day, selecting a hundred or so to pass on to Parker Ranch. That chore is just about done, I have finished mine, I just need to work through a pile of photos Deb gave me to process and add to the package.

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Mercury Transit

It was a beautiful morning! Alarm set for 4:30am, out of the house at 5am, setup just at sunrise on the old Saddle Road. The sun rose through low clouds over the grasslands of Parker Ranch with Waimea to one side and Mauna Kea on the other.

Mercury Transit 9May2016
Mercury transiting the Sun on May 9, 2016. Celestron C8 and Canon 6D at f/10.
Setting up a telescope as the Sun was rising seemed just wrong. I am used to breaking down a telescope as the Sun comes over the horizon at the end of a night’s observing. It is not often that an observing session results in my risking sunburn!

The seeing was pretty horrible at sunrise but rapidly improved as the Sun rose. As the transit ended the seeing was quite sharp and the photos not all that bad. At least as long as I kept the shutter speeds high. Visually the view was quite nice, a sharp black dot against the Sun, a far cry from the dancing blur you usually see when trying to view Mercury in the glow of Sunset.

Continue reading “Mercury Transit”

A Brilliant Day

It was a rainbow sort of day.

Colorful Commute
A rainbow on the mist over the summit access road
I am not really the rainbow and unicorns sort of guy, I am a bit more prosaic than that. That does not mean I do not notice the beauty of the world around me. Even on this beautiful island there are days that stand out.

After a spell of Kona weather the trades were back with a vengeance, blowing hard. This moved the Waimea mist wall halfway to Waikoloa. The result? Rainbows around every corner.

The first in sunrise light over the Kohala, the second in the mist as the sunlight pierced the low clouds near the airport, more of a fogbow actually. Another in the mist at Puhakuloa along Saddle Road, another on the summit road where heavier raindrops produced a brilliant bow. That was just the morning drive to work, the afternoon produced another set of rainbows for a total of seven, not counting the one I saw twice I as I drove into and out of Waimea.

Yeah, it was a rainbow sort of day.


Processing the photo I realized I could not make it green enough. If I pushed the saturation far enough to resemble reality I would be accused of over-processing the image. Yes, the ranch lands around Waimea and Waikoloa are that green right now.

The normal annual rainfall in Waikoloa is about 12 inches. Over the last few weeks we have received eight inches in our unofficial rain gauge on the front lanai. Normally summer is the dry season here, with most of the rainfall occurring during the winter months. The result is endless green across the mountainside.

As the rains have continued this last weekend, another half inch in the rain gauge, it will stay green. Eventually the rains will come to an and, everything drying out, returning the pastures golden brown again. Then, of course, the mice will come.

Waimea Green
The pastures around Waimea are currently vivid green.

Parker Ranch Rodeo

Growing up in the west I have seen quite a few rodeos. I have always preferred small town rodeos.

Parker Ranch Rodeo
Riders compete in the 2015 Parker Ranch 4th of July Rodeo
I have seen the big rodeos, living in Tucson we attended the Tucson Rodeo several times. Six days of professional level events, riders competing for a chance at the national championships. No question, the competitors were very, very good.

The big rodeos do feature very high levels of performance, the top riders making it look easy. It isn’t of course, but professional level sports just seem contrived to me. Be it bull riding, pro football, or any professional sport, something is lost when it becomes a profession.

Small town rodeos are entirely different. Here cowboys, or paniolos in Hawaii, demonstrate the same skills they use day to day on the ranch. The event may be practiced, but the skills of great horsemanship, roping and riding are real. The scores tell another story, wildly different from rider to rider. These are not polished professionals, these are real cowboys.

Horse Racing
A rider and horse lean into the curve at the 2015 Parker Ranch 4th of July Rodeo and Horse Races
The island rodeos are perfect examples of this, small town rodeos that showcase local ranching skills and traditions.

It has been a few years since we last attended the Parker Ranch 4th of July Rodeo and Horse Races. The last couple years we seem to have found ourselves elsewhere come early July. Last year we were in Alaska when the 4th appeared on the calendar. Not so this year, a couple tickets and an early alarm for a Saturday saw us headed to Waimea.

Good timing all around, a beautiful day with perfect weather for a rodeo. Deb and I moved about, looking for good photo opportunities. Down at the end of the spectator area for the horse races. From there we could shoot the riders coming around the curve of the track. A little elevation was needed to shoot over the rails of the fencing. Unfortunately a barrier now keeps spectators away from the arena fence, this was not there years ago. No shooting through the rail. Maybe a press pass next year?

I have no idea who won or lost, it was just not important to me. Simply watching the skills on display was the good part. Each throw of the rope, the steer going down, the horse neatly backing and keeping tension in a rope without a rider giving directions. Simply impressive to watch.