Sunday, July 11, 2010
Sunday, November 29, 2009
The sky is amazing tonight, offering many excellent photographic opportunities. I spent a few minutes out with my litte digital, toying around and discovering that it does a decent job with the dark. I'm more in tune with my 35mm EOS1V, but it's big, heavy and pretty complex...as I was just shooting in the back yard I couldn't justify dragging out the dozer when a shovel would suffice.
What did I learn tonight? I learned that I really like digital photography a lot more than I realized! GASP! I aboslutely adore working in the darkroom, but I have to admit that my eyes are starting to look at some of the DSLR's that are out there. I can justify buying a new camera you know. I mean can you really have to many cameras? No. The answer is no.
Enough from me. The above photos were shot tonight using my little Canon Power Shot A720. I have to give the little camera credit~for something that I stick in my pocke or randomly throw in my backpack, it did a pretty good job.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Life really can pass by in the blink of an eye. I was just sitting here being a bit introspective and retrospective and I was hit with a rather astounding epiphany: it has been damn near 25 years since I watched my first hang glider launch off of McClouds Mountain. I knew right then and there, from the moment that the pilot tucked in his harness, made a left turn and started climbing in the ridgelift, that I wanted to fly. To this day that desire is still there.
McClouds is still there as well, though under a name deemed apropos for selling real estate, and more than likely closed to flying forever. A glider hasn't launched from the 2,500' MSL cliffs in over a decade now-houses have been built and the road to the top improved. It's almost as if someone is trying to kill this wonderful and sacred mountain. In many ways they have succeeded. Today it is a budding upscale community with condos in the early phases of implementation. It makes me feel as if I'm standing at the bedside of a dying brother.
Nonetheless, McClouds looms large in the thoughts of several people...I know Clyde, Jim, Judy, Tip and a host of others, myself included remember a time when things were better on the mountain- a time when gliders soared the sacred ridges of McClouds, unbound by development and the signs posted. No hang gliders it read. Today the sign has been replace by an attractive and upscale stone and steel gate-which opens at the push of a button...a button owned by those who do not fly.
This, my friends, is a tragedy.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I've spent the last two days working my ass off. The foodservice business gets hectic around the holidays. After the family dinner tomorrow, I'm going to work to start cooking for a group on Friday..sounds like a bitch but in all honesty it's not at all. I view food preparation & presentation as a form art, so for me it is an extension of my photography or what ever other outlet of expression I'm seeking/using at the current time.
Speaking of photograpy, I've a chance to go to the SEC championship game in Atlanta next weekend! As a rule I'm not much of a sports fan; the things that I consider sports fall into the hang gliding, caving, outdoors categories, but as a lover of photographic expression I can't deny that there is opportunity to capture some incredible images at a sporting event such as a football game. That, I must admit, excites me! Some of the images of players at critical moments in a game can not only be inspiring, but truly beautiful...I do hope I'm able to capture some of the raw beauty of that type of emotion! We shall see.
Now, on to the book flying. Over the last few days I've been reading Hang Gliding For Beginner Pilots and Understanding the Sky. The former deals with all the basics of learning to fly hang gliders~everything from ground handling and proper launch technique to landing and flare timing. There is so much more than that included in the book- I shall not waste many words deconstructing it, but I will say this: if you want to learn to fly hang gliders start with proper instruction and READ THIS BOOK! The latter deals with a subject that is near and dear to any person that uses the atmosphere to gain altitude by means of engineless flight: meteorology. I think this book give enough information that after a bit of close reading and note taking the average joe would be able to go outside, look at the sky and pretty much give an accurate analysis of atmospheric conditions from just a glance. For me I got to experience the zen of seeing cumulus clouds at all different stages of life-from birth to death. Indeed this ball of dirt is surrounded by a vast ocean of beauty, both serene and terrible...tis called the sky.
Monday, November 23, 2009
As far back as I can remember I've had dreams of flight. Even as a child my head was in the clouds~my favorite game was running in circles with outstretched arms, pretending to be a bird. That dream has never left...Though I had the chance to live that dream and I walked away.
In August of 1996 I took my first tandem flight at Lookout Mountain Flight Park. I remember that morning as if it were yesterday. Being towed aloft and then set free to gently float back down to the LZ was probably the closest thing to a religious experience that I've ever had. I knew right then and there that this type of flight offered a freedom and purity that no other could. I knew right then that hang gliding was for me.
So a few months later I signed up (Yeah, the tight wad waited until LMFP had a holiday special on flight packages) and by January of 07 I was on the training hills. Instruction was a dream come true~I was putting all the theory to use and learning to feel the wing (and as anyone who has ever flown a glider will tell you-it's a FEEL sort of thing) From the level ground and learning to run with the glider to the small hill and the frustrations of learning to launch and eventually land on my feet (as opposed to skidding across a frosty field to a less that graceful halt) After nailing three launches and landings in a row, I graduated to the BIG hill and started learning the intricacies of properly turning a glider. I found out that it don't take much input to make the wing turn and that you will be past your target if you don't think ahead and roll out about halfway through the turn. I did these exercises for quite some time, then one fateful day Thor said today you get to do speed runs! OK, I said...so I followed his instruction, stuffed the bar, enjoyed the rush of speed, then landed. Back up and do it again. I look up the hill after the last speed run and see Thor waving...what the hell is that for I think. I go back up and he says You're good for the mountain. THUNK!!! What me, mountain. AWESOME. So off I go.
There would be no mountain flight that day~it was too windy. The next weekend I re-cleared. Conditions at the top tailing. I went through this cycle for quite sometime and then my business started picking up and before I knew it several months had passed. Then a friend died in an ultralight crash and my dream of flight slipped a little farther away.
Today I'm back. The business is established (or something) and the dead are, well, dead. It's later than I think and I can for sure say that this time it is really time to fly.