Cold Dawns

It doesn't make much sense for me to keep a blog going, if subsequent posts are years apart. I know this, yet haven't taken the decision to just close this blog; over and done with, and that's the end of that.

Instead, let me add a little chapter to the ongoing story. My life is full and complicated for all the activities that take place, the interests that I have and the many journeys I make. It is lack of time and dedication that make me forget the blog, not lack of material.

So, let me then add a few words about the blessing that nature has offered us here in Holland. Winter is great this time around. We have cold spells and snow. Lots of it. Photo opportunities too many to count. And that has its effect on my Flickr site as a sheer endless stream of winter photo's dominate it at this time. It must be exhausting to viewers as the number of comments keep dwindling down. And that is a good thing in itself. It reminds me of the fact that I have been maintaining my Flickr account for my personal benefit and pleasure mainly. For me it is not so much a platform, as it appears to be for so many others. It serves rather as a convenient place, accessible anywhere, to keep a record of my photographic life for my own personal benefit.

The winter of 2009/10 has given me cause for pre-dawn treks through the Dwingelderveld national park, close to where I mostly work. The solitude I experience in the field, with only my camera and footsteps in the snow to join me, will stay with me for as long as I stay sane. In fact I'm sure it helps to keep me sane. I can recommend it to anyone.




Timecapsule, originally uploaded by Rob Millenaar.
What do you get when it rains for days on end in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai'i? A swollen Wailuku river and a torrent of water falling off the edge at Rainbow Falls. A popular spot for tourists to gape at nature's wonders, with an ever present rainbow to grace the countless photo's that are taken here. That is, when the sun is shining, which was rather rare last week. Compensating for the lack of a rainbow is the water itself. It has picked up so much sediment and soil that is has coloured itself red. Orange really!
Late one afternoon, when most of the tourists were gone, I set up for a couple of long exposure time shots, with tripod and neutral density filters. I got some wonderful results, like in the image, where an orange sheet appears to be draped from the rocks, framed in green tropical scenery. A time capsule of 18 seconds in the life of the waterfall, compressed into one image.
Hawai'i, and especially the windward side of the Big Island, will never seize to hold its spell on me.


Back in Hawai'i

Back in Hawai'i, originally uploaded by Rob Millenaar.
Ahh.. I'm back where I belong. That's how it felt, stepping off the plane in good old Hilo. Over the years I have been here so many times, that the place has grown on me. And now, for a month, I can call it home once more.

This picture is interesting in more than one way. First it shows the gorgeous backdrop of the lush vegetation along Honolii stream on the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island. I've been hiking along the stream for only a short stretch as there was no good trail to be found. I need to do some more exploring.

Second, you'll notice the extremely wide angle that is afforded by my new Sigma 10-20mm zoom lens, set at its shortest zoom distance. I'm sure this lens is going to give me lots of new photo opportunities. The old days of switching lenses all the time are back.

Third, note the weathered visage of the traveller. A latent flue keeps him from looking cheerful, even though in his heart he is. The rate at which wrinkles appear has recently increased substantially. Young at heart, old(er) at the outer layer. No worries!


A responsibility to awe.

Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope

We Astronomers

We astronomers are nomads,
Merchants, circus people,
All the earth our tent.

We are industrious.
We breed enthusiasms,
Honour our responsibility to awe.

But the universe has moved a long way off.
Sometimes, I confess,
Starlight seems too sharp,

And like the moon
I bend my face to the ground,
To the small patch where each foot falls,

Before it falls,
And I forget to ask questions,
And only count things.

Rebecca Elson

I haven't been updating my blog for quite a while. Lost the drive, the motiviation, the inspiration. Reading back Rebecca's poem triggered a renewed urge to revisit the blog. Since last post many things have happened: travelled to Hawaii twice and suffered the loss of my father in law.
No resolutions for the new year. Nevertheless, I hope to give the blog a bit more attention.



Anatomy of a cloud

Cloud panorama

When you reach a certain age you start to think that you've seen it all. All the kinds of weather that nature throws at you; the wind, rain and snow and all the shapes that rain clouds come in. Well, not so I my case. While I was setting up the measuring station in the El Leoncito National Park in West Argentina I did see clouds coming over and along the Andes montain range. And I did see that it started to look pretty menacing. There could be some rough and wet weather brewing. Fortunately it became clear a little later that the storm would pass North of me and so it did. You could hear some thunder, see a single lightning bolt, and there was a lot of wind. As the sun got lower and lower over the Andes, all of a sudden the cloud that by then had passed to the East was lit up yellow and orange by the light of the setting sun. I dropped everything, grabbed my camera and started snapping away. I have never seen such a sight before. I have seen some awesome skies over the Karoo desert, but this blew me away.
The picture is a panorama of three stitched photo's that give an idea of the extent of the rain cloud as it drifted away. Never say you have seen it all, because you may be surprised. Just like me!



It's a bird....

It's a bird....

I have been looking at the sky for all my life... Stargazing, checking the weather to go skydiving or glider flying. I never failed to see the many shapes that clouds come in.
The landscape of Holland is famous for its low hanging clouds as the old Dutch masters have painted so often. Holland is flat, no mountains are available to create the beautifully lens-shaped clouds of the Altucumulus Lenticularis family, like in this picture.
Being close to the Andes mountain range in Argentina as I write this, means that I am in the middle of this great Lenticular cloud factory. As the high winds get their wavy flows over and behind the mountains, the clouds form at the top of each wave. Constant winds cause stationary tops in the waves and therefore also stationary clouds: you will see these clouds for hours at the same position in the sky, only changing in shape or slowly dissolving.
Nature plays wonderful tricks in these shapes. One minute the lens in the picture was just that: a simple lens. The next minute it took the form of a dove. I was so lucky to be there and witness this phenomenon. The snowy peaks of the Andes formed the perfect backdrop for this scene.



Temporary home

Temporary home
Originally uploaded by Rob Millenaar.

The view of the Andes from the spot where I will be setting up the equipment is breathtaking...
It all started with a pleasant drive from San Juan to the El Leoncito location. All of a sudden an Andes vista opened up after passing the pre-Andes mountain range and upon entering the valley. Driving on, I had a view of the highest peak in America: the Aconcagua, just 40 meters short of 7000 meters high.
After passing the nice little town of Barreal I took a left turn heading for the El Leoncita National Park. Driving through lush green parkland you would not have the idea that you are at 2000 meters elevation. After climbing the dirt road I arrived at the CASLEO observatory, where I will live the coming weeks. Later that day I took this photo at the actual site where the measurements will be done. In the middle of a plane with small shrubs, and rimmed by relatively low hills, I will erect the antenna masts and set up the receivers. From there, for almost 180 degrees I have a gorgeous view of the Andes mountain range, including the second highest peak at 6770 meters, the Mercedario.
It will be hard to concentrate on the work at hand with so much impressive scenery around.