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NRAO - Very Large Array
1/30/2012 9:06:03 PM

These photos are from a trip to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory Very Large Array site west of Socorro, New Mexico, a few years ago.  Some general information from the NRAO website (http://www.nrao.edu/):

The Very Large Array, one of the world's premier astronomical radio observatories, consists of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico. Each antenna is 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter.  The antennas in the Very Large Array are used like the zoom lens in a camera. When they are in the A configuration, the telescopes extend over the 21 kilometer (13 mile) length of each arm. This simulates a single dish that is 36 kilometers (22 miles) in diameter. In this configuration, we have the most magnification and can see the greatest detail. The size of the array gradually decreases with the B and C configurations until, in the D configuration, the telescopes are all placed within .6 kilometer (.4 mile) of the center.

During my visit the antennas were in one of the smaller configurations which made photography a bit easier.  Since then, the array has been upgraded and is now known as the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) although to the casual observer the appearance is the same.  Almost all of the photos here are black and white although I used a PhotoShop Find Edges filter on one image that I didn't like otherwise and I have included a color photo of the transporter that is used to relocate the antennas.

In some of the photos you may have noticed that each antenna sits above two parallel sets of what appear to be railroad tracks.  The "Y" configuration used for locating the antennas consists of two sets of parallel tracks like these with perpendicular rails to each antenna location.  The antennas are moved using a special transporter which lifts the antennas and moves them.  Rather than turning on curves like a traditional railroad, the transporte moves down the legs of the "Y" and then when it reaches a selected telescope location, it lifts itself up and the wheels are rotated to move down the perpendicular rails.  This is one of the two transporters at the VLA site.

And this is a photo of the array using PhotoShop's Find Edges filter.  I elected to use it with this photo because the whites were so blown out on the orignal image that all detail was lost on the distant telescopes.

Around St. Louis, January 28 and 29, 2012
1/28/2012 4:28:19 PM

I went out on the 28th and 29th to take care of some personal business and to grab some breakfast.  I decided to take the camera bag along just in case I saw something to photograph.  The result was a fairly large number of photos from several sites around St. Louis.  One is here and the others are located in my Gallery mostly in St. Louis Architecture but a few in Landscapes and a few in Wildlife.


Eagles & Swans
1/22/2012 4:40:24 PM

Some photos of bald eagles and swans taken this morning along the Mississippi and
Illinois Rivers.

Mostly Birds
1/20/2012 9:51:00 PM

Going back to color images for a while.  These images are from scanned slides (from the days before I was shooting digital).

Walking on water (well, at least frozen water :-)).  Canada Geese at Busch Wildlife Area, St. Charles County, MO.

I call this one "Incoming".  Canada Goose landing between ice floes on the Mississippi River near Alton, IL.

Most years geese aren't the only birds to land on the icy Mississippi.  Mature (right) and immature (left) Bald Eagles over the Mississippi River.  They were either about to land or had seen some fish that they wanted to capture in a small opening in the ice.  Near Alton, IL.

Mallard drakes coming out of the Illinois River in Grafton, IL.

A closer shot of one of the drakes.  Mallard drake, Grafton, IL.

And equal treatment for a Mallard hen.  Note that she is wearing a band on her right leg.  Mallard Hen, Grafton, IL.

Frontal shot of owl at Route 66 State Park near Eureka, MO.

And he was nice enough to turn and give us a profile shot.  Owl, Route 66 State Park, Eureka, MO.

Small bird (Killdeer?) along Meramec River in Route 66 State Park, Eureka, MO.

"Hey, what am I doing here?  This site is for the birds!  Where are the amphibians?"  Bullfrog on lily pad, Shaw Nature Preserve, near Gray Summit, MO.

Black & White Patterns
1/19/2012 9:45:07 PM

These photos focus on patterns and geometric shapes and how they appear when converted to black and white.

I wanted to start with this photo because it seems to contain something of an optical illusion.  If you look at the photo as a whole you will see the building on the right and recognize that the steps are leading up into the distance.  If, on the other hand, you focus primarily on the steps, they appear to be going down hill in the distance.  This photo was taken in the downtown area of Park City, Utah.

I enjoy taking railroad related photos and found this three way switch at the railroad museum in Golden, Colorado (just down the street from the Coors Brewery :-)) especially interesting.

Cables leading to the suspension bridge over the Royal Gorge in Colorado.

Sandstone patterns in Arches National Park outside Moab, Utah.  For perspective, the small light colored stone near the right side of the photo is about 3/8 of an inch across.

I really like these two gates on opposite sides of the rose garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis.

I like the patterns created by the posts and beams of this building at the Fort des Chartres site in Illinois.  I believe this is built to show how the barracks buildings were constructed when the Fort was actually occuppied.

I've always liked the patterns created by these old rustic fence rows.  This one is near Dillard Mill State Historical Site in Missouri.

Another railroad photo.  The BNSF curves toward a bridge over the Meramec River in Valley Park, MO, a few days after a snow storm.

And I'll wrap up this post with another staircase that seems to present another optical illusion.  While these steps go down a very steep grade that extends beyond what is visible in this photo, depending on how you view this the stairs almost appear to be going back up hill before they reach the viewing platform on the left.


1/18/2012 8:41:40 PM

When I was a child it seems like every book I read described barns in the same way.  They were huge red buildings with white trim, they all had hay lofts, and large double doors below a smaller hay door and hoist to lift hay into the loft.  I think that even then I knew this to not be true because there was a small barn near my grandmother's house used primarily for storing cotton seeds and to house migrant labor during the cotton harvest.  Still, the romantic image of the big red barn remained and is even there today although, as these photos show, barns come in many different sizes and shapes.  And while I occasionally see a red barn, more often they are unpainted or the paint has faded beyond recognition. I've included a barn here and many more, along with some other older buildings in my Gallery in the Barns & Buildings section.


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