Sunday, November 30, 2014

Raptor Free Flight

Last Sunday I visited the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum attending their Raptor Free Flight show. I hadn't been since February of 2013 (and blogged about it here), but the show is still a wonderful experience.
Before the show one of the Museum staff had a barn owl out for everyone to see. It was nice to get such a close, unhurried look at this beautiful bird.
The show began with a Chihuahuan Raven, which is not an actual raptor. It's also not my favorite bird in the show.
I am much more fond of the great horned owl and was happy that I got some decent action shots of this one in flight.
They really are beautiful birds. On occasion I can hear them from my desert home but, not surprisingly, almost never see one.
The smaller Prairie Falcon was up next.
The Prairie Falcon is a beautiful bird, but the Ferruginous Hawk is even more impressive. Notice that both birds are wearing a radio tracking device on their backs.
The Ferruginous Hawk has an impressive 4-foot+ wingspan and it, as did the other birds, flew very low over the crowd. It was common for me to feel air rushing aside as a bird flew past me. Their close proximity made it difficult to get some good shots, but I did manage to get some that I was happy with.
 After the show a trainer brought out a Harris's Hawk (below),  giving us a nice look at that bird too.
If you are in the Tucson area anytime between now and early April, I highly recommending heading out to see the ASDM's raptor show. They run two shows daily and feature other birds too. Check out their site to learn more.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Recent Sky Shots

Hey, it's been a while since I've posted some photography here, as most of it has been going straight to my Instagram account. So if you like what you see here, you should totally follow me there.
Thursday morning's crescent moon, complete with earthshine. 
Here's a beautiful sunrise from November 14th with layers of clouds and sky.
Another sunrise pic with clouds and their shadows.

We've got cool mornings in Arizona now. That means that hot air balloon season is back. Here are a few captures from last weekend and this morning:

Sunrise: November 21, 2014

Yesterday morning's sunrise was pretty nice. Thankfully, I was able to capture it. Have a look:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Korea's Bright Lights, Big Cities

I recently spent two weeks in South Korea. Much of my time was in Daegu, Korea's third largest metropolitan area which has a population of 2.5 million people.

Korea is a very interesting place, with many differences from what I am used to. Their cities are very bright with unshielded streetlights and numerous bright LED billboards. There's an explosion of light a color that's pretty much everywhere. 
Here's part of the Daegu skyline. There are numerous giant LED billboards (all over exposed in this shot) visible on the tops of buildings. Most of these are not easily seen from street level, but rather seem to be targeted toward the huge blocks of high-rise apartment buildings -- the most common form of housing in Korea.
These photos were taken on a rainy evening, so the weather conditions exaggerate the brightness of the night sky. Still, while I was in Daegu and Seoul there were essentially no stars visible.

These photos were taken from the vantage point of the 16th floor of the hotel I was staying in. While I was there I decided to shoot some time-lapse video with my iPhone looking down on the traffic below. Here's how it looked:

There's a constant flicker of light visible in the lower left portion of the video, that's from a giant LED billboard that was facing the oncoming traffic.

I used my DSLR too. Here's a short exposure of the view below:
and a couple of longer ones to capture the motion of the cars:
It isn't too surprising that a main corridor of a big city would look like this. What was more surprising to me was that the back streets, frequented by pedestrians, are so brightly lit.
There is light and color everywhere. Much of the brightness here is due not just to unshielded lighting but from advertising and high levels of light spilling out from the interiors of shops.
The view above is pretty typical of many of these streets. It didn't seem to matter what city or town it was, the back streets were all very colorful and very bright.
Here's a view looking down on a portion of Seoul, Korea.

There's an increasing awareness of light pollution in Korea, which recently convened an international conference on the topic. They've got a long way to go, but there's plenty of room for improvement.

Yet there are still regions of darkness in South Korea. There's a move underway to create an International Dark Sky Park in southeast Korea, in Yeongyang County, the country's least populated area. I visited the area and, with some work, it could certainly happen. Stay tuned.