Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Not In Kansas Anymore!

As you can tell from any of these pictures, we're not in AZ anymore!  We are recently vacationing in the Midwest, and the rivers here actually have water in them!  In Arizona, the rivers are known as washes, normally bone dry though they might run for a few hours after a heavy rain during the monsoon season in July and August.  We had one of my college buddies come visit us for a day and with Michael being new to the area, took an afternoon paddleboat excursion on the Fox River.  The Midwest is being hit by what the local meteorologists are calling the summertime version of the Polar Vortex - temps have been 20+ degrees cooler than normal, which is lovely!  We've been enjoying nice weather in the mid-70s(F) for a couple days now.  The boats take one-hour excursions from Pottawatomie Park in St Charles once a day during the week, 3 times daily weekends.  The multiple levels are a great way to relax on the river and watch for birds as you cruise along.  Michael, last seen nearly 4 decades ago, looks about the same, shown at right.  He wore an Iowa shirt so I'd recognize him picking him up at the train station...

Of course, with it being summertime with LOTS of green here, I had to bring my IR camera along too, if only to demonstrate the striking differences from visible-light photography.  I've mentioned this camera a few times - instead of an IR-blocking filter that most cameras have, it was modified to block visible light and pass IR light to the detector.  So it is like shooting the IR film of a decade ago, which are generally no longer available.  The Wood effect generally shows healthy vegetation as white, sky and water as very dark.  You can compare the image shown at left with the visible color image above, taken a few minutes apart.  There are other subtle differences too - note the U.S. flag flying at the stern - while there is a bit of blue visible, the red and white stripes are indistinguishable!  Not to reveal any secrets, I believe the lady at left in the image may dye her hair - I've seen strange fluorescent-looking colors from dyed hair sometimes in the IR.

Back in the old days of photography using film, I often perused the old venerable Kodak information books.  I read about the Wood effect 4 or more decades ago, and I can still remember another effect of IR - the longer wavelengths penetrate further into the skin, and I remember seeing photos showing veins normally invisible.  While I was recalling this, a nearby teenager with short-shorts supplied an appropriate amount of skin, and I discretely shot a photo of her leg, not knowing what I would get.  Well, after stretching a considerable amount, look what shows up!  The color palette just happened to come out about right, but the subcutaneous veins are readily shown.  I also shot the lovely ladies that joined us on the trip - Melinda and Carolyn came along - note that Melinda's sunglasses don't absorb much in the IR...

The hour literally flew by!  Shown here is a photo of Carolyn and Melinda to compare to the IR shot above...  We saw a couple egrets and herons fishing near the shore, along with some goldfinches, cedar waxwings, and a few other of our normal population of birds.  The captain of the vessel, shown in an HDR image at right (3 exposures of different lengths to preserve details in shadows and highlights) says he has been plying these waters for 28 years!  That is a lot of trips along a couple miles of the river - the only length deep enough to navigate...  While we were told it was the only trip that afternoon, we noticed a couple hours later while at dinner that the boat was going out again for a sunset cruise - likely a private event.  Now THAT would have been fun too!

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