Photographing some of the gulches, waterfalls, streams, and historic bridges on the old Mamalahoa Highway near Onomea I note that these jungle gulches were often used as dumping spots for cars and trucks.

Numerous engine blocks, frames, tires and axles can be seen in several streams. Most of the vehicles appear to be mid-twentieth century, the remains well weathered by the elements. An engine block among the boulders, an axle protruding from the brush.

One or two? More than that… Just below the bridge at Hanawi there is an entire cliff face made of vehicles, the rusting frames making up the whole side of the gulch. The Jeep grill protruding just above the stream made a interesting photo…

A pile of old vehicles dumped in a jungle gulch
A pile of old vehicles dumped in a jungle gulch

Flowing Water

The flowing stream. An easy and fun shot that should be in any photographers skill set. Not only a pretty shot that captures the feel of a flowing stream, but a shot that teaches a little basic photography in the taking.

Hamakua Stream
A stream tumbles through boulders on the Hamakua Coast
This shot was taken at the Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Gardens at Onomea Bay north of Hilo. Several typical rainforest streams tumble through the gardens flowing to the cove below. This is a shot that can be taken thousands of places on this rainy coastline, there are hundreds of streams and waterfalls to choose from. This one happens to have a little bridge to keep your feet and tripod dry.

While I was taking this shot another couple was taking the same photo beside me on the bridge. They wondered what I did to get the shot they saw on my screen. I offered them a turn on my tripod for a moment and talked them through the steps needed to create the flowing stream look. The Canon Rebel T5i they were using was perfectly capable of achieving the same effect. A minute later they had succeeded, happy with a very pretty photo. I suspect they learned a little in the process.

Continue reading “Flowing Water”

The Transit of Venus

We did the Transit of Venus right.

The plan was to stream the transit live from the summit. With access to the Keck facilities we had internet, a comfortable break room, and an excellent vantage point from which to view the entire transit. It sounded so easy at first, just put a camera on a telescope and connect it to the computer for the duration. Easy, in concept. The reality? Not so much.

Venus Transit Second Contact
Transit of Venus 2012, second contact at 12:27pm

It was an incredible amount of work. I had spent several days during the preceding weeks preparing the gear for transit. I admit some of that was fun, an excuse to get the gear out in the day and look at the Sun, even photograph Venus quite near the Sun.

The webcast team consisted of three people, Larry O’Hanlon, the Keck PIO, Mark Senft, a volunteer from our astronomy club, and myself. Larry and I met a HQ to begin our drive up the mountain at 8am.

At Hale Pohaku we picked up Mark and enjoyed breakfast. Here we found a massive buildup in progress, a gathering of troops… Visitor center staff, Hawai’i County police and fire, and the Mauna Kea Rangers, all present in force. Stephanie Nagata, the director of the Office of Mauna Kea Management helped man the roadblock. Stewart Hunter, the head of Mauna Kea Support Services with her in an orange vest. Their preparations looked to be necessary, three hours prior to first contact the crowds of transit tourists were already growing.

Continue reading “The Transit of Venus”

Postcard from Alaska – Salmon Run

In a scene lifted from innumerable nature films, a small creek jammed with fish. So many salmon fill the stream that it seems there is more fish than water. Large fish, some up to three feet long, scales and fins turning a dull green as they lose the silvery sheen of life. To see this spectacle in person lends an immediacy and an awe of nature that strikes deep in one’s thoughts. Here life completes the cycle, salmon coming to spawn after years at sea. Returning to the same stream that gave them birth.

Evolution is a powerful force, driven by the irresistible instinct to spawn the next generation, to reproduce so that the species might survive, Even if it means dying in the process. The species goes on in the eggs and sperm deposited in the stream bed.

Salmon Run
A heavy salmon run jams at the mouth of Sheep Creek south of Juneau, Alaska