Monday, June 28, 2004
Here are photos from yesterday's ride on the Port Discovery HiFlyer Balloon. In addition to the higher quality images posted here, I moblogged the boarding, takeoff, view from the top, and landing from my Sidekick. The weather was excellent, and there wasn't much of a wait. It's been a little over a year since I took my last ride, and that was at night.
The HiFlyer is one of the most enchanting attractions anywhere, and very unique in North America with only one other installation in Niagra Falls. I dearly wish they could overcome the bureaucratic hurdles to get these set up in other cities. One in Brooklyn to take in the view of Manhattan would be very nice. Baltimore's installation has been struggling since 9/11 in addition to downtime from bad weather and repairs. So I highly recommend visiting the website to get hours and fees to plan a visit in support of this wonderful experience. The balloon will operate into October, and hopefully return next year.
Update 7/17/04: The balloon was grounded today when a mechanical failure stranded 15 passengers in the air for 90 minutes during high winds. There were only minor injuries. See the AP story on the WBAL web site and my moblog photos of the breaking news on local TV.
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Bye bye bugs
An ambitious ant pushes a cicada wing across a sidewalk towards the too-small entrance of his home hill.
The Cicada Storm of 2004 is pretty much over now. We heard a few lone screechers over the weekend, but all is quiet now and the bugs' spent bodies have fallen to the ground. Everywhere, there are signs of damage from the cicada's egg laying in the outer twigs of trees. The thinner twigs die from the egg slits made by the female cicadas and droop brown in a phenomenon called "flagging" (click on the photo at right). The extent of the damage is particularly noticable on our morning commute down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
At a park near our house, I cracked open a flagged twig to get a sense of the size of the eggs and photographed the find against a dime for scale. Every visible brown flag represents hundreds of eggs that will hatch in a few weeks, raining ant-sized nymphs to the ground. They'll burrow down to tree roots to begin the 17-year cycle again.
In one last check of CicadaMania.com, I followed a link to some clever photos by local "streetcorner astronomer" Herman M. Heyn of a cicada in Druid Hill Park watching the projected image of Venus' transit across the Sun on June 8th. I'm puntuating this (hopefully) last cicada-themed blog post by mirroring some of Herman's photos here...
Sunday, June 20, 2004
My first Father's Day
Cianna isn't looking at the lens because she sees herself in the flip-out LCD monitor of my digital camera. We had paused in front of the Baltimore Public Works Museum after lunch to enjoy the gorgeous weather. More about the day on hiptop Nation ...
Saturday, June 19, 2004
Inspired by the black and white photos I've seen in Victoria's Secret stores over the years, I worked with my friend Dainah today on a similar bold contrasty style. For someone who has never modeled before, Dainah is really developing a comfort and presence in front of my camera. Here she is laying on a long piece of crushed muslin that we suspended in a U-shaped configuration in front of a big sunlit window in her house. The same piece of cloth diffused the window light, served as floor covering, and extended back up behind me to bounce light back into the shadows. My camera was facing the sunlight while Dainah's sister was holding a silver reflector next to me to direct a concentration of light back into Dainah's face. The image is a color image converted to black and white and tinted in Photoshop. I continue to be enchanted with the simplicity of working with natural light, but I am starting to dabble in studio electronic flash again.
Sunday, June 13, 2004
Kissing the King
She was supposed to be smiling for the camera when Cianna turned and planted a smooch on Elvis! I could almost hear the lyrics to Your Time Hasn't Come Yet Baby (pop-up ads, but the audio is worth it). This impressive statue of the King stands at the entrance of Cafe Hon in Hampden where we had brunch this morning. We thought a trip to Hampden was appropriate as we opted out of the Honfest yesterday, and instead went to see Shrek 2 (loved it!) during the babysitting time Amy's sisters gave us. Cianna has been kissing us on the cheek in the last few weeks, and also has taken to kissing her dolls and stuffed animals. So sweet.
Sunday, June 06, 2004
I took a couple days off from family and work at the end of last week to visit my former boss's newly renovated waterfront home on the Eastern Shore that is soon to open as a bed & breakfast. It was a good boost to my spirit to reconnect with him as he's an inspiring leader and very successful businessman. My confidence is recharged again just hearing him talk. He has admired my photographic work, and having recently purchased a Canon 10D digital SLR system, wanted some coaching on technique. We did a couple photo sessions with hired models in various locations around his property working with available light and reflectors. For sustinance, he cooked up crab cakes and softshells (emerging at right) made from critters plucked fresh out of the water. Below are a few of the photos we made. Click on the small images to pop up larger versions.
A couple views of the main house as seen from the boathouse.
Russian-born Lena was a pleasure to photograph.
This butterfly was fluttering inside the main house patio window. These last two images were taken with the Canon.
I made mental note of dozens of photo ideas as we wandered the property on foot and in his Humvee. Hopefully, we'll be able to align our busy schedules a few more times over the summer to do some more shoots. Next time, I'll be bringing the rest of the family.