Saturday, February 26, 2011

First Paddle of the Year

As the mercury in the thermometer begins to rise and the rains begin to fall, it was time to hit the water again. Whereas last year, we spent most of our time on the Locust Fork, we want to establish ourselves as equal opportunity paddlers we went to the Cahaba.

We paddled the stretch of the Cahaba River from Hwy 280 to Lorna Road, about 11.25 miles. Thanks to some current pushing us, we were able to do this run in four hours, and that with some out-of-boat sidetracking.

We were using this trip as practice for our upcoming paddling and camping trip on the Locust Fork. For more information about paddling opportunities in Alabama visit the North Jefferson Kayak Club website.

All of these photos are still-frames lifted from video shot with my handy-dandy Flip.

Monday, February 21, 2011

After the Fog Rolls in

Canon A-1, Fuji Neopan SS

 Unreal City, 
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn

When T.S. Eliot penned those words in The Waste Lands, he so adeptly captured
the essence of the transformation which a city undergoes, when the fog sets in.

Even the simplest, most innocent structures become surreal, eerie,
almost compelling you to look for something sinister in their midst.

Calumet 4x5, Schneider-Kreuznach 135mm f4.7, Ilford Delta 100

Holga, Arista EDU Ultra 400

And nature is no different. Peaceful mornings among the rudimentary, ancient woods that predate our own habitation, take on a different tone. One of isolation and solitude, whose connotations are of loneliness rather than a voluntary, if temporary, distancing.

Panasonic LX3

Panasonic LX3

Carl Sandburg's Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Holga, Ilford Delta XP2 Super

Friday, February 18, 2011

Monster Mash

My first effort at any sort of video editing. This was shot while Pike, Allen, and I were exploring the ruins of Republic Steel, located at Wade Sand and Gravel in Birmingham. It was shot on a Flip.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentine Tulips

All photos taken with: Canon T2i, EF 50mm f/1.8 (reverse mounted)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hilton Head Island

Anna and I took a trip to Hilton Head in August, as a sort of delayed anniversary celebration. Thanks to a family friend, we were able to stay at a condo that was a mere nice-boardwalk-over-a-salt-marsh stay from the beach.

The salt marsh and proximity to the beach were fortuitous, because while Anna exercised in the mornings, I was able to wander out and take photos.


And I learned a lot about salt marshes while on the trip. They are the densest ecosystems in the world for biomass and are integral to the maintenance of healthy coastal environments. They're also kinda pretty.

We took one day to go to Savannah. It was a really hot day (as should have been expected in Georgia), so the trip to the city that General Sherman offered to President Lincoln as a Christmas present in 1864 was a little less pleasant than it might otherwise have been. We also made it out to Tybee Island for a quick visit.

The church above is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. One of my favorite photos from this trip (below) causes me to chuckle inside a little. Then the photo below that is one that was taken about seven years previously on another day trip to Savannah.

Our final excursion was to go on a boat tour in an effort to sea some dolphins. We were successful, but even more memorably, I was able to photograph a shrimping boat and a really splendid sunset.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

At the Mercedes Half-Marathon

 Now I feel like a runner. My first race of any kind was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in October 2010. Shortly thereafter, I found a new ambition: running a half-marathon, and ultimately a marathon. The Half is now under my belt.

On Friday, my wife Anna (above) and I went to the expo to pick up my race package, where I got to collect some SWAG.

I also saw the board with all the names of the runners. This is most of the Half-Marathoners. Then there are the Marathoners, 5K-ers, and Marathon Relay Teams. In all, about 7000 runners.

 Earlier in the week, the folks who run the Mercedes Marathon sent out an email suggesting that we participants dress for a significant temperature change. Temps were in the mid-30s when the runners began to arrive around 6am and warm up nicely throughout the next several hours.

So yesterday I went out in search of a disposable sweatshirt, one that I could shed at race time. The Mercedes folks were collecting all the discarded attire and donating it to local missions. I could not have been more excited about the sweatshirt I chose.

So the race began. I had no expectations, except to finish. Anna and her family were waiting for me at Mile 5, among the multitudes of others to be found along the route, cheering for and encouraging the runners. So here I am coming and going 5/13.1 of the way through.

The rest of the race was more-or-less the same: high-5 little kids on the sideline, water stations, Powerade stations, GU Gel stations, beer station at Mile 12 (I turned down that opportunity), hills, lots of hills.

AND THEN, I felt something I have never experienced before: euphoria. As I rounded the last corner and entered the final stretch, a wave of what-can-only-be-described-as wonderful goodness swept over me.

I didn't set the world on fire with my 2:14:52 (official) time, but I did narrowly avoid being lapped by the winning Marathoner. And I did fulfill my one expectation: finishing. And now count myself among the runners of the world.

Next stop: Music City Half-Marathon in Nashville

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Caprock Canyons

Canon T2i, EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5
Caprock Canyons State Park is quaintly situated nearly equidistant between Turkey (where you can find a restaurant that "specializes" in Mexican and American food) and Silverton, Texas. The nearest municipality to the park is Quitaque (pronounced "Kitty-quay"), with a burgeoning population of 432 folks. Now you know exactly where I'm talking about, right?

Caprock Canyon claims to be the home of the "Official Texas State Bison Herd," but metal cutouts and statues aside, my father and I saw nary-a-one. We were privy to some feral pigs and a couple small herd of deer, not to mention the more than plentiful roadkill, which was pretty standard fare - just your average collection of opossum and armadillo. 

Canon T2i, EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5
Canon T2i, EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5

Caprock Canyon is the little brother of the better known Palo Duro Canyon, about 90 miles to the northwest. Palo Duro, which is near Amarillo, is both larger and more commercialized than the appreciably more desolate Caprock. For additional information about Caprock Canyons State Park, you can find its website here.

Canon T2i, Tokina AT-X Pro 12-24mm f/4

Canon T2i, EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5

This little 9-hour round-trip to and from desolate West Texas served as the maiden voyage for my then-newly-acquired Canon T2i and Tokina AT-X 12-24mm f/4 lens. It was also the first Texas road trip I was to have taken in some time, so off Dad and I went at 4:15am in early January. And the further west we trekked, the further the thermometer plummeted. But aside from the decidedly frigid temperatures, it couldn't have been a better outing.

Canon T2i, EF 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ode to Morris Avenue

Morris Avenue, due to its close proximity to the rail lines that run through the middle of Birmingham, became one of the Magic City's earliest commercial and warehouse districts.

Panasonic LX3

Panasonic LX3

Morris Avenue contains Birmingham's last cobblestone street, which seems nice for nostalgic purposes, but isn't terribly pleasant to traverse.

Panasonic LX3

Canon A-1, FD 50mm f/1.4

In more recent years, the buildings along Morris Avenue have been restored and converted into lofts, offices, and storefronts. It is also a hotspot, on any nice weekend day, for engagement pictures.

Canon A-1, FD 50mm f/1.4, Fuji SS 100

Panasonic LX3

Additional information and history pertaining to the district can be found at BhamWiki.

Panasonic LX3

Canon A-1, FD 100mm f/2.8, Kodak Gold 200

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Locust Fork

Blake, Tyler, and I went to observe the Locust Fork Invitational kayak races on Saturday, which were postponed due to the river having risen too much overnight. So instead we hiked a bit along the river down by Hwy 160.

I took a number of photographs, most of which should have been immediately deleted. In fact, only two were even presentable. So here are those two:

 Tributary Waterfall

Fungus Amongus

I was able to take some video of Blake risking life and limb. Sorry the quality of this one is poor; I need to get a better file converter.