I snapped these photos of a helper we have for keeping the bushes at the back of our lot in check. There are actually 2 of these little guys, and their mom. We’ve seen them a few times this summer. One time the two young ones took turns running through the neighbors swing set. They were dodging back and forth through the swings. Most of the bushes in back are nothing special, but we keep an eye on our lilac bushes, they’ve been fine so far. I really like the stripe down its neck.
This year on vacation to Eagle Crag Lake in the Adirondacks I took my mom’s kayak down to the swamp at the end of the lake. I’ve done it several times and this year decided to bring 2 of my cameras with for some photos. Its a pretty neat place to go. There is no path or road around the swamp so you are really alone. There is a lot of neat plants and wildlife to be seen. I saw several Kingfisher’s hunting for fish. No beaver’s to be seen or heard this year, but I assume they are around. Here’s a few photos I took, and a panoramic as well. Enjoy.
Tracy’s mom has some huge butterfly bushes this year, and they were just covered with tiger swallowtails this year. I brought along my flaky Infrared Digital camera to try and take some shots to see how they look in IR. It was pretty tough, those butterflies would not stay still, and it was difficult to get really close because they just fly away. I was persistent though, and got a few neat shots.
Wow, three updates in one day? I must have a lot of free time, or just catching up over Memorial Day Weekend. Tracy and I went to my parents house for dinner today, and they have a lot of birds that like to show up at their many feeders. I always say I will bring my camera with some time to see what I can photograph, and this time I did. A couple of Baltimore Orioles showed up and I was really impressed with the shots I got. All photos taken with a Canon 70-200mm lens. Click to enlarge. Bird photos can be found in my flickr gallery.
This last photo is of the second Oriole that shows up. He has much brighter plumage.
I have a few more photos you can view them in my flickr gallery.
Tuesday 11/17/2009 Day 5: Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge
After visiting the awesome Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum in Titusville, we headed up US-1 towards the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is closed 3 days before a shuttle launch to prevent people from hiding out to see the launch from up close. The refuge borders NASA Kennedy Space Center, and we were sure to drive down to the beach to get close to the pads, although we had already seen the launch the day before. The majority of the pictures from our trip to Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge are available in much larger sizes in my Flickr photo gallery.
After briefly stopping at the visitor center for a map and directions we headed out to take a few wildlife drives, and race out to the manatee viewing platform. Unfortunately there were no manatees at the viewing area, so we returned down the road and took the Blackpoint Wildlife drive. It was an awesome drive and we saw tons of birds and wildlife.
On the way to the wildlife drive we saw many vultures, some Great Egret’s and some Snowy Egrets.
Once we started on the drive we saw several alligators, and some more birds, as well as an Osprey on one of the Bald Eagle platforms.
We toured the wetland area and saw lots of birds including lousiana herons.
We saw a Bald Eagle land on a far away platform. On the way out we shooed a snake off the road so it wouldn’t get run over.
After doing the wildlife drive, we headed down towards the seashore on a winding road through the marshes. There we got some super close up views of a great blue heron.
Then after rounding a corner we had to stop the car after another alligator was blocking the road. He was huge! There was no way around, so form a safe distance we got out of the car to see him and take some photos before he slid back into the water. A definite highlight of the whole trip.
We then made it down to the seashore where we could see the launch pads at sunset and the beach. It was a great end to the day and to the whole trip.
As always, larger pictures of our full trip to Florida are available from my Flickr photo gallery.
Sunday 11/15/2009 Day 3: Florida Institute of Technology and Cocoa Beach
On Sunday we took a break from our traveling to relax before the shuttle launch. We did go south to Melbourne and the Florida Institute of Technology to walk through their botanical gardens which was nice. There were lots of varieties of palms, bamboo, and lizards too. A lot of the trees had giant pathos plants growing all over them, but the leaves were huge compared to how large they get indoors in Rochester.
For me, it was fun to see lizards everywhere, but I have a hunch they are like squirrels down there to Floridians. I took the opportunity to take some infrared photos while we walked through the gardens, as the palm plants make really stunning pictures.
After we walked through the gardens, we went back to the hotel to spend the day at the beach. There were strong rip tides because of the remnants of Hurricane Ida that went up the coast, but we still did some wading. It was a very rough surf, and you really got pushed around by the waves and currents. But you gotta go in the ocean when you go on vacation, so we did.
As always, larger pictures of our full trip to Florida are available from my Flickr photo gallery. Day 4 includes our photos of the shuttle launch.
Friday 11/13/2009 Day 1: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center
On the first day of our Florida trip to see the NASA STS-129 Shuttle Atlantis Launch, we decided to tour the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center to see the exhibits and take the Up-Close Shuttle Bus Tour of the complex. We knew we were going to be back on Monday the 16th for the shuttle launch, but wanted to take a day on site before the launch day so we could take our time and see everything we wanted to without feeling rushed on launch day. Plus, some of the tours and exhibits might be closed on launch day, and Dad made the great move of getting us Up-Close tour bus tickets for Friday, which promised to get us closer to the shuttle launch (it did not disappoint).
We arrived at the Visitor Center Friday morning and proceeded to walk through the rocket garden. The rocket garden has a collection of the early rockets the United States used to get astronauts and payloads into space. There is a Mercury Redstone, like the one Alan Shepard used to be the first American in Space, and a Saturn rocket, similar to the humongous Saturn V, as well as an assortment of capsules and many informative plaques and descriptions. Dad and I even sat in some of the replicas. It was pretty neat, and tough to get all the rockets into the camera frames.
After viewing the Rocket Garden, we went to the Astronaut Memorial, and saw a brief presentation on NASA today, which showed some live remote camera views of the prep work that was being completed for the upcoming shuttle launch. It was pretty informative, and neat to see. Then we went and saw the 3D IMAX movie about the International Space Station, and it was on to the main event, the Up-Close Bus Tour.
The Up-Close tour was really great and well worth the extra $20 it costs. We got to ride out to the NASA Causeway where we would be watching the STS-129 launch from on Monday. We could also see the Atlas V rocket which was supposed to be launching Intelsat 14 early Saturday morning, and the Delta IV rocket in its assembly building which was to launch later in the next week, but got delayed. We could tell that we were going to have some prime viewing spots for the launch. The shuttle was on Pad 39A, although most of it was obscured because the control structure was in place. NASA Launch Pad 39A, where Atlantis would launch from is 6 miles away from the causeway. Pad 39B, converted for the Ares Rocket Program is slightly farther away. The Delta IV and Atlas V are US Air Force Launch Sites, and not accessible or viewable to the public. Views from the causeway.
After viewing the launch sites and rockets from the causeway, we got back on the bus and headed towards the large Vehicle Assembly Building. We made a right and drove past the standard tour viewing platform (3 miles away) and headed towards a closer tour viewing area. We drove past the 39B launch pad and past a couple NASA crawlers. Then we made it to a viewing area midway between pads 39A and 39B. It was really close. We stayed there a while and viewed both pads. Shuttle Atlantis was on 39A. We also saw a tortoise burying eggs, and a NASA T-38 Jet fighter flew over. It was very close, very cool, and well worth the trip.
While at the viewing platform I was able to use my super zoom lense to get an image of one of the USGS Benchmarks in the excluded camera pad area. Its designation is “KAREN”.
After viewing the shuttle and launch pads, we went to the huge Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB). The VAB is the largest building in the world by volume. It is over 500 feet high, and each star on the giant American flag is 6 feet in diameter. Each stripe is 9 feet in diameter. The VAB was built to assemble the huge Saturn V rocket. Today’s shuttle is half that size. When we visited, vultures were using the heat waves off the building to soar. More info on the VAB is available on Wikipedia.
We did a drive by of the really loooonng NASA landing strip after our stop at the VAB. It was not very exciting, just a huge runway.
After the runway drive-by we ended our bus tour at the Saturn V building. This rocket is huge! To big for my zoom lens, so I’ll have to wait for some pictures from Dad to post here. It was neat to see the rocket, touch a moon rock, and get a bit to eat. The Saturn V building is near the bleachers where the extended family of the astronauts get to view the launch. More info on the giant Saturn V rocket is available on Wikipedia.
After the bus tour, we returned to the visitor center and rode the NASA Launch Experience, which was amusing, and toured the shuttle bay in their full size shuttle on sight. Then it was back to the hotel. The Intelsat 14 satellite was due to blast off on the Atlas V rocket we saw earlier at 12:48am that night. So we got some rest and went out to the beach at 12:30am to watch the launch. Unfortunately unknown to us, the launch was scrubbed at 12:35am and we ended up staying out on the beach until 2:15am before giving up on it that morning. Doh!
As always, larger pictures of our full trip to Florida are available from my Flickr photo gallery. Day 2 includes our trip to Daytona Speedway.
I had a little time this afternoon to play with some of the photos we have taken recently. I have some pictures to share from Tracy’s trip to Millinocket Maine to visit her grandparents, and from my trip to Letchworth State park to try and see some fall foliage (or foilage as Marge Simpson calls it). I was a bit late to see the best fall colors, but it was 65 degrees and sunny at the end of October, so I wasn’t complaining. Tracy took some really great panoramic photos from up in Maine. They are viewable in the panoramic photo gallery.
Now here is one of the neat panoramic photos Tracy took in Maine. Every winter Ambajejus Lake near Millinocket Maine has its water drained. If you look carefully at this photo, you can see Mount Khatadin in the background, bottles used as floats to protect boaters from submerged rocks, a green pickup truck on the beach, and the green “sea wall” that denotes the beach area. Also note the fantastic fall colors.
I’m still having fun with our new camera, and I saw this grasshopper on the way out the door the other morning. So what better way to test out the extreme zoom than to try this…
Well August is traditionally a vacation month, and so far this month I’ve been to Saratoga twice and spent a week in the Adirondack Mountains near Tupper Lake. Too many photos to handle. For now I will direct those interested in seeing Horse Photos from Saratoga to view them in my Flickr Gallery.
I have added a few photos to the Infrared Photo Gallery as well, including this image of a snake sunning itself on a dock in the Adirondacks.