Weekly photo challenge: Structure

In light of the fact that I’m trying to become a (better? good? not horrible?) photographer, I’m going start participating in WordPress’ weekly photo challenge.

This week’s challenge is Structure. When I saw that, the first thing I thought of was the structure in the sun’s corona that I captured in my eclipse photos. The best of those, in my opinion, is this one:

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It captures a few things that are appealing to me. First is the structure in the corona, which is what this week’s photo challenge is about. It also captures Mercury’s ability to shine in the presence of the sun, and not be overwhelmed by it. I’m sure many people can relate to that metaphorically.

The photo is simple, but I am quite pleased with it.

#Eclipse2017

I want to do a quick post to close the loop on the eclipse. It was, without hyperbole, one of the greatest experiences of my life. Perhaps short of seeing my children born, but definitely better than any other natural world experience I’ve ever had. Totality was amazing. Don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s almost as good to see it at 99%. I’ve seen both, and I promise you, it is night and day different (literally, and figuratively).

We had a long car ride home, but it was TOTALITY worth it.

Without further ado, some photos:

First, through the solar filter as the eclipse began; you can see a few sunspots in this one:

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Later, with the sunspots on the “limb” clearly visible:

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I managed to get “last light” through the solar filter:

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Of course it’s impossible to describe what happened during the eclipse. It got cold. The streetlights came on. There was a 360-degree “sunset.” And the stars came out, as you can see in this one (four or more “stars” if you look closely, including Venus to the right and Mercury to the lower left):

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This is my favorite; Mercury is very prominent to the lower left, and you can see a lot of structure in the corona.

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Finally, I tried to get the “diamond ring.” I didn’t time it quite right, but here’s what I ended up with. I purposely edited it so you can see the structure in the corona, though it makes the central part over-exposed. You can also see some visual artifacts from diffraction in the camera (?) from the bright part of the diamond ring:

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A new baby in the Webb family

The exciting news this week is that we have a new baby in the Webb family! Sylvia Ann Webb was born to Matthew and Becky at 0526 this morning (7 pounds, 19 inches long).

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We got a call at 0100 this morning that Becky had begun labor. Sherrie quickly got her things together and went to Salt Lake. She had to go to the neighbors to pick up Esther, and she had to go to the hospital to get keys from Matt (not sure of the order). Eventually she got Esther back to her own house and to bed and finally fell asleep around 0400. (I’m on the phone with her right now and she sounds very tired.) One fun story is that when Esther got to the neighbors’, she was wide awake and they had to read stories to her for a couple of hours until Sherrie arrived.

I was up just after 5 for my early-morning meeting, and I texted Matt at 0524 (yes, two minutes before Sylvia came, by coincidence) to send me updates. Well, at 0610, during the beginning of our meeting, my phone rang and I could see it was Matt, so I excused myself and went out in the hall to talk to him, and I got the happy news.

Sherrie and I spent most of the day with Matt, Becky, Esther, and Sylvia. It was lovely! Becky seems to be in high spirits and feeling and looking great. Sylvia slept a lot and seems to be happy to be here, if sleepy. Esther was very quiet and reserved when she first saw her sister:

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Matthew was a glowing new papa.

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And of course, Grandma and Grandpa were pretty happy as well:

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Sherrie just told me that when they left the hospital (I had to leave a while ago), Esther fell asleep in the car on the ride home. Mind you, it was only five blocks, so that was fast! She pretty much conked out.

We are so happy to have a new lovely granddaughter in our family, and that things went so well with her arrival. Children, grand or otherwise, are a great blessing from a loving Heavenly Father. I cherish the children in my life.

#Eclipalypse

Sherrie and I are currently in Rexburg, ID with Jared, Rachel and Silas, and Rachel Elizabeth. We had the happy coincidence that our nephew Joey returned home from his mission to Oklahoma a few days ago and gave his report in sacrament meeting here today. So we came up to visit Sherrie’s sister Pam’s family, and this just happens (:-) to coincide with the eclipse tomorrow. We are excited to be here. Rexburg is in the path of totality, and only nine miles from the centerline. The skies are a little hazy from fires, but hopefully we will have a good show tomorrow.

We had a loss this week: our peach tree split right down the middle on its main branch:

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We are going to try and let the branches “live” long enough to ripen the peaches, but the tree will have to go this Fall or in the Spring. I’m bummed about that.

As of yet, we haven’t seen any evidence of the #Eclipolypse. Although, in church today, there we quite a few visitors from near and far. The Rexburg-ites seem to be taking it in stride. I keep watching Google Maps to see the traffic problems, but none have arisen in Northern Utah/Southern Idaho yet. Much ado about nothing?

I bought an “entry-level” Nikon DSLR this past week. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and decided to let the #Eclipolypse be the impetus to make the purchase. I’ve been practicing taking pictures. Here are few:

Here’s one taken by a stranger in Jared’s apartment complex:

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I took a few photos of Matt, Becky and Esther:

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and here’s Becky, ready to burst:

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I took a couple pictures of the night sky this week. First, a picture toward the north (Cassiopeia) with the Milky Way; if you know where to look in the right third just below center, you can see the Andromeda Galaxy:

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(I need to get away from city lights to get better Milky Way photos).

In preps for the #Eclipolypse, I took some photos of the sun through a filter today. You can see some (somewhat blurry) sunspots:

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I’m excited about the #Eclipolypse tomorrow. I hope we can get some good photos, but above all that we have a neat experience.

We are breathlessly awaiting the call from Matt and Becky, as she is due in the next week or so and the baby can come at any time. Sherrie has plans to go down and help Matt and Esther when the big day comes. We’re excited for the new baby!

I took a couple of good pictures of Silas: one at our table at home before we left:

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And one of Silas in the backyard sand pile after being buried by his (first, once-removed) cousins Elijah and Benjamin:

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On the route of the Hiawatha

Sherrie and I had a fun adventure this week. We traveled with our friends the Webres (and Marie’s sister Julie) to the Idaho panhandle to ride the Hiawatha bike trail (Ride the Hiawatha). The Hiawatha is an old train route which goes over trestles and through tunnels. The bike ride is about 15 miles long and all downhill, and it’s over well-maintained gravel roads, so it’s easy and fun.

Here we are at the trailhead; the smiles never left our faces.

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And here’s the rest of the crowd:

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Immediately on beginning the trail, you enter a 1.5 mile long tunnel which is not lit and in which “rain” falls from the ceiling (there were no monsters, just a few puddles):

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The tunnel was cool (45-50 degrees), even chilly, as we began our ride.

The ride has 10 tunnels and seven trestles; here’s one of the trestles:

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The road over the trestles is wide and quite stable; I’m sure it would have been more interesting in the old days when it was rickety wood. It was fun to look over the edge, if a bit scary:

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The scenery is gorgeous, but we were a little disappointed that smoke from fires all over Oregon, British Columbia, Washington and Idaho made the air smoky and diminished visibility, as you can tell from this photo (no blue skies to be seen):

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We stopped at one point to walk away from the trail a bit and see a stream coming off the mountain; the smiles on these faces say it all:

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After the ride is over, you could in principle ride back up (1000 foot climb over 15 miles wouldn’t be that bad), but we decided to take the shuttle back. The shuttle drops you off such that you have to ride back through the long tunnel at the beginning again. I absolutely LOVED it, as it was hot by then and the cool, refreshing air in the tunnel was great.

We never figured out why the trail is called the “Hiawatha,” but we learned a lot about train track development in the late 1800s, and we had a fun time together.

The next day, we went to the Coeur D’Alene (CDA) area for a little hiking and shopping. We first went to the Mineral Ridge trail (Mineral Ridge Trail). It’s a bit of climb to the top of the hill, but you get great views of Lake CDA from the top:

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Next, we went to Tubb’s hill (Tubb’s Hill Trail), right in/near downtown CDA. It’s a hub of activity for people to enjoy the lake. Lots and lots of folks swim on it’s beaches, and ride boats and jet skis near the shores:

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Sherrie and Julie and I scared up a whitetail deer on the north side of the trail. He was still in velvet and was 5-6 points on each side and beautiful. I didn’t get a picture because he bounded away rather quickly. I didn’t know whitetail live in central/northern Idaho …

Sherrie and I spent a little time one evening in the town of Wallace, ID, which is really the town that time forgot:

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Seriously, it’s like going back in time 50+ years. We ate at a BBQ place in the town center. Right near there is a manhole cover declaring Wallace ID as the “Center of the Universe.” Apparently, Wallace had a spat with the EPA over the safety of the water, etc. and the EPA (apparently) famously said, “If a thing cannot be disproven, it is thereby proven.” For a little light humor, seeĀ Wallace Idaho is the center of the universe.

Sherrie and I had the obligatory picture taken with the manhole cover:

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Fortunately, traffic is light enough that you can pose for such a photo in the center of town without fear of being run over.

One of the things that impressed us in Wallace is the number of petunia “balls” seen all over town:

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Many of them had automatic watering systems, but some didn’t, so Wallace must employ people (or they volunteer) to water and help make their town beautiful.