My attempt to document 40 sunrises in Eastern Cincinnati. Spring 2011.

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Sunrise 165: Eden Park (Humid Blood Red Sunrise & Brother Silhouettes)

First Light! The sun slowly rose up in the distance, a blood red across the eastern ridge line.

The eastern hills are becoming engulfed by the floating fog bank.

MMy phone rang at 5:30am, sharp. My brother and I had made plans to check out the sunrise this morning and I had already slept through my 4:45am alarm. Once I realized that I didn’t oversleep by too much, I set off towards Clifton to pick him up and set up shop at Eden Park. We were forecast this morning to have 7% cloud cover with 90% humidity so I knew that if we were lucky, we wouldn’t miss much as long as we could get to the park just before sunrise. With such a high humidity, the odds of seeing a twilight color show were slim to none.

I was hoping to take some sunrise silhouette pictures and asked my brother if he’d mind being the subject. He is well known for his large poof of hair and it also happens that he is cutting it all off in June. I knew that if I was going to make some silhouettes using him as the subject, we might as well do it before he gets his iconic afro trimmed back. I’m impressed – he even woke up a half hour early to pick it out!

We ended up making our way to Eden Park for several reasons. First, it is close to Clifton (where my brother lives). Second, I am long overdue for a visit to Eden Park, considering that my last (and only) sunrise at Eden Park was back in the autumn for Sunrise 115. Third, the overlook at Eden Park by the Twin Lakes is one of the absolute perfect locations for clear open sky views of the eastern sky. In my mind I was imagining colorful gradient atmospheres in the backdrop, but once again I found myself being caught up in a mindset that is months out of date! For the crisp, cool and dry sunrises of autumn, when the sky starts to light up an hour before sunrise, there are many shades of pinks, purples, yellows, oranges, and blues that fade to and from across the atmosphere in preparation for First Light. That’s what I was expecting, but of course today we ended up at the park during one of the most humid sunrises of the spring so far.

To give you an idea of what I mean, check out this comparison photo I whipped together. This is a photo of the same tree in Eden Park, taken during two sunrises 6 months apart. The only difference is the season in which they’re taken. The autumn photo was taken almost a full hour before sunrise when the sky is starting to light up in the clear atmosphere.

In the end, it still made for some great silhouette pictures, although they are of a different variety from what I expected. The lighting didn’t become appropriate until about 20 minutes after sunrise, a phenomenon that is only possible with a humid atmosphere. We had some fun with borrowed camera and checked out the reservoir ruins down in the lower section of Eden Park under Mirror Lake. Interestingly enough, I came home with a bottle of Maker’s Mark whiskey… funny story.

When we arrived in the park at 5:45am, there was only two other people in the park. The young couple were enjoying a nightcap and the view after what I can only imagine was a fun and exhausting Saturday night on the town Cincinnati. While my brother and I were starting our day with the sunrise, these two friendly people were ending theirs with the same ritual. The gentleman, who was quite friendly, asked if we wanted to help him out with his excessive amount of drinks that he was carting around after the night of partying. He apparently didn’t drink liqueur, and yet he found himself with a trunk full of top shelf whiskey, vodka, and mixers. Curiosity got the best of us (and besides, with my much taller younger brother with me, my cautious “it’s a trap!” senses didn’t trip). As it turned out he wasn’t joking, and he offered us a bottle of Crown Royal and Maker’s Mark to take home with us. I’m sure his motive wasn’t entirely altruistic as his lady friend was quite smitten at the generosity shown by our spirit handler. Who was I to turn him down? Thanks again Brandon, whoever you are. This next maker’s on the rocks is for you!

Speaking of generosity, I’d like to thank my friend J for letting me borrow his camera for the weekend. My wife is out of town visiting family while I’m stuck home working so I couldn’t use her phone for today’s post. J let me borrow his Canon SLR, and I have to say it’s quite a machine. I have no idea how to use it properly but it was difficult to take a bad picture, that’s for sure. Thanks again J!

My favorite picture of the morning. My brother watches as two ducks come in for landing at Eden Park’s twin lakes behind us. We see the eastern “Bend in the River” in the background, with a sloping Kentucky hill on the right and Ohio’s Mt. Tusculum (I think) to the left.

We arrived in the park with cautious anticipation, given that we were about 45 minutes behind schedule. Fortunately for us, the humid sunrise arrived late. About 5 minutes before sunrise the sky still hadn’t taken on much color.

My brother makes his first appearance, looking out across the Ohio River into the mist. Up until now all of my silhouette pictures have been most successful before sunrise on clear days. We can tell from this picture, however, that there simply isn’t enough light yet to block out the foreground in blackness. Each sunrise presents its own unique challenges. This humid sunrise was no exception and it turned out that the best lighting would come about 20 minutes after sunrise. Look at that hair! Thanks again for being a good sport, broseph.

On these damp, wet, 90%+ humidity mornings the sun just seems to hang in the air. You can stare right at it and it doesn’t hurt. There is no pre-sunrise halo, no opening display. The moisture in the atmosphere blocks all but the more direct of sunlight. I really like this camera’s sensor because on my old canon point-and-shoot I could never get a deep red color on a humid sunrise. It feels much more analogous to a film camera.

Within a few minutes, the sun rose up through the misty layer in the lower atmosphere and basked the park in early morning sunlight. Here we can see the fog bank across the bend in the river beginning to take shape. As the air warmed up, the fog became thicker. I imagine Alms Park would have been a foggy wonderland by this point.

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Sunrise 164: Ault Park (Soft Orange Spring Twilight)

Sunrise 164: Orange & Pink

This morning’s sunrise was a prolonged session of pink and orange. The temperature was a cool 60F and the distant hills were laced with light mist. I was hoping for a bright pink sunrise like the kind we saw last week. While the colors this morning were certainly bright, the palette had more orange than pink. The park was quiet this morning, too, which is surprising considering how active the birds have been over the last few days. I did see a single jogger in the park who stopped by to check out the sunrise, but other than that it was a solitary morning in the park.

If you’re connected to Ault Park Sunrise’s facebook page, you are now aware that my camera recently broke and I’m in the market for a new one. I’m putting together postcards featuring various photos from the last year of the project. They’ll be available for purchase and the proceeds will be put towards some new hardware. The silver lining to my camera’s untimely death is that I now have a true motivation to organize and collect the photos from the last year. I’m hoping to have at least 5 different postcard designs, some featuring individual pictures and others featuring themed “montages”. I’ll have more information up soon, but if you’re interested be sure to keep your eye out!

The other reason I mention the camera difficulty is because I’ve been trying to figure out how I’m going to be able to continue with the project until I get the new camera! My wife suggested that in the meantime I could use her phone to take pictures (mine is quite out of date and doesn’t take very good pictures). So this morning that’s what I did. The pictures didn’t turn out too bad at all, although I don’t have much control over color settings. The zoom and macro don’t work too well but hey, it’s better than nothing!

Heekin Overlook against a soft purple twilight sky

Day break across the Little Miami River Valley

Sunrise 164 was colorful and bright. The humidity created a prolonged twilight that was filled with oranges and soft pinks. Interestingly, the pinks were subtle this time around, as opposed to the bright magenta that I would have expected. I believe the humidity has something to do with it.

Here we see the young Tree of Heaven that is coming into full bloom! The flowers are white and the entire bouquet is rather large.

Sunrise 162: Ault Park (Warm Front Twilight)

First Light; Sunrise 162

Boy, it sure felt good to get back on the bike this morning. I’ve been so busy at work over the past two weeks that I haven’t been able to muster up the energy (or time) for some early morning sunrise rides. It’s an interesting thing because I recognize it as entirely my fault, but sometimes once you get into a habit it’s hard to break.

After a late night yesterday and a surprise calm in the series of thunderstorms that came through the region, I decided that I just had to get out this morning. After painstakingly crawling out of bed (OK it wasn’t that bad!) and seeing lightly scattered clouds in the early twilight sky, I set off towards the park through the misty streets.

The air was warm and wet this morning. We had a chilly streak late last week with temperatures dropping down into the 40s again. Last night we saw a monster of a thunder storm and I’m going to take a wild guess and say it was a warm front. The clouds were puffy and humid at twilight and there was mist hanging around by the edges of the forest. A low lying cloud bank over the horizon blocked most of the pink twilight colors but made for a powerful moment when the sun peaked over the cloud bank about 5 minutes beyond day break.

It’s always so surprising to me when I notice just how lush the forests around here are in the spring. On mornings like today, with the moisture on the pavement and the mist seeping out of the forest, the plants’ foliage seem like they are swollen with water. I almost feel claustrophobic at the overlook when I compare the view to the naked silhouettes of the winter sunrises. I’m sure our warm winter only helped to add a multiplier to the strength of the local foliage. I suspect we’ll have an intense kudzu season on our hands by the middle of summer.

Here we see the young Tree of Heaven down by the overlook. At twilight the sky was opening up with light but the lower atmosphere was still rather dark due to the cloud bank that was blocking the early rays of twilight.

In the far corner of the sky I could begin to make out the orange highlights that signified that the sun was beginning to rise behind the cloud bank far, far away.

Rays of light started to burst from behind the clouds across the misty valley. Here we can catch a glimpse of them.

A close up of the rays of light, jutting out from just beyond the lower cloud bank. This view usually only lasts for a minute or so and is a sure sign that the sun is just around the corner.

A vertical shot, showcasing the upper atmospheric shadows and open blue skies. What a beautiful morning it is, indeed.

The lower overlook certainly provides the best viewpoint as we move into the May sunrise season.

A final shot from Ault Park’s Heekin Overlook. We can see the lush leaves silhouetted against the humid Little Miami River Valley. A typical spring day in Cincinnati at a warm and wet 55F :)

Sunrise 161: Ault Park (Spring Twilight Colors, Tree of Heaven’s Springtime Coat)

Sunrise 161, featuring the Tree of Heaven

Daybreak came late this morning.

Now that the sunrise time has crossed below the 7:00am threshold, it is easier for me to make a trip to the park without worrying as much about my morning schedule (I’ve been busy for the last few weeks!). The air was brisk this morning at 44F, a temperature that I only just now realized. I thought it was nippy but without a breeze it felt warmer than it really was! Armed with hot coffee and my bike, I found myself up at the park about a half hour before sunrise.

The colors this morning were beautiful. Mixing them with a dynamic true spring atmosphere (we had big storms yesterday) made for a swirling concoction of twilight cloud cover. There was a low lying cloud bank that blocked the sun for a few moments, but it eventually swept into the distance and allowed the sunlight to come through across the horizon.

Unlike the summer and autumn sunrises, where the sky is crystal clear and the atmosphere lights up an hour before sunrise, these spring sunrises are humid in a sky full of obstacles. This morning’s sunrise didn’t hit peak colors until just 10 minutes before day break, which helps explain why I was so caught off guard by finding out that the summer’s sunrise starts much more early than I was used to.

I visited my old friend, the Tree of Heaven down at the lower overlook. She is full of spring life and, to my surprise, made for another beautiful silhouette against the sunrise that has moved into the left most part of the horizon. I had thought that maybe I wouldn’t be using the young tree as a sunrise subject until next winter (when the sun has moved back across the sky to be directly behind her) but was wrong.

Arriving at the park, the crescent moon hangs low in the sky and the colors are just getting started.

Heekin Overlook is dark and chilly and we can see a light fog sitting down in the valley behind.

I was worried at first that the cloud bank may block all of the best colors, but that worry soon faded.

Heading down to the lower overlook to get a better vantage point, I see that there is more light over to the left. Has the sun really moved *that* far already?

The Tree of Heaven adorning her early spring coat. Can you see the little flower pods on the tops of the stalks? She’s almost ready to bloom! I am wondering if I could harvest some seeds and grow my own little tree of heaven. They’re considered pests in a lot of areas (probably including around here) but she holds a special place in my heart (you’ll see why in a minute)…

This left-most branch of the young Tree of Heaven was mostly ignored by myself during the series of silhouettes (see below). Now, with the sun having moved across the horizon, I find that it is making an excellent silhouette subject of its own.

Pictures from this past winter of this young Tree of Heaven (See Sunrise 135 through Sunrise 150), included for good measure:








 (Wow! I forgot I had taken that many… I’m sure I’ve missed some, too.)

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Sunrise 160(!!): Ault Park & East End (Featuring Guest Author Jim Coyne, East End Sunrise Loop)

A somewhat abandoned rail line runs along the Ohio River, connecting ancient industrial sites that are now mostly defunct. More than likely this rail line’s destiny is to end up as a bike trail, connecting parts of Eastern Cincinnati for a new kind of traffic. Ironically, this is the same line that would have ran through R.K. LeBlond’s old East End factory to deliver raw parts for his gun lathe machining.

Boats hangin’ out at the Ohio River Launch Club on the river. In the backdrop we see the hills of Eastern Cincinnati across the “Bend in the River”.

In honor of the 160th sunrise (4x the original project goal!) and our newly arrived spring season, I’m proud to say that we have something special today. This morning’s post features a guest writing from a friend. Jim Coyne is a freelance writer and life enthusiast. Jim has several projects he is involved with, including a book schedule for release in 2012 titled Wild Harmony, “That’s what I Believe” podcast, and a blog where he documents his travels and experiences as he explores our relationship between life, experience, and nature.

I asked Jim a few months back if he’s like to write an article (or do a collaboration) relating to Ault Park Sunrise. I hadn’t heard much about it after we originally talked, but then out of the blue on the first day of Spring I received the following written piece from Jim. If it resonates with you be sure to check out Jim’s homepage & podcast (url below).

Title: “Springful Intentions”

Author: Jim Coyne
Homepage: http://www.jimacoyne.com
Podcast: That’s What I Believe iTunes | Homepage

Spring is now. Ideas will be flowing and with the appropriate people, greater action. I wonder if time flies faster during the darker months of winter. We spend too much time indoors and come up with as many rationalizations as possible to stay away from the chilly day. Like the cave people of old, we forget the progression of the sun and fall into a routine of indiscriminate acts. There is less inspiration to be found and less motivation under a roof.

Ken Kesey spoke of the graduation from the acid tests in Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I am certain most people misunderstood his intent. Far too many get stuck in their ways, forgetting what works and what does not. What Kesey was really getting at was that we needed to move on from the introspection and live life through the greatest imaginations of past experience. Instead of repeating what others have done or going to the same vacation destination, why not turn 180 degrees and move forward?

Some other people may say such an act is moving backwards. Hardly anything comes from listening to what others are saying. They are not at fault. Do not take it personal. Whenever someone sees another heading toward something which appears out of reach to them, they discourage their movement. Even if it is positive criticism or a warning not to make the mistake others have made, they do all they can to dissuade that person from continuing on a new path. All these conflicting voices lead an individual to desperate confusion. That person then stretches out on the couch and curses all that may have caused the status quo. What use is that? Will a great feeling come from being still? Absolument pas! Get up and go outside immediately. There are no more excuses.

Kesey wanted people to move on from the drug fueled lifestyle. Instead of seeking truth in the mental perturbations that come with lysergic acid diethylamide, realize the present moment and the natural beauty of possibilities. Think of how much is out there that will never be discovered by humans. The dark limitless universe through the blue sky of day on Earth. The tiny molecular cracks in the ground which may hold greater artistic value than any museum painting.

Let the sunrises of each morning spark a creative and thoughtful life. Gaze upon the horizon as it grows in bright hues and spectacular revelation. Accept that you will not be able to witness it all at once. Relax and realize how fortunate you are to be standing amongst such a magnificent feat of the natural world. Take another moment and prepare for the day ahead with a firm grip on what you are doing. Who cares what sounds realistic? Whatever wild thought comes to mind, go with it. Even better, share the idea with another person or at least tell them about the sunrise which spurred the line of thinking. Then act.

Thanks for reading!

This morning’s sunrise was, I’ll admit, quite boring. After missing one of the most vibrant twilight displays (I was 10 minutes too late after setting my alarm incorrectly!) that featured pink and orange bands racing through the eastern sky, I had great hopes for a colorful sunrise. The misty and wet atmosphere created this thick haze that for whatever reason lit up the sky in early twilight but snuffed out the colors as sunrise approached. I realized rather quickly that the sunrise was going to be non-existent, so I set off to explore the lower valley and the Linwood / East End area on the way to Lunken Airfield. Inspired by Jim’s writing and the 160th sunrise post, I found it rather fitting that I would find myself exploring some familiar areas along the quiet streets running through Little Miami & Ohio River valleys.

After an impressive twilight display, the only sunrise colors we got were a small pink highlight. You can see it over there on the left.

Considering the route I am about to embark on, I look out across the valley towards Lunken Airfield. In 20 short minutes I will have descended down into the valley and made it to my destination. You can almost see the bench that sits by the Lunken trail through the dark, warm, and misty atmosphere.

The recent rainstorm has battered the small dogwood blooms in the park. I am finding myself drawn to the dogwood trees this spring. They’re colorful and smell great, and I really like how the tree creates these groupings of flat flowering branches. Rather than bunch up in somewhat of a sphere, the flowers align themselves along a plane parallel to the ground. It’s an aesthetically pleasing effect.

After dropping down into old Linwood, a village that has all but disappeared as an independent entity after slowly being absorbed by the the urban residential expansion of Eastern Cincinnati in the past century, I stopped to ponder once again this Sonada Cigar mosaic. I have explored the history of this mosaic in another sunrise post but still have not gotten to the bottom of it. The mosaic is old, that’s for sure, but even three years ago (before this building’s renovation) Google Street View shows that this mosaic was not present. Where it originally came from, and why it’s now here I have no idea. It’s beautiful though!

It also looks like someone is getting the inside ready for business!

Continuing down Eastern Ave, we come across Double Barrel Brewing Co. This is a brand new brewery that hasn’t opened yet. I can’t wait!

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Sunrise 159: Ault Park (1-year Anniversary; Sidewalk Chalk Sunrise?)

First Light @ Sunrise 159

This beautiful sidewalk chalk art adorns the walkway in front of Ault Park’s central lawn on this one-year anniversary of Ault Park Sunrise. A spring sunrise tribute to the celestial titans? An innocent piece of work created by a young artist on a lazy Easter Sunday? Perhaps a professional installation done by a world master! Another mystery that will likely never be resolved.

Seriously, though, it’s a pretty neat piece of work. Well done mysterious Cincinnatian artist!

Macro Chalk. Even the moss between the stones got a color bath. With no rain being forecast for this week, perhaps this temporary art piece will last through this weekend.

It’s hard to believe, but Ault Park Sunrise is one year old! This past year has taught me so much in so many areas. I’ve gained a new appreciation of my local community and the larger city as a whole. It’s also been the first year where I have watched the seasons pass with careful diligence and focus, something that can easily slip by as we focus on our day to day lives. I’m only one sunrise away from 160, which would have made for a great coincidental time stamp but that will have to wait until later in the week. I also have a small queue built up of interesting posts, including an essay from a guest writer, some beautiful pictures of the Ault Park’s blooms from a friend (which have now faded into memory), and some historical pictures of a local estate sent to me by a fellow Cincinnatian that sheds some light onto the history of one of the large estates in the area. Also coming up is Sunrise 158, which one may notice is missing from the front page. I’ve been working on it for the last week but unfortunately I haven’t finished it. Rather than continue not doing morning rides while it’s in the hopper (I don’t like posts falling behind lest they never get published), I decided to just put it on the “draft” list and get on with Sunrise 159.

I woke up this morning after a long holiday weekend (following a long work week) with a yearning for a sunrise ride. The ride was brisk and I actually had to turn around after my initial departure to get a sweatshirt. I stopped by UDF for a coffee (freefil Monday) and was on my way. The sky was crisp and clear to the east, but there was a slow moving cloud front moving in from the west. As the sunrise arrival came near, the cloud bank continued to slip further into the  eastern twilight sky, making for an interesting sky dynamic that was changing through the colorful early morning show. The sunrise itself was a nice deep orange with a few pink highlights that briefly dashed across the impending cloud bank.

The most surprising thing to me is just how quickly spring has arrived. It’s been just over two weeks since I visited Ault Park (Alms Park was my most recent visit before we left for Charleston), and yet the overlook is lush with foliage and the trees are well on their way to having a full spring coat of greenery. I’m also pretty excited about the sunrise time that continues to push earlier into the morning. Sunrise 159 clocked in at 7:09am and it will only get earlier as we march into summer.

One of the best parts about exploring a city park after a weekend, and in particular a holiday weekend with great weather, is finding the leftover markers of human activity. Sometimes there is trash, but more often than not there is something else: sidewalk chalk art! This morning I found plenty to entertain along the main walkway that runs along the center lawn in front of the pavilion. I was amused by the video game inspired “MarioKart” starting line. It was even complete with a set of “?” boxes 60 yards up the sidewalk, whose purpose is to give the player that runs over them an item like a green shell, banana peel, or even star power.

Behind the Mariokart tribute there was another piece of artwork that appears to have been left by an artist with a bit more patience and a steady hand. I found myself quite moved by the artwork, especially after I considered that the subject of the work appears to be a sun with its rays bursting out from the center of the tile into a blue sky. The artist (or artists) carefully colored each individual brick in the sidewalk and were even symmetrically mindful. I find it so interesting that this artwork has appeared on the morning of Ault Park Sunrise’s one year anniversary. I’ll just try to not think too hard about it :).

I arrived at the park just as the twilight backdrop was coming into full bloom.

The twilight sky was just beginning to take on an orange gradient as the east-moving overhead cloud bank threatened to block out the sunrise.

Has it just been two weeks since I last saw this Tree of Heaven? She was the subject of many winter photos, and already she has a healthy coat of green growth. Until next winter, old friend.

Just before sunrise there was this vertical column of pink that shot up through the sky. Here you can kind of see it to the middle/left of the picture.

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Sunrise 157: Alms Park (Misty Hills, Tall Oaks, Spring Blooms)

A unique lighting situation @ Sunrise 157

A hard climb to Alms Park but the view makes it worth it!

Are these magnolias? (Nope. Dogwood!) They’re so small and the other magnolias have lost their blooms so I’m not sure…

Rain-battered yellow blooms race to fill up as much forest floor as possible before their taller brethren block out all the light.

I woke up Sunday morning with a penchant for a sunrise. After last week’s surprisingly beautiful spring sunrise (and subsequently & understandingly the most popular post yet so far of the project), I spent the rest of the week working early and ignoring the rainy & stormy mornings. After all, I didn’t feel it was appropriate to push such a beautiful set of pictures further down the front page unnecessarily! :).

This morning’s sunrise was certainly a unique one. I experienced a strong dose of nostalgia because I haven’t visited Alms Park for over three months! The last post featuring Alms Park was Sunrise 127, featuring the *incredibly lucky* cubic frost crystals. It is probably the most viewed picture I’ve taken for this project due to it’s popularity on the social news site reddit.com where it hit front page and was likely viewed by a couple hundred thousand people, if not more. I’m not sure of the numbers because wordpress doesn’t track individual pictures. Here’s the picture from that fateful day when the day break light was perfect and my camera just so happened to focus on the exact right spot:
(Cubic Ice Crystals on Clover; Sunrise 127)

So it came as no surprise that as I snaked my way down through Mt. Lookout and into the thickly forested residential neighborhood between Delta & Linwood Ave, it felt as if I was meeting an old friend. The route to Alms Park from Mt. Lookout is quiet and full of life (both of the human kind and the natural type). The old residential through-ways were originally designed for high volume so they are wide and smooth. When the Grandin Viaduct was torn down sometime in the past half-century, traffic volume dropped off and now the neighborhood roads are serenely peaceful in the morning before sunrise. The area features one of the oldest planned suburban neighborhoods (dating back to the 1920s or so) and the designers were tactfully mindful of the local forest. At times, the ride to the par almost feels as if you’re traveling through a small tucked away neighborhood in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

The route to Alms Park is also one that displays the challenge of Cincinnati’s terrain quite nicely. The entire route is a slow climb up to the the peak of the mountain from the basin of the valley that Mt. Lookout sits in. Just before the entrance to the park, at which point you’ve already climbed to the peak elevation, the road takes a steep dive down through a patch of old forest where the air is always noticeably humid and cold. At the base of this drop is the entrance to Alms Park, where one must climb another 200ft up a steep hill to the overlook.

I always feel an incredible rush of clarity when I finally reach that peak. It’s a route that’s short but also hard to rush. By the time you reach the top you’re surrounded by the ethos of Alms Park: The Forest. I’ve mentioned it in posts past, but Alms Park and Ault Park have such good balance when viewed side by side. Ault Park is organized, designed, open, symmetric, accessible, full of lawn & gardens, and the epitome of a well planned city park. Alms Park is tucked away, organic & asymmetric, cut out of the forest, filled with huge oak & pine trees with only a small garden by the pavilion. Ault Park has a sunrise shelter, Alms Park has a sunset shelter. The forest is around you in Alms Park, unlike Ault Park where the forest is held back to the boundaries of the park so that the beautiful gardens can take center stage. In Alms Park the forest is around you & above you. In short, Alms Park is the yin to Ault Park’s yang.

When I started off for Alms Park, there were clear skies above me. It seemed, however, that change was in the air.
Looking west up Erie Ave, heading to Alms Park in Mt. Lookout

I made a detour in the neighborhood behind Alms Park. One of the “No Outlets” has a nice cliff view of the eastern sky. At this point the sky is still relatively clear but that will soon change as the sunrise heats up the valley. The mist rises up into Alms Park, flooding the hillside with fresh moisture. I’m still convinced that the fog provides a micro climate on this hillside that isn’t well understood. It’s just… so lush.

Looking down Grandin Ave. Half a century ago there was a bridge at the end of this street. It was torn down at some point, turning this wide residential thruway into a quiet neighborhood street. There’s not a lot of historical documentation on the so-called “Grandin Viaduct”.

I always forget about this beautiful oak tree in the front lawn of St. Ursula Villa school. I wish I had spent a bit more time here over the winter, but I’m glad that I got this picture of the tree as it just begins to plup out in its spring coat.
Here’s one from the late autumn when the yard was frozen over and the dew had turned to crystals:
From Sunrise 122 (A great post, check it out)

Another pic from Sunrise 122:
 Frost & Oak

Apparently I’m really drawn to this tree in the fog… here’s another one:
The same oak but from a different angle… from Sunrise 108 (another foggy alms park ride from the autumn)

A twilight gradient behind the century oak.

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Sunrise 156: Ault Park (The Pavilion’s Alignment With the First Day of Spring…)

The weeping cherry grove at sunrise in Ault Park

The late sunrise colors turned into a slurry of pinks and purples, kind of like an Easter palette.

An aligned sunrise behind Ault Park Pavilion

Happy first day of Spring! And also, it’s official. Ault Park (through the symmetrical axis about the pavilion) can be considered to be aligned with the first day of spring. More specifically, it is aligned with the location of the sun about 10 minutes after sunrise on the first day of spring, allowing for a beautiful view down the hill and across the lawn.

I was hoping to make this morning a nice quick trip up to the park. The sunrise was calm and quiet in an atmosphere that had a soft mixture of colors. It wasn’t until the actual sunrise, however, that the sky started to light up and the clouds danced in an illuminated atmosphere.

As I mentioned yesterday, I had hoped to make it up to the park this morning to check in on the pavilion’s alignment with the sun. I must say that at first I was quite surprised, and frankly a bit confused. You see, yesterday I believed that the sun had risen to the right of the center of the pavilion. Well, today it rose to the left of the center of the pavilion. At first I thought that maybe I had it all wrong – that the pavilion was not actually aligned to the first day of spring. Well, as it turns out I was thrown off by the fact that the sun does not rise straight up into the sky. The sun actually rose in a diagonal, placing it front and center between the center two pavilion columns by about 10 minutes after sunrise. Once I figured this out I was much more relieved. It took me 156 sunrises to figure out that the sun doesn’t rise straight up – something that makes sense when you think about it but never encroached into my frontal consciousness.

I got lucky with some beautiful shots of the pavilion from across the lawn. With the sun’s intense rays making my camera use a high aperture, the effect is always a pleasant one – silhouettes and dynamic clouds.


The early twilight sky. Dark, calm, and quiet… well quiet if you don’t count the ridiculously loud orchestra of bird activity.

About ten minutes before sunrise I took off from the overlook to the main feature of this morning’s sunrise… the Ault Park Pavilion

From the pavilion the lawn had lit up nicely. We can see the park crew out and about on this fine first day of spring.

“Where’s the sun? Could it be to the right of center? I sure hope not…”

“Oh crap. I missed it…”

“Wait a second… something funny’s going on around here”

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Sunrise 155: Ault Park (Stormy Twilight; Weeping Cherry Groves)

Believe it or not, this is a GREEN magnolia blossom. I’ve never heard of such a thing! I may be mistaken, however, because I can’t find many references to a “green” magnolia on the internet. I’ll check back in at a later date to confirm.

In the weeping cherry grove off of Observatory Rd, a curious young female doe ponders my neon green t-shirt.

(Check out the sister post that hit the news stands about half an hour ago: Sunrise 154)

I’ll admit, I was pretty darned excited about the sunrise this morning. The atmosphere had a rich mix of cloud species with an open atmosphere behind it. It had all the pieces needed for a truly unique and majestic sunrise. In the end, it was a pretty neat sunrise but none of the early magentas, pinks, and purples made a very strong appearance. There was a thick low lying cloud bank that blocked most of the early rays of light before they could penetrate into the upper atmosphere above Ault Park.

Now that I know the secret behind Twilight Sunrises, however, I’m really looking forward to this spring. I mean just look at all these clouds!

As I arrived in the park, about a half hour before sunrise, the lower horizon was showing a deep red color. I was hoping it would fade into the upper atmosphere, but alas it remained confined to the lower horizon.

It did make for an interesting show, however. The sky stayed mostly the same for about half an hour until the backdrop suddenly lit up in a teal blue color as the sun rose behind the clouds.

The upper atmosphere made for a nice bright backdrop to the lower layers of clouds.

In the distance, we see a forest island in the midst of a river-of-fog.

That’s not water, it’s fog!

Lots of cloud action in the sky this morning… such a perfect opportunity for a breathtaking sunrise. The stars did not align but it makes that rare magenta sunrise that much more beautiful. Still… I can’t really complain. This morning’s sunrise was beautiful in its own right.

A plane takes off against the dramatic sunrise sky.

After the sunrise, I swung by the pavilion to check on the sun’s location relative to the alignment of the building. I was afraid that maybe I’d missed the “perfectly aligned sunrise” sometime this weekend. I was relieved to find that the sunrise isn’t *quite* aligned, yet. It still has one or maybe two days to go… which means that my theory may prove to be true after all! I’ve been following the path of the sunrise relative to the pavilion for several weeks now. You see, the entire park is symmetrical with the garden layouts and walkways. The entire symmetrical axis aligns itself relative to this pavilion… so it goes to show that if the pavilion itself is aligned to some celestial event, that makes the entire park aligned as well!

So it goes to follow that at some point in the next two days the sun will rise up squarely in the middle of the Ault Park Pavilion’s columns. What event is occuring in the next two days that would warrant such a dramatic design decision, you may ask? Well that answer appears to be the first day of spring!

It makes perfect sense… I mean just looking around the park this morning it was obvious that the gardens and the park itself is absolutely exploding in the trappings of spring. I would like to think that it is no mistake that over half of the trees in the gardens appear to be healthy mix of the blooming variety. Pears, cherries, magnolias, and I’m sure many others.

Could it be, then, that Ault Park is actually a living tribute to the miracle of spring? Suddenly the evidence is all around me. The pavilion alignment with its symmetrical park design, the several groves of weeping cherry trees along Observatory park, the myriad of blooming trees scattered throughout the garden and the handful of magnolia trees… not to mention the brand new cherry grove that was planted to mark the 100 year anniversary of the park.

It makes me happy to the core to find out that it is very likely that the pavilion, and hence the entire park, is aligned with the sunrise of the first day of spring. I believe that the ancient woodland (& others) mound building cultures (Hopewell, Ft. Ancient & Woodland) that lived in this valley for hundreds, if not thousands, of years would find comfort in knowing that we haven’t completely lost our bearings relative to our relationship with the celestial wonders.

I’ll be sure to make it of the utmost priority to get to the park for the next few sunrises to verify that my theory is correct. Stay tuned!

Just two weeks ago these cherry trees were barren. It’s amazing how quickly they bloom. Here’s a shot of the left cherry tree from a mere three weeks ago, when the chill of winter was present and snow had recently fallen:

 For the rest of the pictures, including some of the weeping cherry grove, please click to continue if you’re on the front page! Read the rest of this page »

Sunrise 154: Clifton, Mt. Adams & Newport KY (Downtown/OTR Fog Bank, St. Patrick’s Day Bagpipes)

Over-The-Rhine & Downtown Cincinnati against a massive fog bank over the Ohio River. As seen on the morning of St. Patty’s day from Bellevue Hill Park in Clifton.

We stopped by Mt. Adams for a beer & a Rugby game (oh, and another free breakfast!) at Tap & Go. Here we look out over the Ohio River from Mt. Adams.

A view from Newport, KY as a barge rolls along up the Ohio River. (The white balance may have gotten away from me on this one; original photo is down below)

(Don’t forget to check out the sister post that will show up in a few minutes from this morning. Sunrise 155)

This year the wife and I decided to celebrate St. Patrick’s day by getting up super early and heading to Clifton for a free hot breakfast @ Murphy’s Pub. I realized right away that this would put me within walking distance of Bellevue Hill Park, one of my favorites in the city for its historic location, so I made sure to grab my camera and bring it along with me for the ride. We ended up spending the early morning in Clifton, the mid morning in Mt. Adams, and the late morning in Newport, Kentucky. As we traveled around the rim of the valley (and finally down by the river), I kept track of the thick fog that sat along the Ohio River. By the end of the morning the sky had cleared up and I found myself gazing at the Cincinnati Skyline under a summer-esque blue sky with rolling clouds.

We started off our morning at Murphy’s Pub in Clifton. Murphy’s Pub is a Clifton classic and they sure know how to host a party. Their breakfast (and green eggs) were superb and the crowd was a nice mix of students and locals. This bagpiper scared the pants off of us as he started his morning serenade at 6:30am.

When I first arrived in Clifton I made the immediate realization that I was only two blocks from Bellevue Hill Park, my favorite park in the Clifton area due to it’s history and breathtaking view of Downtown Cincinnati across Over-The-Rhine. I jokingly offered the other members of our party a chance to join me in a jog to the park, but none of them cared to take me up. I ran into a friend from school, Duffee (who is actually my “little brother” from our days in the fraternity), who is always up for an adventure. He joined me as we high tailed it up to the park at day break.

We arrived in the park to a handsome view of a tall & fluffy pile of fog hanging over the Ohio River. At first I was disappointed that we weren’t going to get a colorful sunrise sky, but that disappointment was replaced with joy when we saw the wall of fog that provided a beautiful backdrop to the Cincinnati Skyline.

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