This Sunday afternoon was chilly but the sun shown brightly, so I ventured out on a photo walk. I was seeking Sand Hill Cranes that had been sighted at the wetland restoration area of Buckeye Woods Park, Medina County, Ohio. I saw no cranes but did enjoy a flyover by a beautiful Red-Tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), a loud concert by Western Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris triseriata), and the sight of a tree full of migrating Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). A nice way to spend an April afternoon.
With snow on the ground, holiday lights lit, in a new town to explore, I set out tonight to see what images I might collect. Medina, Ohio’s Public Square and its surrounding storefronts took on a special feeling all decked out for Christmas. Special attention is paid to the city’s ornate gazebo which now is wrapped in glorious lights. Buildings downtown are outlined in white lights, and even the street lights added to the scene. I walked around the square stopping, now and again, to set up and shoot another view; I did that until my hands hurt — too cold (28F) through thin gloves — and I headed home. Here are two of my favorite shots from the night.
After months of searching and work (a story unto itself) we located and purchased an older ranch-style house on a large lot in Medina, Ohio. We had been living in the house for one week and I decided it was high time I take a look at the night sky! The weather was clear and cold Friday night — about 40 degrees when I ventured outdoors — so I had a look around.
The house is situated one mile from the old town square of this small city on a street lit by two orange, low-pressure sodium lights. A big-box shopping district is located about two miles north of the house with a neighboring city beyond. There’s plenty of light pollution and, to the unaided eye, the clear night sky is gray. I could make out the brightest stars of some constellations, however, and easily spotted the Pleiades star cluster rising in the east. I believe I also made out a wisp of Milky Way, as well! I set up my camera on its tripod and did some test shots to assess the photographic sky.
As you can see by the photos here, the camera easily detects stars we can’t visually pull out of the urban nighttime glow. As expected, more stars can be seen overhead — through less atmosphere and less illumination — than near the horizons. While this isn’t a very good spot for astronomy, it’s not impossible. And while the nighttime conditions may not support stargazing, they do offer some artistic potential.
In any event, you work with what you’ve got!
The morning was relatively mild and sunny and, out of curiosity, we set off for Medina to see their annual Ice Festival. We arrived fairly early with no vendors open, no demonstrations running. The town square was, however, ringed by ice sculptures. Most of the sculptures were pretty clearly business-oriented, featuring the name and logo of the sponsoring company; well done, but, well, let’s say lacking artistic purity. A minority of sponsors let beautiful creations represent them with only a name tag advertising their names. One massive work, a bench with a huge “winter” face as its back, represented the show itself. Sun back-lit many of our favorites, the clear, frosty, cut, and etched ice showing off its carved detail in shining, wet brilliance — air temperature was just enough above freezing to let the sculptures thaw a bit!
As a pleasant diversion (and out of curiosity) I left early for work Wednesday morning and made a trip out to Letha House Park in Medina County, the site of the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association's observatory. I wanted to see what progress had been made on the new driveway and parking lot for the park. I also figured I could enjoy a little nature walk around the pond and wetland area there, a little respite before the workday –and night– began. There was no progress on the lot except that a giant digging machine had been removed. The day was sunny and surprisingly hot. Walking slowly, dressed in shorts and tee shirt, I sweated as I moved along the path to the wildlife area. Dragonflies (yes, again) were everywhere so naturally I started shooting photos of them.
I also encountered a bird that flitted from perch to perch obviously trying to evade me but not wanting to go very far. I figured it was a mother and didn't want to tip me off about the location of her nest. Later I was able to confirm that it was a female red-winged blackbird. This particular bird was holding an insect in her beak, obviously a meal for her offspring, as I photographed her watching me.
Note: At home that night I found my camera no longer wished to talk to my PC. Haven't yet fixed it but I can do what many others do… offload the photos from Compact Flash using a media reader.