15 January 2017

A rare example of bad electoral transparency

Observed at the Museum of the City of New York: a Tammany Hall era ballot receptacle of clear glass. Makes ballot stuffing visible, but also makes it easy to see the differently-colored ballot stubs and distinguish them when inserted!

01 January 2017

I'm glad I don't believe in omens

I'm glad I don't believe in omens, and hope today that this disbelief will be justified. (Hey, Enlightenment, I like you.) This morning, I took a New Year's Day walk down some icy refuge trails, and went to see if I could find the Eastern Screech Owl that I'd seen several times in late 2016, always in the same hole at a bend in a tree:

As I approached the site, I ran into a couple also out for walking, exchanged observations about trail conditions, and guided them to the tree nearby in hopes that we'd all spot the owl. It looked promising to naked eyes in the distance, with a patch of similar color visible in the hole, so I mounted a telephoto lens on my camera to confirm and hopefully share the sighting. Well, er, not exactly:

Same hole, same perspective, but a distinctly non-owlish squirrel instead. Has a bird of wisdom been displaced by a rodent for 2017? More news if it happens...

13 July 2016

Distant broadcast memories

I was considering some of my media memories that have persisted for decades. Along with common items like beer and cigarette jingles, firmly impressed into synapses during childhood, I have another that remains memorized in specific detail:

"This is the second network, 6WN, the regional and national station of the ABC, broadcasting from Perth." 

A broadcast program from Western Australia, not even one intentionally targeted at foreign audiences. I remember hearing this announcement on a vacuum tube shortwave radio, early in an Eastern US morning sometime around the upper regions of the 1970 sunspot cycle. It was thrilling and moving in a way that's hard to conceive today, just to be hearing a voice originating from about as far away as one could be on Earth (at least absent a shipboard transmitter closer to a precise antipode somewhere in the Indian Ocean). A signal bounced off the ionosphere a couple of times and made it around the world, back in a day where it was exotic and impressive to be "known internationally". The Internet's fiber strands across continents and oceans have certainly changed things.

05 February 2016

At the end of a snowy day, the sun came out for "Golden Hour"

Nice way to end the day. Almost missed it, but happened to look out at a timely moment.

05 November 2015

The photographer stands tall by casting a long shadow

The sun was quite low above the horizon in the Standard Time afternoon, shortly before sunset. It'd be a reasonable trigonometry problem to determine the exact time given my height, the shadow's length, and solar position data, but there's a good approximation in the picture's metadata and for now I'm concentrating on the perspective and how it appears. It's interesting to see how the legs, lower to the ground, cast very, very long shadows, while that of the head above appears relatively tiny.

28 September 2015

Eclipse viewing

I enjoyed watching the lunar eclipse last night, particularly through binoculars. Photography was challenging, but I couldn't resist trying. First, at moonrise, as our loyal satellite prepared for its, er, starring role later in the evening:
A few minutes into the partial phase, having found that -3 stops of exposure compensation yielded some appealing detail of the lunar surface:
Approaching totality, with one of the nicer examples I can recall of (what I believe to be) lens flare decorating the image. Around this time, I also thought I saw a halo around the moon, but it didn't show up in the collected photos.
And, a very faint moon (too faint for my camera's autofocus to lock: exposure 1 second at f/5.6 and ISO 1600) in the total phase:
Quite a sight, well worth binocular-gazing on the fortunately clear night.