Friday, January 31, 2014

Ann Arbor by Night

It was actually in the upper 20's, low 30's today and I've been wanting to do some night photography for a while.  After a bit of a nap, I decided to head over to Ann Arbor to do some night photography.  It was actually kind of cool since I really haven't wandered around Ann Arbor in a long time.
 I decided to start with the Michigan Theater because I liked the look of the sigh all lit up.  Had I realized they were turning the State Theater sign off when they did, I would have started there.   I kind of liked the way this turned out.
 Roughly a block away from the Michigan is an alleyway with a bunch of graffitti.  I guess it's Ann Arbor's way of competing with Detroit.
 Some of it is pretty cool.
 Across the street from this is what used to be called the Nectarine Ballroom.  It is now just known as the Necto (I guess kids these days can't handle more than two syllables).
 Another shot of the grafitti alley.
 Another shot of the Michigan Theater.
 Looking up at the sign.
 Probably my favorite angle of the Michigan Theater sign.
 One more shot of the Michigan Theater.
 Then I went over to Nickel's Arcade.  I kind of like the looks of the long hallway with the lights going down.
 I went a little further down the arcade.
 One of the nice things about Nickel's Arcade is that some of the stores have some pretty nice window displays.  This was one of them.
 I liked this one a little better.
 Then I wandered over to Hill Auditorium.  I think there was a concert there because it was all lit up.
 Looking down towards the Grad Library.
 I couldn't pass up some night time shots of the Burton Memorial Tower.  I think it looks pretty cool all lit up.
 The straight on shot of it except I think part of it looks washed out, but that is one of the problems with night photography.  I still need to learn some stuff.
 This was probably my favorite angle.
 I couldn't pass up a picture of Rackham Hall.

 Then I went to the other side of the Diag to get other pictures.  I think this is a pretty cool view too.
 The West Engineering Arch.  This is one of many Albert Kahn buildings on campus.
 A closeup of the arch.
 This is Pinball Pete's which is an actual arcade.  They even have a few games from the golden age of arcade games.  Or least in my opinion it was the golden age.
 The Clements Memorial Library.  This also is a Kahn Building.
 They finally finished renovating the Law Quad.  I'll have to head over here again to get pictures of the gargoyles on the inside.
 The Michigan Union also looks pretty cool all lit up.
 It started to snow as I started to finish my pictures, but I couldn't pass up a shot of State Street.
One more shot of Nickels Arcade.  Sadly, there were some vehicles in the way but I still think it is a pretty nice building.

Actually, I can't wait for the weather to get a little nicer so that I can do some more night photography.  I would really like to get some night shots from Downtown Detroit but I will wait for the snow to melt a little more to do that.   I hope you enjoyed this series.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Sun Rises on Eastern Michigan

It was a nice sunny morning this morning and I liked the way that sun was hitting Pierce Hall.  It gave it a nice glow.
 I never really appreciated the architecture on Eastern's campus.  It's really not that bad but it is definately a reflection that Eastern did most of it's growing in the 50's and 60's.  I don't particularly hate modern architecture but I will take an older building over a modern one any day.
 For some reason, the faces near the top of the building remind me of Greek theater masks.
 But I can never pass up the tall view of a building.  I like the way the lines lead up in this picture.
 And then there's the quarter view.
 Of all the times I've take a picture of the Pierce Hall tower, I never noticed that owl before.  I think it's kind of cool.
 Even though the light wasn't illuminating it as well as Pierce Hall, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to take a picture of Pease Auditorium.  I like it's more or less classical look.
And one more picture of Pierce Hall.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Eastern Michigan Vs. Bowling Green Falcons Basketball

I went to the Eastern Michigan game tonight.  After the crappy loss on Saturday, I was hoping that this would be a game that they would bounce back.
 Raven Lee getting mugged on his way to the basket.
 Daylen Harrison charging towards the basket.  He had a pretty good night tonight with 10 points and 8 rebounds.
 Mike Talley taking a shot.  He would later leave the game after a particularly nasty foul on him.
 Swoop dancing during one of the breaks.
 If I had any doubts about Eastern bouncing back after their loss on Saturday, this removed it.  Bryant had a  total of 26 points tonight.
 I just liked the look on his face for this shot.
 Mike Talley working his way around a Bowling Green defender.
 Mike Talley going for the layup.
Ali Farhat getting some last minute playing time.

Eastern won this one pretty handily.  I just hope they can keep this up for the rest of the season.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Challenger Disaster Anniversary

Normally I do not use pictures taken by people other than me, but today is an exception.  Today marks the anniversary of the Challenger Disaster.  The space shuttle Challenger blew up on January 28, 1986.  Everyone has that moment in history that they remember.  I guess TV has helped that regard a bit since we don't actually have to be a first person witness to history but still.

The Challenger explosion marks one of those moments for me.  If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I am a huge aviation fan and some of that extends to our space program.  The first shuttle launch occurred when I was 12 and I was a junior in high school when this happened.  One of the teachers showed the news broadcast in our class.

I think one of the sadder aspects of this disaster is that it gave us too much pause about our space program.  Up until this point, space launches were fairly routine and people didn't remember some of the disasters prior to this.  The investigation of this accident delayed the program for over two years.  Even when the shuttle program resumed, some of the luster of the space program has worn off and I don't think it ever really recovered.
 The mission was designated as STS-51-L and the crew are pictured above.  The front row from left to right:  Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee (the commander of the flight) and Ronald McNair.  The back row from left to right:  Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Resnick.  The mission was the first that would send a teacher into space (Christa McAulliffe).  Take a look at the picture, it represents a good sample of America.  I always looked up to pilots (and astronauts by extension) and while now I realize that they have flaws just like everyone else, there was nothing cooler in my books.
 A picture of the astronauts as they head towards the shuttle.  They almost look like passengers heading towards a flight.
The mission itself was originally scheduled to launch on January 22, 1986.  Delays in the previous mission caused this launch to get delayed to January 24.  Bad weather at one of the abort locations pushed the launch to January 25.  Predictions of bad weather at Kennedy Space Center pushed the launch back further January 27.  The fact that the alternate abort site picked was not equipped for night landings pushed the launch to the fateful day of January 28.  (NOTE:  I wish I had my own picture of a shuttle launch.)

Unusually cold weather on the morning of launch raised some concerns with the booster rockets.  The Thiokol engineers were of the thought that the o-rings used to seal the boosters would not be resilient enough to keep the hot gases of the boosters from affecting the shuttle.  The Thiokol engineers were over-ridden by NASA which couldn't afford another delay.

The picture above would have been taken around 11:38 A.M., the time of the shuttle launch.  At that time the temperatures were around 28 to 29 F.  Not only were the o-rings a concern, but the Rockwell engineers were concerned that ice may fall off the shuttle and damage some of it's heat resistant tiles leading to the potential of the shuttle burning up as it tried to land.

As the shuttle escaped the launch pad, it experienced wind shear greater than any other time in the past.  This could have been an abort point.  68 seconds after launch, we would hear the last transmission from the Challenger as the Shuttle Commander Scobee would acknowledge "throttle up".  The Challenger would explode roughly 22 seconds after that point.  I figured I would not include pictures of that, as that is probably the most famous scene.  Even if the explosion hadn't been so spectacular, the crew really had no chance as there was no escape mechanism during the powered phase of flight.

After the disaster, a Presidential commission was formed to investigate the cause of the disaster and it pretty much pointed at the o-rings.  The weren't designed for the temperatures at the time of launch.  The seal on the booster rockets wasn't the greatest and a few other things.  One of the members of the commission was the physicist Richard Feynman (look up his two autobiographies, they are pretty good reads).  He basically said that NASA's management had different numbers for reliability than the engineers (the management numbers were more optimistic).  His quote related to this:  "For a successful technology," he concluded, "reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."  He probably would have said the same thing about the Columbia disaster.

As I said above, the disaster delayed the Shuttle program for two and half years while the fixes were implemented.  I honestly don't think the Shuttle ever really recovered from the disaster.  For that matter, I don't really think NASA ever really recovered.  It is kind of sad really because NASA should be our nation's inspiration.  There is nothing particularly inspiring by any of the science programs coming out.  More fuel economy is nice...but it is not the Moon or Mars.  I think we need another grand vision like Kennedy's.

The pictures come from NASA's archives.

Back to Winter

Even though I don't particularly care for winter, it does make for nice pictures.
 The temperature climbed up to 0 today but the wind made it feel colder.  I don't think it was cold as they were saying it was going to be but it was still pretty cold.
 So I went back to my favorite birch trees.  I liked the way the shadows hit the ground.
 There were little bits of snow stuck to the trees.
 The stand of grass in the snow.
 More birch trees.
 In case you did not believe me how cold it was.
 I really liked the way the shadows were playing on the ground.  I think I would have liked this picture more without the cars in the background.
 A nice peaceful winter scene.  Taken from indoors.
 Then I started looking at the drifts in the back.
 I kind of liked the shadows and curves.
One more winter shot.