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

Sunrise 135: Ault Park (Breathtaking Twilight, Tree Silhouettes, Victorian Gas Lights)

One of my favorite shots of the morning.

Early colors of twilight. I’m really starting to love winter…

Heekin Overlook #3.

Middle twilight color shifting into an orange dominated palette.

This Murdock fountain has become a favorite of mine as the sunrise drifts into this region of the horizon during the winter months.

Weepy Maples under a ripply cloudscape.

A nicely preserved Cincinnati Gas Light. Probably at least 110 years old.

Hello party people! I’m just going to start off and say that this post is a bit of a doozy! Hang in ’til the end, it’ll be worth it. This morning was one of those times when the stars aligned and everything came together in a great way. What’s the saying – luck favors those who are prepared? I was up early, had a fresh charge in the camera, was full of creative and explorative energy, and it just so happened that the sunrise was AMAZING. One of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen. That’s saying a lot coming from me! The pictures, as beautiful as they are, do not do the true sight of the atmosphere justice. It was a true winter sunrise that was both illuminated by the clear skies, highlighted with a light cloud slurry, and from what I understand the ice crystals in the atmosphere can lead to all kinds of neat cloud formations that made an ever changing cloudscape.

As I mentioned previously, the wife has a bit of acute bronchitis. She started taking anti-bacterial medication for it and last night was the first time that the coughing had completely subsided. I fell asleep on top of the covers with my clothes on and promptly woke up in the exact same position at 6:15am, the first full night’s sleep without interruption I’ve had in weeks! As a result, when I got up to turn off the lights in our place, I felt fully rested and ready to go. I decided that rather than go back to sleep I’d go ahead and start the day. By 6:45am I was fully suited up and headed out to the park.

It was quite amazing to watch the transformation of the sky from a deep dark black into the colorful display of the twilight atmosphere. In fact, when I left the apartment it was so dark that not only could I see the stars, but I had no way of knowing that on the other side of the hill the twilight show had already started. I was planning on getting set up at the park by 7:00am (65 minutes before sunrise) and having nothing to do for about 45 minutes. I could not have arrived at the park at a better time. At 7:00am the low horizon had already taken on a deep red mohogany that was compact and restricted to the region of the sky just above the ridge line. The clouds were just beginning to take on a dark shadowy navy purple. It was still dark enough that the street lamps cast long shadows across the lawn while the sky began to change in the background. This was by far the earliest sunrise I’ve ever witnessed and really changed my perspective on “how soon” one should expect to show up for a clear sky sunrise if they wish to witness the entire ordeal.

The sunrise palette was the most rich I’ve ever seen, and again this was due to the fact that I happened to show up extra early during a morning where the sunlight just so happened to start penetrating the lower atmosphere during early twilight. The sky started off with deep purples that faded into red. The pinks, magentas, and finally fuchsias started slowly to brighten along the lower atmosphere and then moved upward across the sky as the thin layers of ice crystal clouds provided a canvas backdrop. After the fuchsias subdued, the dark oranges and finally bright yellows scattered throughout the atmosphere until the sun finally made an appearance at 8:05am.

I was as giddy as a school girl, running to and from taking pictures now to sort out at home later. In the process I explored some ideas for a project that I plan on pursuing throughout the winter. Namely, finding tree “candidates” for a Winter Tree Silhouette project. I’ve long been fascinated by the underlying fractal and organic form that the naked tree branches form against the winter sky. There are some beautiful old trees around the local forests, many of then “Century” trees. There are not, however, very many trees that are isolated enough to provide a decent silhouette and also on the top of a hill, positioned in such a way that they can be captured against the open sky. There’s one specific tree (Oak I think) in the yard of St. Ursula Villa that fits this perfectly. There’s also one down by Lunken Airfield although there is a chain linked fence and lamp pole in the view. Today I was able to try and find some new candidates around the Ault Park area as well. Some are good and one may make for a great choice, although none of them are completely isolated. I’m hoping to have some good luck down at Reeve’s golf course by Lunken Airfield where most of the century oaks have been well taken care of and sit by themselves along the fairways of the course.

To top it all off, at the end of my ride I discovered that one of the local roads in the neighborhood that Ault Park sits next to still has some authentic gas lanterns. I was unaware that there were any gas lanterns in this area as the only ones I’ve heard of are the iconic street lamps in old Clifton’s “Gas Light District” off of Ludlow Ave. I found ten of these lanterns along a side street that runs right by the Cincinnati Observatory. The homes that were built in the blocks surrounding the observatory have so many architectural features and it is excellent to see the gas lanterns still alive and kicking. They’re at the end of this post if you are particularly interested in them.

Without further ado, here’s the set from this morning. Some of them are a bit blurry from the low light and for that I apologize. There is one picture in particular that I really loved but for some reason it’s completely out of focus. Low lighting can be a pain!

On the way to the park, this home with its Christmas lights still out caught my eye because of the various accent lighting. Nothing too crazy here but I was hoping the picture turned out better. It’s difficult getting the settings on the camera right while wondering if anyone thinks I’m a weirdo for standing on the sidewalk taking pictures of the neighborhood.

Arriving in the park, I am surprised to find that the sky is not dark at all. Early twilight colors abound. On the left side of the frame we can see the light from a lit street lamp illuminating the lawn.

For all 70+ pictures, please click to continue if you’re on the front page.

Heekin Overlook #1. Quite dark indeed.

The early twilight sky with a nice healthy vapor trail streak.

While I think the buildings on the horizon are out of focus, they’re not motion blurred. I’m confused because they all seem to be identical in structure, a block of lights with a small light on the left side. As if someone copy and pasted them. What are they? Apartment buildings?

Showing off the sky above the overlook.

Heekin Overlook #2 at early twilight.

The 1983 Peugeot Mixte P-18. My bike is actually at work because I couldn’t ride it home the other day. This is the wife’s bike. I really got to know it this morning and I have to say it’s a really great ride. It is more for leisurely riding – and geared appropriately. The gearing is much lower on my bike so I feel like I can sprint up hills. The hybrid tires let me go through a grass lawn on the back side of the park easily. It’s a bit short, though, so that’s why the seat is cranked so high up.

Remember, this is about 40 minutes before sunrise by this point. There is so much color.

A gradient of the twilight sky before Sunrise 135.

I realized that the camera was having some problems focusing on the distant horizon. I decided to use this little tree/bush as a prop to give the camera something to focus on. It worked and I really liked the way that it turned out.

One of my favorite shots of the morning.

Zoomin’ up on the horizon to get some of that dark purple action.

I really love these colors. Not very often do I get to see a full pink phase of the sunrise.

Ahhh here she is. One of my favorite pictures of this set… but for some reason completely out of focus. Why?! That’s OK though, I have a lot of great shots from this set. I’ll pour some beer out for this fallen soldier later tonight. Once again, it isn’t motion blur. It’s like the camera didn’t know where to focus (and I couldn’t tell from the preview screen) so it just gave up. hah.

A bit of a lighter shot showing the misty ridge line under the sky that is slowly growing brighter. We can start to see traces of magenta highlights creeping up from the horizon.

So it begins. I’m going to call this “Magenta Creep”. The magenta/fuchsia starts by the horizon where the curvature of the atmosphere and the earth allow the first traces of incoming sunlight to reflect off of the cloud layer. There’s something here about energy states of light why red shows up first, but its lost on me.

Early twilight before Sunrise 135. You pretty, pretty thang.

Stepping back from the overlook, we can see a familiar scene. Heekin Overlook is to the right.

I realized that I wanted to repeat the shot from yesterday at the pavilion.

The sun wasn’t quite as aligned as I had hoped, so the colors weren’t nearly as dramatic. I quickly scurried back to the overlook.

Heekin Overlook #3.

The magentas, having swept through the upper atmosphere, were blending with the late oranges to create a nice slurry of color.

What a pretty sight over the Little Miami River Valley.

Lots of blurry birds in the sky. It was quite a sight; the quiet forest was beginning to wake up and swarms of birds were flying out over the valley to start their day, fading into the oranges and purples. I love that streak of teal in the middle sky.

We begin to see some cirrus cloud formations in the upper atmosphere.

To the west, the colors quickly fade into dark.

I move over to the Murdock water fountain and the streaks of sun rays begin to scatter across the upper atmosphere.

I featured this Murdock fountain a couple of weeks ago as well:

I experimented a bit with exposure … these are actually taken at -2, the darkest the camera can go. Without this setting, the sky is completely bleached out. Not sure which of the set I like or dislike since it’s kind of a strange premise. Either way, they’re all included here.

Steel, Chrome, Sunrise

This is the lip of the Murdock fountain, by the way.

Chrome Sunrise

This is probably my favorite. Non-macro mode so the background isn’t quite as fuzzy and the dramatic sky comes through nicely.

Back at the sunrise, there’s a nice yellow aurora starting to develop above where the sun is rising.

By now the upper atmosphere has lost most of its color and the sun is just about to poke out.

First Light @ Sunrise 135!

Sunrise 135 with the Little Miami River Valley in the foreground and Mt. Washington’s water tower to the right.

Misty excrement from a factory down in the valley puffs up into the air. It provides some nice white noise but I definitely categorize it as “noise pollution”. Pure silence would be fantastic, but you can’t have it all right?

Looking out over Armleder Park, the sun is now quite bright leaving me to believe it’s not as humid as I originally thought.

So here I am thinking about my tree silhouette project and I look over and see that beautiful tall tree that has been in every western-facing picture of Lunken Airport that I’ve taken. I have this idea that maybe if I can position myself in the forest, I could get a decent shot of the tree. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t even have to leave the trail. The branches rise up into the sky and I now know that I have no excuse! This new vantage point will be featured throughout the winter sunrises.

So here we are, ladies and gentleman, the first “tree candidate” for upcoming twilight silhouettes. A very good candidate indeed!

Looking back up the trail towards the overlook, for perspective.

The black and white shots are neat because they really highlight the subtle properties of the cloud systems behind the tree.

Still in B&W mode, back at the overlook.

Looking west across Lunken Airfield. Our new tree silhouette companion is in the right foreground.

I pack it up and ride out from the overlook. There is almost no wind today, giving the air a warmer feel to it.

I continued my search for “tree silhouette candidates”. This lone pine and its symmetrical cousin on the other side of the lawn could make for a decent picture. Candidate #2. Not perfect, but not bad.

My favorite thing about winter is that with the foliage gone there all sorts of neat little things that a watchful eye picks up. Here we have some stepping stones hidden along one paths in the back of the rose garden. Several pieces have fallen off but it still is in decent shape. Is it a face? A vase? A place?

A second stone hidden in the garden. A football!

Behind the rose garden shelter there is a magnificent century tree. It is huge, symmetrical, and well taken care of. The problem is, however, that it’s just too damn big. I can’t get a vantage point without crawling under the low fruit trees and japanese maples. Candidate #3 for the tree silhouettes, but I’m left with only being able to get a clean shot of the canopy.

Branches against a textured blue sky.

I found this hilarious little frog in the garden as well. This is in the adopt-a-plot section so this is a custom piece for one of the gardens that are no doubt taken care of by a local community member. Also this song was stuck in my head for the remainder of the morning.

On the way out of the garden I stopped by the pavement and found this suspicious froggy chalk creation. Another frog? Is it a conspiracy? He even has four fingers like my dead one-eyed frog partner pictured previously.

Continuing my search for tree candidates I snake along the back side of the park, down Observatory road towards the Cincinnati Observatory. There is a nice hill with a lawn over here and I realize that there should be some great opportunities to find a tree that I would have an uphill viewpoint of, a perfect angle for a twilight tree silhouette. Ideally it should be by itself so I can capture the entire thing. I look up and see that there is a flock of Canadian Geese. gliding gracefully through the sky. I took the picture a bit too soon, but no matter. It’s at this point that I start to notice that the cloud patterns are taking on interesting form in the sunlight, an almost shadowy effect.

Candidate #4 at the edge of the back side hill.

I bike up the grass hill (did I mention I did some “off roading”?) and find a small grove of pines. The sky was doing that strange thing and I documented this location of Candidate #5.

There’s a whole grove of these small weeping trees as well. I think these will make for excellent twilight silhouettes. Candidate #6

Behind me there is a second hill with another grove of weepy trees. Perhaps there are some candidates over there, too, but I didn’t take the time to check them out.

Candidate #7.

Candidates #8,9 with a rippling cloud layer as the backdrop. The direct sunlight is messing with the camera sensor and making it gray out the tree on the right.

Candidate #10…

A decent candidate but I’m not sure it’s my favorite.

On the way home I stopped to look at this beautiful old Victorian home. I hadn’t really noticed it before. Now that the leaves are gone it’s much easier to see. This home is so beautiful, these pictures do it no justice. I’m sure there is some amazing history here. There is another home across the street on the corner to Observatory Ct. on the way to the Cincinnati Observatory that fits this style. You can always tell a century old Cincinnati home by the large number of high stacked brick chimneys. There is this neat little sun room on the top of the home that was lit up in sunlight. (Here’s the previously mentioned home):

Heading down the avenue towards the sun-lit side of the home, I took another picture of the home. That’s when I noticed … the lantern.

“Interesting lantern”, I thought to myself. “Haven’t seen one like that around here. That’s a neat thing about these historic homes, I bet they maintain all kinds of neat little historic pieces.” As I continued down the road, however, I realized that the entire street was lined with these lanterns.

I also realized that they are not electric (from what I can tell). That looks like a gas lantern to me.

Yep. Almost positive that’s a gas lantern. Wikipedia confirms. Apparently there are still 1100+ in Cincinnati. And they’re all functioning too! But how old are they?

Another gas lamp.

Not too bright, but over 100 years old and still working.

What’s this? Letters stamped in the steel column. Does that say… 1884?? Holy cow I think it does. Let me get my calculator out… this is 128 years old!

AP & S Co. Cin 1884

A close up of the “A & S Co” label.

“A P & S”

I believe that the top piece of the lantern is a separate part with a different model number. There were some lamps with different tops but this was the only one with legible stampings. 1899, it appears, is the date of manufacture.

I found this “double” gas light on the edge of the Cincinnati Observatory campus. Now that I think about it I bet that the lantern at the Observatory is a gas light, but it was not turned on when I inspected it so I wouldn’t have known the difference. That lantern had a nice ivory pattern going up it, likely an “upgrade” from the standard gas light model:

6 responses

  1. I’ve seen a variety of old gas lamps on some of the quieter streets of Hyde Park and Oakley. Victoria and Drakewood for sure. I wish they were still on my own street. Great set of photos, by the way.

    January 9, 2012 at 9:39 am

    • Thanks so much edpaffjr. I really have to start paying more attention. I knew there were gas lights around, but I never connected the dots. I find it kind of funny that I knew about the street lamp at the Observatory but never figured out it was actually a “gas lamp”. I’m going to poke around through Oakley (thanks for the heads up with Victoria and Drakewood), something I’ve been meaning to do for awhile. There are lots of little pockets of history around these parts, one of the best reasons to explore by bike.

      January 9, 2012 at 10:20 am

      • Blaine,
        In the winter I can see the sunrise from our house. There are some mornings when the light is so great that I hope you are up at the park capturing the surise! Sunday morning was one of them! I’m glad it was as spectacular as it looked from my window!

        Thanks for the postcard!! Polly Hart

        January 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm

  2. Polly,
    It’s amazing how far the sun moves throughout the year, isn’t it? You’re welcome for the postcard! I still have like 70 left so if you know anyone who wants one, let me know! Also postcard stamps go up in a month so I have to use all these $.29 ones I have. -Blaine

    January 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm

  3. Pingback: Sunrise 139: Ault Park (Ice Storm, Deer Skull, Frozen Cherries) « Ault Park Sunrise

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

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