Category Archives: Photography

Headline of the day II: Destructive narcissism


No, it’s not another Trump tale.

From News Corp Australia:

Tourist destroys ancient statue of king in quest for perfect selfie

The 24-year-old man, who has not been named, climbed up next to the famous statue of former Portuguese king Dom Sebastiao outside a Lisbon train station on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Map of the day: Heat wave fuels a Canadian fire


From NASA’s Earth Observatory:

BLOG Fire map

 In early May 2016, a destructive wildfire burned through Canada’s Fort McMurray in the Northern Alberta region. Windy, dry, and unseasonably hot conditions all set the stage for the fire. Winds gusted over 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hour, fanning the flames in an area where rainfall totals have been well below normal in 2016. Ground-based measurements showed that the temperature soared to 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit) on May 3 as the fire spread.

Satellite observations also detected the unusual heat. The map above shows land surface temperature from April 26 to May 3, 2016, compared to the 2000–2010 average for the same one-week period. Red areas were hotter than the long-term average; blue areas were below average. White pixels had normal temperatures, and gray pixels did not have enough data, most likely due to cloud cover.

This temperature anomaly map is based on data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. Observed by satellites uniformly around the world, land surface temperatures (LSTs) are not the same as air temperatures. Instead, they reflect the heating of the land surface by sunlight, and they can sometimes be significantly hotter or cooler than air temperatures.

The intense heat coincided with a weather pattern called an omega block. A large area of high pressure stalled the usual progression of storms from west to east. In Alberta, that left sinking, hot air parked over the region while the block was in place. But even before the omega block emerged, seasonal data show that winter in Alberta was warmer than usual.

According to Robert Field, a Columbia University scientist based at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, El Niño likely played a role in the warmth. The Virginia Hills fire in central Alberta (May 1998) burned under a similar El Niño phase. “That fire occurred under comparable fire danger conditions, part of which you can trace to El Niño,” Field said.

Fewer people were affected by the Virginia Hills fire, however, because it was located away from a large population center. In contrast, authorities ordered the evacuation more than 80,000 people from Fort McMurray.

BLOG Fire aerial

The second image above shows Fort McMurray on May 4, 2016, acquired by the Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) on the Landsat 7 satellite. This false-color image combines shortwave infrared, near infrared, and green light (bands 5-4-2). Near- and short-wave infrared help penetrate clouds and smoke to reveal the hot spots associated with active fires, which appear red. Smoke appears white and burned areas appear brown. On this day the fire spanned about 100 square kilometers (40 square miles); by the morning of May 5, it spanned about 850 square kilometers (330 square miles).

“There can be bigger fires, but, in Alberta at least, rarely are they so close to so many people,” Field said. He points out that a fire in Kelowna, British Columbia (2003), and a fire in Slave Lake, Alberta (2011), also affected population centers, “but not this severely.”

Also visible in the Landsat image is the fire’s complex pattern, with many active fronts. “This suggests substantial ‘spotting’, where flaming embers are lofted ahead of a main fire, creating new fires, and making it really hard to fight.”

And the deed is done, the last offspring hitched


We know that few things are more boring than looking at pictures of the wedding of folks you’ve never met.

Nonetheless, we can’t resist sharing the joy of the nuptials of the last of our four offspring, Samantha Marie Brenneman, to a high school friend, Kyle Brandon Troupe, the event officiated by a third high school pal, the same fellow who had brought them together on the suspicion that there was, indeed, something there.

The venue for the day was the Bellvue Club on the shores of Lake Merritt, and the day was glorious, as seen from the window of the gallery where festivities commenced:

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, f/4, 4.3 mm

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, f/4, 4.3 mm

Before the main event, Samantha paused for a quick snap by her doting father:

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 500, 1/250 sec, f/4.7, 10.3 mm

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 500, 1/250 sec, f/4.7, 10.3 mm

And bridal niece Sadie Rose, the flower girl, managed to sit still as her floral crown was affixed:

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, f/3.3, 21.8 mm

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, f/3.3, 21.8 mm

On to the main even and the exchange of vows, followed by the exchange of rings:

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, f/5.4, 4.3 mm

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, f/5.4, 4.3 mm

And the kiss of the newlyweds:

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 500, 1/60 sec, f/3.6, 5.4 mm

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 500, 1/60 sec, f/3.6, 5.4 mm

Followed by the reception and dance:

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, f/4.8, 11 mm

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, f/4.8, 11 mm

Off for the day; youngest daughter gets hitched


Here’s a couple of snaps from last night’s rehearsal dinner.

The bride-to-be, Samantha Marie Brenneman, hoists a glass:

29 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, f/3.3, 4.3 mm

29 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, f/3.3, 4.3 mm

And her elder sister’s prodigous progeny, Sadie Rose, won’t relinquish esnl‘s chapeau:

29 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, f/3.3, 4.3 mm

29 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, f/3.3, 4.3 mm

And the earth below: Horizon over the Baltic Sea


From NASA, another spectacular shot from the International Space Station:

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti captured this image while on the International Space Station. It shows cloud cover over England, Baltic Sea and the Persian Gulf. It also displays a golden aurora with a splash of red through the stars during the night of Dec. 15, 2014.

ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti captured this image while on the International Space Station. It shows cloud cover over England, Baltic Sea and the Persian Gulf. It also displays a golden aurora with a splash of red through the stars during the night of Dec. 15, 2014.

Heavens above!: Another spectacular solar flare


From NASA Goddard, another spectacular 4k video of a solar flare.

Crank the video toggle [at the gear knob] up to your monitor’s highest resolution and enjoy:

Program notes:

NASA’s 4K View of April 17 Solar Flare

On April 17, 2016, an active region on the sun’s right side released a mid-level solar flare, captured here by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. This solar flare caused moderate radio blackouts, according to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. Scientists study active regions — which are areas of intense magnetism — to better understand why they sometimes erupt with such flares. This video was captured in several wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light, a type of light that is typically invisible to our eyes, but is color-coded in SDO images for easy viewing.

Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO/Genna Duberstein

The earth below: A satellite Grand Canyon view


From NASA’s Earth Observatory, a segment of a spectacular 19 megabyte montage of astronaut images of the Grand Canyon:

BLOG Canyon edit

The Grandest of Canyons

Grand Canyon National Park stretches 277 river miles (446 kilometers) across the Colorado Plateau of northwestern Arizona, and it averages 10 miles (16 kilometers) wide. But it is not just that spectacular size that makes it a natural wonder. It is the spectacular variety of ecosystems, micro-climates, and life forms that make it the grandest of canyons.

That variety arises out of the depth (or height) of the canyon. From the highest point on the Kaibab Plateau of the North Rim to the water line of the Colorado River, the elevation changes by 8,000 feet (2400 meters). According to the National Park Service (NPS), at least 129 different vegetation communities are found in the park at various altitudes. The dominant ones are the riparian (river) community; desert scrub; pine and juniper woodland; Ponderosa pine forest; and montane meadows and subalpine grasslands. Or as NPS puts it, you can wander from the environmental equivalent of Mexico to that of Canada all within a few miles.

More than 1,700 species of vascular plants—and another 400 of mosses, lichens, and fungi—populate these communities. At least a dozen plant species are only found only within the park. Those plants and trees give cover or food to 362 bird species, 92 species of mammals, and 59 types of reptiles and amphibians. This abundant life spreads across a landscape that is geologically abundant too, offering a rock and fossil record that spans three eras of geologic time. Six million years of erosion by the Colorado River has exposed two billion years of Earth history.

The photographs above and below were shot from the International Space Station (ISS) on December 18, 2009, by American astronaut Jeff Williams. “It was a quiet period aboard the Station, with only two of us—Russian cosmonaut Max Suraev and me,” Williams recalls. “Using a Nikon D2Xs with an 800mm lens—and looking through one of the windows in the Russian docking compartment—I found the Canyon through mostly clear skies. I quickly fired off multiple overlapping frames with the idea to later merge the oblique shots.” The mosaic above was composed from 12 of those photographs. (Click on the link below it to download a full-resolution version.) The other photos are closeups derived from the wider shot.

Williams and the ISS were 650 miles (1050 kilometers) to the southwest at the time, over the Pacific Ocean near Baja. He located the canyon while observing the jumble of wooded plateaus, mountains, and tan desert flats of the western United States. The near-midday sun of winter threw long shadows; combined with the highly oblique viewing angle, the light gives a strong three-dimensional sense that is marred by just a few streaks of cloud.

Grand Canyon is the second most visited national park in the United States, drawing 5.5 million visitors in 2015. The park will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019. The National Park Service itself is celebrating its centennial in 2016.

Astronaut photographs ISS022-E-14078 through ISS022-E-14087 were acquired on December 18, 2009, with a Nikon D2Xs digital camera using an 800 millimeter lens, and are provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations Facility and the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, Johnson Space Center. The image was taken by a member of the Expedition 22 crew.