Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hamley Bridge Hotel Gig

Hamley Bridge Hotel. As the town's rail history gets serious around 1860, I'd guess the hotel dates from then. Looks kind of naked without a balcony though.
The pub was the venue for 'The Negotiators Duo", featuring singer and guitarist from my band. Here, they start rocking it up...

They made the most intense stage act I've seen for these types of duos...

Obvulessly enjoying themselves!

Hamley Bridge Hotel Gig II

Above,Hamming it up with the audience. Below, losing perspective in the wash of sound ...
Reflective moment ...
Front bar audience circa closing time...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Comet McNaught - Jan 27

These photos of Comet McNaught were taken on Saturday January 27 from the disused railway station in the town of Hamley Bridge. The obscuring effect of the light of the waxing moon (more than half full) was more than made up for by the absence of big city light polution. Apparently the comet was stunning at its zenith there.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Wedgetailed Eagle

I spotted this eagle soaring on the thermals above the hills alongside the road from Tarlee to Kapunda in the Midnorth. There were three in the region when I arrived, they departed after I'd taken several photos. This shot is clipped from the best photo they let me take. They are magnificent birds, wingspans of upto 5' being not uncommon. They can take pets and lambs without much difficulty. Once nearly shot out to extinction, it is nice to see they've pulled through.

Trip to Kapunda

On Saturday arvo I went for a trip from Hamley Bridge to Riverton to see relatives, and took a further sidetrip to visit Kapunda to visit the cemetary where my great grandfather is buried on my return. These towns are at what I would call the southern edge of South Australia's 'Mid North'. They lie a bit over an hour's drive from home. The above photo is a roadside shot, showing the hills above which I saw several wedgetailed eagles circling. The moon has just risen above the trees to the left.

This is a picture overlooking Kapunda, with the hospital complex on the left and the main town to midright. It is another panoramic shot, originally part of a 360' view taken from a marked lookout. Kapunda is Australia's 'oldest mining town', or so the sign says. It was once a major copper mine, but was drained to support Britain's effort in WWI. It survives now as an agricultural centre of over a thousand souls.

My great grandfather lies buried in Kapunda Cemetary. He no longer has a tombstone.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Southern Cross - Hamley Bridge

Me and my wife went up to Hamley Bridge last night. I went for a walk at one point of the evening and spent awhile on a disused rail platform, ostensibly to take photos of McNaught's Comet in the dark country sky. The darkest place I could find nearby was the railway station. Whilst there, I snapped this 25s exposure (ISO 100) of the Southern Cross above Platforms 1 and 2.

Hamley Bridge used to be a rail town with over 1000 people (last few decades of the 19th century) living there. Nowadays it's down to about 600. I'll be posting photos from my trip over the next few days I hope. And yes, there will be some more comet photos!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Australia Day Hero

This kid was one of many enjoying yesterday's public holiday at his local skate park. It was interesting to me that, having a camera with me labeled me as paedophile or potential in the eyes of many - in joking reference but the connection was there. Such a shame that our ability to participate freely with others in our world has (had to (?)) have been overtaken by security conscious insularity. Without interaction (limited by the habitual fear), how are we to learn otherwise?

The Regency Park Skate Park is an almost surreal collection of concrete shapes which takes up only a small section of this large public space. It forms part of the boundary of the 'park' area, the rest of the space being filled with golf course and a pub (where we had lunch). The central feature of the park is this artificial lake, behind it you might be able to make about about six separate games of cricket happening as maybe a couple of hundred people had their Australia Day lunch under the shade of the trees in the park.

Backyard Fungi

I was out the back working early in the morning on Australia Day (Jan 26 - a public holiday) when I noticed these little buggers had sprung up overnight in the backyard. You can see the moist soil that they've pushed up as they emerged still clinging to them (hadn't yet been dried out by the sun). Quite amazing how exhuberant even fungal life can be!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Comet McNaught - Jan 25

I've now taken several hundred photos of McNaught, over a total period of about 5 hours. My tripod and remote shutter control make this possible. I'm learning about technique and method. In this photo, the exposure time is 4s.

Comet McNaught Details - Jan 25

These three were taken over a 40 minute period. Exposure period is marginally higher (8s) than I had it the night before. I've kept sensitivity down to ISO 100. Both tail and 'flare' (caused by solar winds) are visible if you look closely.

In the following photo, the exposure period is 15 seconds.

Comet McNaught over Adelaide - Jan 25

My little obsession with our interplanetary traveller continues. My technique of capturing the images of it has improved, but that is counteracted by fact that it is growing dimmer to our eye as both it moves further away from us and the sun, and the moon grows steadily brighter.

Below is a photo taken within a minute of first sighting to the naked eye (about 40 min before the above two shots). I can make out the comet in the picture. Can you?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Comet McNaught - Jan 24

This was Comet McNaught tonight. I didn't have the exposure time set properly, too busy thinking about everything else. To the naked eye, at its best the tail was more visible than it has been until now. There can't be too many more nights when the shots will be great, the moon is nearly half full.

Comet McNaught - Jan 23

I only caught our friend McNaught as it approached the smog/light/atmosphere layer last night. Not only is it beginning to fade in terms of its own inherent light (counteracted to some degree by it being visible for longer after sunset), but the moon is definitelywaxing - and adding its obscuration to the whole affair. Apparently after tonight, it will start to fade to our eye. Can't complain so far!

Comet McNaught over Adelaide - Jan 23

I only managed to get a few rushed pic's last night. This was my favorite, even though the camera was tilting.

Comet McNaught over Adelaide - Jan 22

Comet McNaught details - Jan 22

The view on Jan 22 was about the best we've had, what with weather and clouds. The above is a relatively high zoom and displays McNaught's prominent tail (supposedly 100 million kilometers long).

It has been travelling through space for millions of years, and apparently won't be visible like this again for at least another 100,000 years. It's moving away from us at a speed of 60 km per second. At the moment it is about 145,000,000 km distant. These are amazing numbers, fill me with awe at the imensity of the Universe. And yet, when Comet McNaught first became visible that night ...

... it was an almost intimate feeling.

Southern Cross - Home

This was my balcony view of the Southern Cross at the time our view of Comet McNaught began to fade into the smog and light of Adelaide, as well as the amount of atmoshphere between eye and horizon. I set the exposure time and sensitivity settings on the camera to a lot less than those I used at Tanunda recently. Time would have been around 9.30 pm.

Real Rain Clouds Roll In

Although we had a bit of rain on Friday, Saturday saw a true monsoonal front roll over the Adelaide Plains and Hills. This was the view from the balcony as it did so. If you haven't gathered, I'm pretty excited about the fact that we then got about an inch of rain over the following two days!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Blacks a Fake - 2007 InterDominion Pacing Champ

Globe Derby Park

Last Saturday we went to watch the Interdominion Harness Racing Grand Final at Globe Derby Park, about a 30 minute drive from home. I'd never been to the races before. There were already a few people there when we got there.

The on-course concessions (above) and betting shops (below) were already humming along nicely. It would become hard to move in this area between races as the night wore on, but at around 5.30 pm it was still all pretty mellow.

The Back Straight

The evenings not all about betting and eating though, there's a race roughly every 30 minutes. In this photo, taken from where we'd parked our car on-course (very handy as a 'home base' for a long evening), 'Simplybeat Dechill' leads 'Roseworthy Lad' and 'Luck Moth' up the back straight and shows them in Race 2 that size isn't everything. 'Lucky Moth', by the way, went on to win at over 20 to 1, thus becoming our first successful bet.

Track Maintenance

The track has to be maintained between races. This is done by means of tractor and truck. The tractor drags a 'flail' of chains along, smoothing the sand for the next race. The truck is a water truck, lays down a spray to keep down the dust. Both vehicles rip around the track at the same time, occasionally in opposite directions. Which made for an interesting stunt show in itself for those that were watching.

First Final Prelude

Before we knew it we were up to Race 5 - the first of two finals on the card. The Seelite Windows & Doors InterDominion Trotting Final was worth $200,000 to the winner. It was preceeded with some ceremony, led off by local Kindguard Cavalry. They look real friendly, don't they?

A local cheerleading club then provided an escort to each horse as it entered the arena. Lined up, quite impressive.

There was the smell of finals in the evening air and the crowd, which had been steadily growing all the while, were beginning to get quite involved. No doubt there was some big money floating around by now - but we kept up our barrage of $1 bets.

2007 InterDominion Trotting Final

The trotting final was over 2645m from a 'standing start' (= rolling start under the new safety conscious rules). There was a lot of jockeying for position in the first couple laps (above). The winning driver, whose name I can't recall, threw up his hands as he crossed the line in the usual harness racing close finish.

Future Assets - Race 6

Before the Big Race

I heard there were around 12,000 people that came through the gates over the evening, an excellent crowd for the sport. The numbers peaked for the seventh race, the $500,000 InterDominion Pacing Final. Beside the Kindguard cavalry and cheerleaders, the South Australian Pipes and Drums band put in an appearance. They entered playing Scotland the Brave, followed up with Waltzing Matilda. Being married in a kilt in Scotland, I thought this was pretty cool!
And just in case you forgot that we were watching flesh and bone hurtling around the track, the ambulance did a few warmup laps with the horses.