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gradient atmospheres in the backdrop, but once again I found myself being caught up in a mindset that is months out of date!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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I checked the forecast last night and was surprised to see that the entire week is expected to be overcast and gloomy. It appears our streak of beautiful clear autumn skies is officially over as we break into the winter season. With last week being mostly filled with cloudy and wet mornings, it appears that this week will be no exception. This isn’t to say that there may not be a surprise or two hidden in the weather pattern, however. The forecast has been particularly shaky over the course of this season transition so I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there may be some gems hidden in the upcoming week. Even a slight break in a cloudy pattern can make for a spectacular sunrise because of the unpredictable dynamics that a cloudy sky provides.
This morning, however, was the only day for the entire week that there was an expectation of relatively clear skies. The forecast said 19% cloud cover which is a great bet considering that I can get lucky with up to 60% cloud cover. I went to bed looking up at a clear sky and woke up to a dark gray atmosphere of the kind you’d expect to be brooding a winter storm. I was a bit disappointed, but seeing as how today is Free Coffee Refill Day @ UDF (every Monday!) I decided to check it out anyway in the hopes that something may change. Interestingly enough, Mt. Lookout Square is kind of in a valley so it can be hard to judge what the distant horizon is up to without actually getting up to Ault or Alms Park.
By the time I was leaving Mt. Lookout Square, the sky had shown no signs of light and the sunrise time was just around the corner. I took the “long way” to Ault Park, up through some extra neighborhood hills just to keep my cardiovascular system in check as we head into winter hibernation. Once I passed the Cincinnati Observatory, however, I could see that the eastern sky was up to something. The bare trees provided a view that suggested that it was time to high tail it up to the overlook. I dropped the trusty old Fuji into high gear (OK second gear, who am I kidding with these hills) and pressed onward to the overlook hoping that I wouldn’t miss the show.
As it turned out, the eastern horizon was beginning to light up in a magnificent shade of fuchsia unlike one that I’ve seen so far in this project. A rare sight, indeed. The pictures unfortunately do not do it justice because it was as if the entire lower atmosphere was ablaze with a hot pink fire. The color did not spread into the upper atmosphere and was contained by the breaking cloud front that only temporarily was giving up control of the eastern sky. There was a faint mist across the Valley that served to accentuate the bright light. I arrived at the overlook in time, and just as quickly as the fuchsia show arrived, it dwindled into a muted gray/orange sunrise.
As a completely unrelated note, while I was going through the pictures on the camera I realized that I had forgotten to include some documentation from a recent Hot Air Balloon Festival (Balluminaria) at Eden Park. I was hoping to get back up to Eden Park to continue the exploration of the reservoir ruins, but it hasn’t happened yet. Rather than wait for that to happen and include the pictures there, I’m posting the pictures along with Sunrise 130.
This was our first time attending the Balluminaria and it was a neat thing to partake in. The balloons lit up as dusk settled in. It was pretty crazy to see the thousands of people descent on Eden Park for the event that took place November 17 2011. I’m not sure if they have two separate fuels, one for hot air and one for light, but there was a distinct difference between the flames that kept the balloons inflated and the flames that lit up the canopy.
The entrance to the Art Deco Krohn Conservatory at the end of the Holiday Tree Lighting party. Check out the parallel lines, a signature of the style. Also note the humidity dripping from the glass panels.
The atmosphere this morning was foggy for the second day in a row. I’m beginning to wonder if we’re close to setting the record if such a thing ever existed. I could see the sunrise’s deep red glow from Mt. Lookout Square, where I stopped by UDF to get a coffee refill, but by the time I climbed up to the park the fog had blown in from from the valley. The fog started to get thick as soon as I entered the park.
The strange thing that really stuck out to me this morning was the bird activity in the park. It was almost as if today was the day that the swarms of birds chose to gather in Ault Park before heading south for the winter. I have no idea of sparrows or crows migrate, but both birds were present in outstanding numbers this morning, filling up the sky and making a whole ruckus of noise! I even have a video of the “Murder of Crows”. There were at least 100 (I took a video) crows high in the trees this morning and their silhouettes were easy to find against the bright white background and naked branches. I’ve seen a handful at a time of these giant birds at the forest’s edge looking out over the valley, but this morning the murder moved together in a loud, squaking, organized group. I could hear them even as they moved deep into the forest even though they were hidden by the fog.
Last night the wife and I visited Krohn Conservatory in Mt. Adam’s Eden Park for their annual tree lighting ceremony. It was a really great time and there was excellent food and drinks. If you’re local to Cincinnati I highly recommend joining the Cincinnati Parks volunteer program because you get to hang out with some neat people and get invited to events like this at the Krohn :). The Krohn has a neat holiday display this year. A group came in and created a miniature train display that highlights several local Cincinnati landmarks as well as a few international ones. The trains glide around the fantasy landscape that is filled with the temporary holiday flowers and plants as well as the permanent citrus trees. The Krohn Conservatory is such a great building and we’re lucky to have it!
The giant pine lit @ Krohn. If you love plants like I do, be sure to pay the Krohn as many visits as you can! Especially at NIGHT during the winter. When you walk into the dark humid tropic room as ice crystals form on the green house panels, you feel like you’ve entered another world.
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I took advantage of the latest sunrise of the entire year, that also happened to be on a beautifully clear morning, and got up extra early on Saturday morning. I left my place at 7:10am and rode, for the first time during this project, to Eden Park in Mt. Adams. Eden Park is known to be one of the most scenic and historic parks in the city. It sits next to the Art Museum, Krohn Conservatory, on top of ruins from the old Cincinnati Water Works Reservoir, and has many memorials and two overlooks. I’ve never visited the park for sunrise and I have to say it was an impressive location. The lower two overlooks (there is a “main” overlook next to the Twin Lakes and a lesser known upper overlook by a turn of the century brick water tower) look directly East over the bend in the Ohio River. The benches on the overlook (and their cherry tree companions) appear to be deliberately aligned with the sunrise. I have wanted to get up to Eden Park for sunrise for the entirety of this project, but I was inspired by the recent 105 year old postcards that I recently found at an Antique Mall featuring Eden Park at the turn of the last century. One of the postcards depicts a peaceful scene at Mirror Lake in 1906, the other depicts the entrance to alms park with the infamous Elsinore Arch (not featured in today’s post) which was constructed as a piece of the Cincinnati water system.
I hopped around through the park and checked out only some of the major attractions. I’d like to spend a few more sunrises at Eden Park to get to know more of the memorials and historic buildings. It’s one of the oldest parks in the city and used to be one of the main vineyards during the mid 1800s that supported the German catholic wine scene. There is enough history surrounding the park to fill several posts so I’m going to keep it mostly brief. Check out this document from Cincinnati Parks that gives some insight into the “Master Plan”.
It’s still dark when I pulled up to Eden Park. This picture looks East and if you follow the river back around to the right, you’ll find the tip of the ridge that Alms Park lives on.