Sunday, September 8, 2013

Flying over the Saintly City - St. Paul, Minnesota

Despite having numerous issues with flights up to Twin Cities, I was fortunate enough to get a window seat on my last connection to Montana and sneak these shots in of one of America's most livable (and lovable) cities!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Starry Skies over Georgia Pine - Clarks Hill Lake, Georgia

Out underneath an August summer night in hopes of catching a few snapshots of the Perseid meteor shower and to test out a few new 'tricks'.  My trick shots turned out very well, the one that I liked the most being the star swirl!  Laying out on the cool grass at the edge of Clarks Hill lake watching the stars shoot across the sky while my shots exposed made for a great night despite having to work the next morning.  The price I pay for getting some shots, however it fully justified a nap the following afternoon!  As I take more night exposures, the more I fall in love with what the night sky gives me in return!

Monday, July 8, 2013

House of the Palmetto State - Columbia, South Carolina

Crowning the hill overlooking the convergence which makes the Congaree River in the heart of South Carolina, the State House proudly waves the star-spangled banner and the blue pennant of the state atop her copper dome.  The construction of the State House in the newly established capital city of Coumbia was marked by the laying of the cornerstone in 1851.  Slowed by the dismissal of the first architect, the exterior walls were just being finished while war broke out in the former state capital, Charleston.  Halted by the Civil War, the South Carolina blue granite walls stood empty and as a sitting duck for General Sherman's cannons as he razed havoc on the birthplace of the Secession.  Although, only a few strikes were made against the building, today bronze stars mark where the cannon balls hit the hollow capitol building.  Construction was not said to be complete until 1907 under the direction of five architects.  One interesting fact about the State House is the 28 columns of the front and rear porticos, they are the largest monolithic columns in the United States and made of the state stone - Blue Granite.

Inside the State House - Columbia, South Carolina

Inside the crown jewel of the Palmetto State holds some of her most revered treaures and citizens.  Spanning over half a century of construction and surviving General Sherman's shelling, this Greek Revival structure holds true to being genuinely South Carolinian.  Aside from the giant monolithic columns in the porticos, the lower level boasts Blue Granite columns holding the red clay brick vaults made by hand and fired less than a mile away on the edges of the Congaree River.   Within the reaches of these columns are the offices of the Governor, Nikki Haley, who is the first female governor of South Carolina and the second governor in the United States to be of Indian heritage along with being the youngest governor in the nation currently, and in the opposing wing the office of the Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Glenn McConnell.

Making the climb up the Iron Staircases to the Grand Lobby of the State House to the Victorian style room from the simple halls below is a stark and bright transition.  Slightly deceiving, what appears to be direct light from above is actually a false dome within the copper dome that is visible from the grounds.  Pictured in the middle is the largest stained glass mosaic window of the four in the State House and is said to made up of more than 35,000 pieces of glass! 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Rise of the Super Moon - Augusta, Georgia

The night of June 23 I had marked on my calendar of weeks!  With the summer solstice and a few other contributing factors, that night the moon was full and closest as it would be to Earth for the year of 2013.  With all the anticipation, I was checking the weather starting the week before and as the day got closer I feared the dreaded Georgia night rain more and more.  Luckily it didn't rain, however the week chalked full of rain before made the humidity almost unbearable!  Unbearable in the sense that you can not see a mile because the haze is so dense that is.  That was my bad luck at the beginning of the night, but my erratic sleep pattern thanks to my graveyard shift was in my favor to being awake very early in the morning.  That is when I was able to get my payload of great shots of the Super Moon!  The image to the left was taken basically from the driveway of my house just before I made my way to the downtown area on the morning of the 24th.  I like the sliver of a cloud barely breaking across the face of the moon while the boughs frame in the earthly satellite.  My two holy sites of choice were the Sacred Heart (formerly Catholic Church) and the Trinity Greek Orthodox church in downtown area with their symbolic domes and steeples of Augusta.  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Simply Farmlife - Northwestern South Carolina

Winding through the Sumter National Forest I felt at home with the pastures with calves bounding about and fields of grain and corn dotting the landscape.  The dangerous thought also crossed my mind as I saw a few "For Sale" signs on a few acres of farmland such as the one with the red barn which is also where I caught a glimpse at some wild turkeys!  

Navigating Nantahala - Western North Carolina

I heard of the beauty of this place from a few people that I had met around Georgia but really didn't think too much of it being they seemed to talk it up to something that I thought could not be true.  Sure enough, I was wrong!  Leaving from the quaint town of Franklin at the crack of down bound for Highlands, I discovered some of the most beautiful waterfalls I have seen in my life, after those of Glacier/Avalanche Lake and Yosemite of course!   Although, scaling down steep slopes composed of pine needles and soft mountain soil after a heavy rain can make for some near death encounters!  (Voice of experience speaking!)  If the conditions allow, getting a view from the bottom of these falls is more than worth it, just be careful!

The Waterfalls: top row, left to right: Cullasaja Falls, above then from the bottom; Dry Falls from the bottom.  Middle row, left is Dry Falls, on the right is one of the tiers of Glenn Falls. Below, left and middle is Bridal Veil Falls, and on the right is another tier of Glenn Falls near the small mountain town of Highlands, North Carolina.

Smokies Sunset - Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Hiking Hyatt Ridge - Smoky Mountains, North Carolina

Made the morning hike along the Hyatt Ridge trail to the top of the Benton MacKaye Trail over Memorial Day weekend and I could not have asked for a better photo experience with my new lens!  The Benton MacKaye trail basically parallels the Appalachian trail through the Great Smoky Mountain forest if that gives you any perspective to the trail!  

Pictured below are a few fun shots that I snapped along the way!  The bird is a pretty easy one to identify but the butterfly in the middle might take you a second or two to find!  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Asheville Alive - Asheville, North Carolina

I have yet to go to Asheville and not see the streets of the downtown buzzing with people walking about as numerous musicians, magicians and more breathe a vibrant sense of life into the Blue Ridge mountain air.  One can never go wrong with Asheville for a weekend get away for great food, culture and a genuine great time!