Colorado away!

Liftoff of a Colorado-themed hot air balloon at the closing session of the (rain plagued) 50th annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Colorado away!

We haven’t had a chance to attend the Fiesta for years, but this year’s event lined up perfectly with some family travel we had on the calendar. We showed up in town the Friday night at the end of the Fiesta, just in time for the Saturday morning and evening main events to be cancelled due to bad weather (an unusually wet October for New Mexico meant many events were cancelled through the week).

Luckily for spectators and the remaining balloonists, the weather improved overnight, so the Sunday morning mass ascension could still take place. A lot of pilots had given up before that point, so it was a relatively “thin” mass ascension, but we were all happy to see a respectable number of balloons airborne.

OM Digital OM-1, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 II lens
34mm, f/13, 1/80 sec, ISO 200

Looking down on Long Beach

Long Beach, Long Island, New York — as seen from 35,000 feet above:

Looking down on Long Beach

If you were curious, those dark lines converging toward the horizon are the shadows of clouds and haze in the atmosphere, and are officially called anticrepuscular rays.  A little nugget for everybody’s vocabulary…

Olympus E-M1, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lens at 22mm
ISO 200, f/5.0, 1/800 sec.

Scenes from a Colorado overflight

We recently did a bit of family travel — on our way from Denver to Phoenix, we were fortunate enough to have relatively clear skies and a late afternoon flight.  Perfect for some aerial twilight photography of various spots in Colorado and the four corners region of the U.S.

First up for you, Colorado Springs (top of frame) seen over the snow covered Rampart Reservoir, not far west of town.

Over the Rampart

Colorado Springs is one of those places I normally see while driving through (in this case, on I-25) — from that perspective, the mountains form a wall to the west of the city.  But from above, the fact that the mountains are essentially a (tall) rumpled plateau is much more evident.

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Playing with Hyperlapse

About a week ago, Instagram announced the release of their new free Hyperlapse app for iOS. So since we were headed to Ohio to visit relatives over the Labor Day weekend, the timing was perfect for me to use some flights to experiment with this new software.

Mind you, Hyperlapse does wonderful things, but it has its limits. It has essentially no settings you can change — you tap on a button to start recording, tap again to stop, then decide how much you want the video sped up before it is saved. The particularly impressive part of this story is that the app makes use of your iOS device’s built-in solid state gyro to help smooth out the device’s motion while you recorded the video.

Here’s a hyperlapse video (10x speedup) of our departure from Denver International Airport:

For the most part, it looks pretty good to me — but you can see some artifacts in the clouds from point to point. The default speedup is 6x, so on the flight home from Cleveland, I used that setting for three hyperlapse videos I made during ascent. Here’s a montage of them:

Maybe this was just a fluke, but the app seemed to do a much better job with things like clouds in the second video. A function of the speedup setting, or just dumb luck? Time (and some more experiments) will tell…

Leaving Albuquerque

On a recent trip to Albuquerque to take care of some family business, I managed to get aboard a very well-timed flight home on a “puddle-jumper” turboprop aircraft.

Leaving Albuquerque

As we headed north from the airport, the sun was just setting, so I got a nice mix of lighting colors.  And, of course, flying in a small aircraft means everybody gets a window seat.

For locals and the curious, the Osuna interchange with I-25 is about at the image’s center (I-25 runs from the bottom right corner toward left center).

Scooting on around

So I went on a little trip to Texas last week for business, and managed to grab a window seat on the way down.  This gave me a fantastic view when our plane’s flight crew had to play dodge-the-thunderhead a few times on the way.

Scooting on around

This is just one of the beasts we had to work our way around (the orange tint is from the last bits of sunset working their way through the clouds).

Point of focus

Anti-solar rays (a.k.a. anti-crepuscular rays) seen from a jet window off the coast of Moloka’i, Hawaii:

Point of focus

Most of the time when I’m flying somewhere, I’m stuck in whatever seat I happened to be assigned.  But every once in a while, I get lucky.

This was one of the very lucky times.

We took a family trip to Hawaii this past Thanksgiving (for non U.S. folks, it’s a harvest-related holiday in late November).  One of the inter-island flights we were on happened to be very lightly filled — maybe one seat in 5 held a passenger.  This meant, of course, that once we reached cruising altitude, I was free to move around and look for a good photo opportunity.

Since we took off just before sunset, and it had been a hazy / rainy afternoon, conditions were perfect for crepuscular rays.  As it turned out, getting airborne made conditions even better for anti-crepuscular rays — in both cases, parallel rays of sunlight appear to converge thanks to the viewer’s perspective.  In this case, the anti-solar point is just off the island of Moloka’i.