09. March 2012 · Comments Off on iPhone Photo Phun: The Boys at Baseball Practice · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Just a quickie this evening.

Thursdays this month (and much of last month) have been very busy, between the boys each having baseball practice one after another. First Timmy has practice from 5:30-7:30pm, then Jacob’s is one field over from 7:30-8:30pm.

It’s become a tradition — about 8-10 “little siblings” get together to play catch, tag, hide and seek, or some other classic game while the older brothers are practicing.  It’s really cute.

After about a half hour of hide and seek, I looked over and saw a scene that seemed fitting for my Hipstamatic iPhone app

The Hipstamatic app is like Instagram — it filters your digital pictures to look old-school 🙂  It seemed to work out in this scene, so long as you don’t know what the kids are doing.

So…what are they doing????

The boys are watching the 2nd kid from the left play an iPhone app.  Three of the four of them (including Timmy) are on the same baseball team and they were all hanging out while their big brothers had baseball practice.  I believe Timmy told me he was playing a game called Where’s My Water.

I tried to cram my iPhone lens through a fence link to get pictures of Jacob at bat, but it didn’t work so well.
27. September 2011 · Comments Off on Wild Sunflowers Revisited (from September 2008) · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

When I was in Nebraska earlier this month, I was immediately greeted by the wild sunflowers that I loved all over the edges of the highways and empty fields. I had planned to take some pictures but forgot. Oh well. At least I have this blog post from September 2008 to remind me of how pretty they are. Enjoy this “Rewind”:

This type of sunflower is a Helianthus annuus.  The wild ones have smaller flowers (~5″) than the ones you plant for seeds, such as those in western Kansas and Nebraska.

Wild sunflowers are in bloom in E. Nebraska and W. Iowa. They just popped up all over the place, like how Queen Anne’s Lace pops up in PA and WV, and how wild thistle grows on the sides of the highways in NC.

So I pulled a Maryann and pulled over on the side of this country road while driving back from Toys R Us in Iowa and took some pictures.

This is what a single plant looks like…

And here’s a group of them.

There’s a HUGE field near Timmy’s preschool, I should get over there and take some pics soon before they’re over with.

03. September 2011 · Comments Off on Road Trip III 2011: One More Thing · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

When my boys were doing the Turner Field Running of the Bases earlier this month, there was a photographer sitting just past 2nd base taking pictures of the boys.  Some dude handed us parents a flyer with a website and asked us to note the time because the pictures of the kids are displayed by time..

Being the sucker I am, I went to the website…and saw the pictures of my boys…and bought a pair of 5x7s.  I need to get frames for the boys’ rooms, but in the meantime, I’ve scanned them in to share with you.

I’m usually better than succumbing to this.  I’m very good at saying “No, thank you” to these photo offers.  I resist most easily when I’m in the picture looking stupid (which is quite often).  Or if my camera accidentally goes off in front of the computer terminal at the sales counter for such pictures.  Or if the salesman lets you walk around the gift shop with a copy of the picture to take our time deciding whether to buy the picture…and my darned camera went off accidentally AGAIN.  And AGAIN.  (Disclaimer: I may or may not have purchased these hard copies and just took pictures with my iPhone to share them digitally while on vacation).

But this time I did pay for the pictures for sure, since we were back home in FL by the time I could see the proofs.  Enjoy!  And yes, next time we ever do this we will make sure our sons are in real athletic shoes…

16. July 2011 · Comments Off on Howie – Our Photographic Challenge! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
Photo by Fotomom.

While Maryann AKA Fotomom was here visiting last week she took a really sweet picture of Howie in our kitchen.  After she got home this week, she took some time to dress up the picture and wrote a lovely blog post about him and how she made the great picture!

Photographers have been challenged many times with Howie.  Here are a couple of the not-so-great professional family pictures with Howie.

November 2002.

October 2005.

Howie does a good job with sitting still and letting the camera do his thing (hint: just say the magic word, “WALK?” and he’ll look right at you attentively!), if only he showed up better-looking…Maryann got it right by taking advantage of the white-colored setting.

21. June 2011 · 3 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Imagine my delight when I saw N-Scale Magazine sitting in a magazine rack yesterday at the Strasburg Station train store in Lancaster, PA.

And here’s Dave’s super-awesome front cover picture, and inside is his feature article! I wish I could share the whole article here with you, but from our vacation we can’t do it — and instead will refer you to your favorite model railroading hobby shop for the latest copy.

The work Dave had put into the photographs for this article was remarkable. I’d estimate over 1000 pictures, and over 20 hours worth of work staging the shots and getting the color composition right. We definitely used our small, but capable Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS to the max! Our friend Maryann @ Fotomom helped Dave with the photography quite a bit and we’re very grateful for her expertise and advice.

It also has us considering whether a higher quality camera — such as a DSLR — is in order. We discussed it earlier this spring, but it’s an investment that will have to wait until after we pay off our summer travel.

As they say in the Navy (because the Air Force doesn’t have a cool, historically significant saying like this), BRAVO ZULU Dear Husband!

10. May 2011 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 11: Magnolias, Oleander and Other Florida Flora · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

We moved here in November, and by then most of the growing season was over.  So we’ve been greeted with all sorts of surprises over the past several weeks.  I’ve been taking lots of pictures of the pretty flowers blooming around here.

Unfortunately, these past few days all my photography has been with my iPhone camera, which is pretty good quality (for a smartphone camera)…but doesn’t give me the same flexibility as our Canon.  Dave had taken the Canon to Pennsylvania last weekend.

Magnolias are blooming here right now…so when I’m running in the neighborhood, I will pass a magnolia and enjoy the delightful fragrance…that awesome smell of “The South”.  On a run this past week, I decided to snap a few pictures of a pretty magnolia flower.

Any magnolia flower.  Anyone?  Anyone?

Oddly enough, after my run during my cooldown, when I decided to pull my iPhone from the sleeve and get the camera ready, I couldn’t find any easily-accessible magnolia flowers on the couple of blocks near my house.  I saw several in the distance in peoples’ backyards (I don’t walk through peoples’ yards to get photos), or else deep in the woods.

So I gave in — I went traipsing through a wooded lot towards a HUGE tree in full bloom. You can see the tree in the first picture, with the large oval dark glossy leaves.  It smelled wonderful!

I was wearing shorts and a tank top walking through this thick brush.  My skin wasn’t happy with me after this little adventure.

Isn’t it pretty there?  There’s a reason why those creamy white flowers are so popular in hotel room art…

This flower is about the size of my fist.  And it smelled SO GOOD!

I can’t wait to get out with my good camera for some photos!  This simply isn’t cutting it.  We’re totally missing the petal detail here…

As the title suggests, I’ll also be talking about oleander.  The first time I really encountered oleander was in Eastern Florida in 2002-2005, I was dealing with an infant/toddler all the while never forgetting “Oleander is poison!”  There were oleander hedges everywhere!  But I didn’t pay it much mind…

We now have a tall hedge of oleander in full bloom as a boundary between my yard and my neighbor to the right:

For the first time, this week I got up close and personal with these flowers and was impressed with the detail in the blooms! We have white, pink and fuschia flowers.

Who here has read the book “White Oleander” by Janet Fitch?  I remember reading it when it was an “Oprah’s Book Club” selection.  Who remember’s Oprah’s Book Club?  Ha ha!

Loving the ragged-edged inner petals!

Finally, enjoy some other flora I’ve seen around…

Loquats, anyone?  This was in full production on the edge of a house’s yard that I run past at least once a week.  Thanks to a couple of Facebook friends who helped me verify what these are.
Gardenia!  This is in my front yard — I cannot WAIT for it to open!  I’ll be out there as soon as it does — with our good camera!
06. April 2011 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 8: Pretty Camellias · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Today I was in downtown Fort Walton Beach to pay a visit to the local running store. Between the parking lot and the store you walk through a pretty camellia garden. These variegated ones caught my attention.

Enjoy!  Click the picture to see it in better detail.

17. April 2010 · Comments Off on Nebraska Discoveries 11: Flowering Trees · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Today I went on a number of errands, including to our nearby model train store to pick up a boxcar Dave ordered, and to the local large children’s consignment sale that’s wrapping up this weekend. I decided to grab my camera and capture some of the pretty trees that are gracing eastern Nebraska right now. I’m not sure why I didn’t notice these last year — it could be that I was just coming home from my deployment at this time a year ago…and my mind was on other things, like looking at how much my little boys had grown instead of at the blooming trees.

Anyway, I’m definitely now noticing these pretty trees throughout Eastern Nebraska, and I spent several minutes this afternoon photographing assorted trees in our neighborhood, and then later today I was busy uploading the pictures and investigating what kinds of trees I photographed.  I’m no professional photographer, I just wanted to capture some memories of these pretty trees, we don’t plan to be in Nebraska forever.

Really…we won’t.  We really like it here, but I’m afraid we don’t LOVE it here.  We LOVE Pennsylvania…we LOVE North Carolina…we really really really LIKE Florida.  But that’s for another topic….

So first, we have a plum tree in my front yard. The one on the left.  Pretty, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s chosen to bloom BEFORE the tree to its right, which is an apple tree. They’d be so pretty together, wouldn’t they?  The apple tree is covered in buds right now, will probably bloom next week…

From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees

After the tree in my own yard, I drove over to the next block, where there were some pretty trees that reminded me of my college days. In front of my dorm building were similar trees, that bloomed just as we were cramming for finals!  You can see the referenced tree behind these folks barbecuing in August 1991, but since this picture was taken in the summertime, it’s well beyond blooming.  Pardon the confused-looking tailgaters.

From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees

I vaguely remembered that the tree in front of Irvin Hall was a member of the magnolia family (it was nice having a Forestry major for a roommate my Junior and Senior years). Upon further checking, I learned that I had captured two kinds of magnolia trees today…a Jane Magnolia (pink) and a Star Magnolia (lighter pink…almost white).

From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees

Next on our little trip was to the neighborhood park, where we had a great variety of flowering trees — 3 kinds: redbud, some sort of apple or pear blossom tree, and a crabapple tree. I’m having a hard time telling pear from apple blossoms so I could be wrong here with the white flowers.

From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees

Then I headed up the road towards my errands, and I knew there were some bright yellow shrubs that I wanted to photograph.  For some reason I was thinking they were goldenrod, which is Nebraska’s state flower.  I took these pictures all along thinking they were goldenrod, but I was wrong, they’re actually forsythia.  I remember seeing forsythia everywhere in Korea in the springtime…pretty.  Fascinating fact: forsythia can produce its own lactose.

From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees

Before our errands, Timmy and I had lunch at Culver’s, which is a local fast-food/frozen custard chain. I caught some pictures in the parking lot of their pretty flowering tree: I think it’s an apple tree of some sort, but I could be wrong.

From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees

Finally, I’ll post this picture nice and BIG so you can help me to identify it. I’ve no earthly clue:

From 2010 04 16 Nebraska Flowering Trees
16. January 2010 · 1 comment · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Greetings from Norway, I mean, Nebraska!

On Thursday night, after a couple days of melting ice and cold nights, and after a weak cold front moved through, saturated air near the surface brought foggy conditions to our neighborhood. On Friday morning, I saw our trees covered in heavy frost.

From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?

Pretty isn’t it?

Upon a closer look…

From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?

…I noticed the ice was forming into long needles, all oriented in one direction.

I had to trudge through knee-deep drifts that we still had in our front yard to get these pictures, but they’re definitely worth it.

My first thought was that this is rime icing, or rime-type frost. Defined in Wikipedia as “a type of frost that occurs quickly, often under conditions of heavily saturated air and windy conditions. Ships traveling through Arctic seas may accumulate rime on the rigging. Unlike hoar frost, which has a feathery appearance, rime generally has an icy solid appearance. In contrast to the formation of hoar frost, in which the water vapor condenses slowly and directly into icy feathers, Rime typically goes through a liquid phase where the surface is wet by condensation before freezing.”

The temperature range was right for rime ice, as were the saturation conditions and winds, which drive the direction of ice formation.

But Dave told me there were discussions as to whether this was a phenomena called “hoar frost”.

No, not “whore frost”. I don’t even want to go there.

Might this be “hoarfrost” or “hoar frost”, which is also mentioned in that Wikipedia link above? When hoar frost conditions have a slight breeze they can orient their formation in one particular direction. But according to the definition and pictures here, I’m less inclined to think so.

I think what we have is actually “soft rime”. What I saw and experienced fit all of these definitions, the thin, milky white needles, and the ease with which is fell off the trees in the slightest breeze.

The winds were from a northerly direction Thursday night, if there was a wind at all. So according to the definition, the needles should be pointing towards the north, and indeed they were.

So I think this is “soft rime”, but take a look at these other pictures and see what you think:

From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?
From 2010 01 15 Rime Ice or Hoar Frost?

UPDATE: On Saturday morning, the same conditions turned out even heavier rime, and I just took a few pictures and will add them momentarily.

A billion years ago, in one of my meteorology classes, I was taught the temperature ranges at which snowflakes will form their different potential shapes. I remember getting tested on the information, too.

“At what temperature ranges will capped columns form?”

Heck if I know now, but I can now find out with the click of a button….

This is from Wikipedia’s entry on snow:

“The shape of the snowflake is determined broadly by the temperature and humidity at which it is formed.[12] The most common snow particles are visibly irregular. Planar crystals (thin and flat) grow in air between 0 °C (32 °F) and ?3 °C (27 °F). Between ?3 °C (27 °F) and ?8 °C (18 °F), the crystals will form needles or hollow columns or prisms (long thin pencil-like shapes). From ?8 °C (18 °F) to ?22 °C (?8 °F) the shape reverts back to plate-like, often with branched or dendritic features. At temperatures below ?22 °C (?8 °F), the crystal development becomes column-like, although many more complex growth patterns also form such as side-planes, bullet-rosettes and also planar types depending on the conditions and ice nuclei.[15][16][17] If a crystal has started forming in a column growth regime, at around ?5 °C (23 °F), and then falls into the warmer plate-like regime, then plate or dendritic crystals sprout at the end of the column, producing so called “capped columns.”[12]”

I found this description of this specific kind of dendrite from CalTech:

“Fernlike Stellar Dendrites. Sometimes the branches of stellar crystals have so many sidebranches they look a bit like ferns, so we call them fernlike stellar dendrites. These are the largest snow crystals, often falling to earth with diameters of 5 mm or more. In spite of their large size, these are single crystals of ice — the water molecules are lined up from one end to the other. Some snowfalls contain almost nothing but stellar dendrites and fernlike stellar dendrites. It can make quite a sight when they collect in vast numbers, covering everything in sight. The best powder snow, where you sink to your knees while skiing, is made of stellar dendrites. These crystals can be extremely thin and light, so they make a low density snowpack.”

Oh…I just found this picture that seems to sum it up pretty well:

Anyway, here are some pictures I took today from when the temperature was around 0F, and these are some of the prettiest dendrites I’ve seen with my own eyes (rather than in a book). I’m posting these pics nice and large so you can see the elaborate detail. Isn’t science beautiful?