Saturday, December 24, 2011

Remembering the Fire

Today being Christmas eve, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.  In addition to being a time of celebration, for many of us this is also a time for reflection on the past.

It was 4 years ago yesterday that the sanctuary at Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church was completely destroyed by fire.  

#N_16855 - Before the fire


I suspect that nobody who was present the morning of December 23, 2007 will ever forget that day.  It was like a bad dream waking up on Sunday morning 2 days before Christmas, learning that your church had been reduced to ruins in an overnight fire. 

After a lot of work, study and planning, a new sanctuary was built to replace that which burned and it opened on the 2nd anniversary of the fire, December 23, 2009. 

Yesterday, two years after the first service in the new sanctuary, a sculpture was dedicated to mark the place in history where the congregation moved beyond the tragedy of the fire to continue forward.  The sculpture was created by Jim Smith from a twisted, melted steel beam that was part of the roof support structure in the original sanctuary.  You can clearly see in the 2nd image above the steel beams melted and sagging from the intense heat of the fire.  

#N_111631 - The "Rising" by artist Jim Smith
Below are a few more images of the new church.

#N_78409 - Outside at night

#N_78851B - Inside Stained Glass

#N_78158 - Antiphonal Organ (fisheye view)
 The 60 rank pipe organ was built and installed by A.E. Schulter Pipe Organ Company of Lithonia, Georgia.  I created this image using a fisheye lens from behind the antiphonal organ.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Yosemite National Park - Part 2

#7D_1001 El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks at night
I'll start off with a my favorite night time Yosemite image, which was photographed from the area called gates of the valley. It is a small turnout off northside drive and offers a great view of both El Capitan and Cathedral rocks.  The image above is a 30 second exposure that was taken in near total darkness at f4, iso 200 with a 17mm lens.  Due to the long exposure, the moving water creates a nice blur as it flows over the rocks, and the stars in the sky are just beginning to form star trails.  Because there was no moon, an exposure this long was necessary to get enough light on the mountains. 
The next image is taken from the same exact spot but looking a little more to the right at Cathedral Rocks.  You can see the blur of headlights and tail lights from cars passing on the road in the distance, and also rocks lit in the river from headlights of cars pulling into a parking area behind me.  The light on the rocks was unintentional, but I could not control it.

#7D_998 - Cathedral Rocks at Night
The following evening we were photographing Half Dome from the Sentinel Bridge and this was the first time I used a graduated neutral density filter.  It worked wonders at equalizing the bright light in the sky so that I could get a decent exposure of both the foreground and background, without blowing out highlights.

#7D_ 1271 - Half Dome
Had I done a little more investigating on filters prior to this trip, I could have saved myself a lot of grief the first couple days we were there.  The filter proved invaluable in many different situations and made it a lot easier to get photos that would have been impossible to capture without it. 

Where I had been bracketing exposures the first couple days in situations where the light was too harsh, I found myself wanting to go back to places I had been and re-shoot.

As I had said earlier, there was not much water flow in any of the falls this time of the year, so it was not a priority to photograph them.  I did however, photograph several of the falls that were visible either from the road, or after just a short hike. 

Although these are not very good photos, I am including them just to show what was there.  I do plan to return sometime in the summer so that I can get photos of the falls with more water flow, and also take the longer hikes required to photograph Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls.

#N110753 - Bridalveil Falls (photographed from the tunnel on Hwy 41)

#N110494 - Upper Yosemite Falls

#7D_747 - Lower Yosemite Falls
We finally drove up to Glacier Point, which is about an hours drive from the valley floor, depending on where you start.  It was along this drive that I showed the coyote photo in the previous post.   It's a long and winding road climbing several thousand feet, but offers spectacular views of the valley once you get to the top.  The following images show the observation area as well as a view of the valley.

#N_110710 - This is the famous overhanging rock. Many photos have been taken here.

#7D_1261 - The observation area at Glacier Point

#N_110716 - View of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point