Sunday, December 08, 2019

Chasing Rainbows (and a How To)

I was putting up Christmas lights on the house and it kept sprinkling on me. Then, the next thing I knew, the Sun broke through even though the sky was almost black. So I raced down to the lake hoping to catch a rainbow. It never showed up but I thought you’d like to see my what my normal sunrise spot looks like at sunset.

(If you want to know how to chase rainbows, keep scrolling down.)

Nikon D7000 -- Nikon 18-300mm 6.3 ED VR

©Don Brown 2019

How to Chase Rainbows

Whenever I go off chasing rainbows (literally) I am reminded of Galen Rowell. Except for the guy that taught me photography (Hi Bill), no one else comes close as an influence on how I think about photography. If you haven't heard of Galen Rowell, I'd encourage you to read this article in Outdoor Photographer. And as far as I'm concerned, his books were masterpieces on the art of photography and how we see. As you read the article, you will most likely recognize his iconic image of a rainbow over Potala Palace.

I believe his instructions for chasing rainbows were in one of his books. Wherever I learned them, I never forgot them. (The only photography seminar I ever paid for was one of his in the Great Smoky Mountains.) So let's get down to it.

As any kid with a garden hose and sprayer knows, it only takes sunlight and water drops to make a rainbow. It doesn't have to be rain, but there has to be some kind of water droplets. (For instance, at many large waterfalls, you can find a rainbow in the spray.) So where do you look to find a rainbow? Your shadow points the way.

Lemons to Rainbows

You must first find the anti-solar point. In other words, locate the Sun (notice I didn't say "look at the Sun"), and then find the point directly opposite of the Sun -- the anti-solar point. A rainbow forms in an arc around that point. (I *think* it's a 42º arc around the anti-solar point but I promised myself I wouldn't get bogged down in the minutiae.)

Put your thinking cap on now. If you go out in a rainstorm at noon, where is the anti-solar point? That's right, at your feet. Now look around in arc around your feet and you aren't going to find a rainbow (nor a pot of gold). Likewise, you can go out in the rain at midnight...oh, never mind. You get the point. This is the reason you are most likely to see a rainbow in the sky around sunrise or sunset. And it should now make sense as to why I was standing in my sunrise spot at sunset, chasing rainbows.

Its just that simple. I'll let you work out some of the other details on your own. Those that are interested will. That that aren't won't. (But you'll never learn about a Moonbow.)

Don Brown
December 8, 2019

Friday, December 06, 2019

11,000 is Enough

Remembering I was an air traffic controller (a profession intently interested in weather)…

As I was looking at the weather report this morning, I noted (to my Facebook-weather-report friends) that I wasn't sure an 11,000 foot ceiling was high enough for the Sun to get under it and light up the sky. Turns out, it is.

I could see just a sliver of clear sky on the horizon this morning when I first got to the lake, one hour before official sunrise.  I really wasn't sure how the timing would work out.  The clouds were moving east, towards the sunrise and would, sooner or later, block it.  About 45 minutes before sunrise you could see the glow start.  (It was so dark at the time the autofocus wouldn't lock up but I tried anyway.)  The best color was to the right of my view of the lake so I had to walk down the face of the dam to get this shot.  

This was taken at 7:21 — just 7 minutes before official sunrise, during what I call the encore. There's often a pretty glow, early,  that fades away.  And then, just before sunrise, an intense but short burst of color.  It works (in reverse) for sunsets too.  I've seen many, many people (including photographers) walk away from a great sunset because the early color faded and they thought it was over. 

Nikon D7000 -- Nikon 18-300mm 6.3 ED VR

©Don Brown 2019


Your Granny Is a Godless Communist

Let me ask you a question: Is your grandmother on Social Security? How about Medicare? Do you know who came up with Social Security? Do you know who got Medicare implemented? Go ahead. Look it up. I'll wait.

Now, let me ask you another question (or two):

Was Franklin D. Roosevelt "too liberal"?

Was Lyndon Baines Johnson "too liberal"?

If you answered "yes" to either of those, let's take a look at what history says. From Wikipedia:


Siena College Research Institute, Presidential Expert Poll of 2018

"On February 13, 2019, Siena released its 6th presidential poll.

The poll was initiated in 1982 and occurs one year into the term of each new president. It is currently a survey of 157 presidential scholars, across a range of leadership parameters.

The ranking gave the top five spots to George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt (FDR), Abraham Lincoln, Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson. This top five, described as Mt. Rushmore plus FDR, was consistent with prior surveys. Washington had been ranked fourth in all previous surveys, and FDR first."

Let's think about this now: "Mt. Rushmore plus FDR". The greater truth is that FDR usually ranks in the top 3: Washington, Lincoln and FDR. (I'm always amazed that you just can't say "Roosevelt". Teddy is usually ranked 4th or 5th.) So the guy that came up with Social Security is considered the 3rd greatest President of all time -- right behind the guy that created the country and the guy that saved it.

(Let me interrupt myself to put this controversial idea into print. To the best of my knowledge -- in the history of the world -- only two men can be credited with saving the world. And FDR's daddy wasn't God.)

FDR was elected to 4 terms as President. Good or bad, it's kind of hard to deny his popularity. And speaking of popularity, can you name a program more popular with the Public than Social Security? You know, the program that keeps your Grandmother (Godless Communist that she is) from living in your basement?

So I'll ask again; Was FDR too liberal?

And that brings me to Lyndon Baines Johnson. Admit it. When I asked you to name a Government program more popular than Social Security, Medicare flashed through your brain didn't it? Can we all agree that Medicare is indeed insanely popular?

LBJ (#10 on this Presidential survey) was a lot of things but "liberal" usually isn't what tops the list. Right up until he was sworn in as President, most Americans thought of him as just another racist Southerner. He wasn't. Turns out, he was an FDR-Democrat Westerner. The Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act, he doubled Federal spending on education, the Public Broadcasting Act -- his legislative accomplishments were simply breathtaking. None were bigger or more important than Medicare (and Medicaid).

So we go back to the question: Was LBJ "too liberal"?

I ask because I'm tired of hearing one of my local political pundits describe Elizabeth Warren as "too liberal" because she supports "Medicare for All". Now don't get me wrong. I like my local political pundit. (Well, sort of.) That's the reason I listen to him. But I hear the same sentiment from many other pundits. Given the position of Overton's Window these days, he's probably correct. But when you look at the facts, when you look at history, when you look at reality...the concept of Social Welfare is incredibly popular with the American Public.

Just because Conservatives have appropriated the words and vilified them doesn't change the fact that Granny is receiving a government retirement subsidy and is using "socialized medicine". And she loves it. It's not me that's calling her a Godless Communist/Socialist, it's the money guys -- the ones getting rich off of American's misery.

FDR and LBJ tried to end (or at least moderate) American's misery. Elizabeth Warren wants to do the same. (As do all the other Democrats.) "Welfare for All" is just advertising. What America needs (and the rest of civilized world has) is Universal Healthcare. I don't care how we get it. Just as long as we get it. Republicans probably want to end American's misery too. They just want somebody to be able to make a profit on it. They're willing to let you -- and your kids -- suffer until they get it. After all, Granny's got her's.

Don Brown
December 6, 2019

Thursday, December 05, 2019

The Quiet Colors

Nothing dramatic on the lake this morning.  Just the quiet colors of a foggy morning sunrise in winter.

Nikon D7000 -- Nikon 18-300mm 6.3 ED VR

©Don Brown 2019


Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Whitetail Visitors

So there I was, photographing some dying weeds with pretty colors when I turned around and saw a small herd of whitetail deer.  A 200-500mm lens, mounted on a tripod, standing on a slope and with the camera set on manual so I could photograph the pretty, backlit weed.  What are the chances I can swing around a catch a shot of a deer?

Turns out, they were pretty good.  I've seen the deer dozens of times before and I've noticed that they can't really see me.  They're staring straight into the rising Sun. They know something's up.  They can see movement and they can hear me.  But if I'm quiet and move slow, they won't spook.

So I shoot a few frames through the brush and then I started moving slowly down the hill towards a clearing.  The tripod is now a liability but I drag it along with me anyway.  They finally spooked and I got this as they were running away. 

Nikon D7200 -- Nikon 200-500mm 5.6E ED VR
ISO 100

(ROD_9126 - 2)
©Don Brown 2019


Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Pile-Up on J37

It was pretty for the sunrise this morning at the lake.  But to be honest, I think it was just a pile-up of contrails from planes flying on J37.  (Just in case y'all forgot I was an air traffic controller at Atlanta Center.)

Nikon D7000 -- Nikon 18-300mm 6.3 ED VR

©Don Brown 2019


Monday, December 02, 2019

Time to Shine

I hate to keep showing the same scene.  Even though I go to the same location every morning, I try to find a variety of angles and scenes to shoot.  But when it's your time to shine, I guess it's your time to shine.  Because of the position of the Sun (approaching its furtherest point south at the winter solstice) it continues to light up the point while most of the shoreline remains in shadow.  It's a scene that never grows old to me.

Nikon D7000 -- Nikon 18-300mm 6.3 ED VR

©Don Brown 2019

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Sunday Storm Breaks

When I walked into my closet this morning a gust of rain and wind hit the house so hard I did a double take.  A thunderstorm on December 1st?  The lightning came along just after I was dressed and drinking coffee.  I know it sounds bad but if you're a outdoor photographer, it's actually good.  The light is always interesting when a storm breaks.  Especially near sunrise or sunset.

Nikon D7000 -- Nikon 18-300mm 6.3 ED VR

©Don Brown 2019