Will Halloween 2015, Truly Be The Scariest Until 2027?

A photo illustration featuring an arc of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) entering the Earth's orbital path. — Photo illustration: D a v i d J o h a n s on

A photo illustration featuring an arc of potentially hazardous asteroids (PHAs) entering the Earth’s orbital path. Note the dominant 108 million year old crater on the Moon’s southern hemisphere, believed caused by an asteroid fragment from 298 Baptistina. The TychoCrater is named after the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546 —1601) – Photo illustration: D a v i d  A   J o h a n s o n

Multimedia eLearning program produced by:  D a v i d  A  J o h a n s o n  © 

The author is a multimedia photographer, CTE instructor and a former Boeing scientific photographer. For an alternative graphic presentation of this program, please visit: http://sciencetechtablet.wordpress.com

Last night I was inspired to take photos of a dramatic moonrise appearing above the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest. It was an exceptionally clear evening, which enabled the luminous clarity of the moon to reveal its turbulent history recorded in a textured topography of asteroid craters.

In fact, the Earth shares some frightening historic parallels with all of its neighboring planets within our solar system. Indeed, of all the world’s collateral past and future events, it is the asteroid or comet nemeses which present a potential close encounter of the worst kind!

Ignorance Is Bliss

Since the beginning of time, on a nearly daily basis, these threatening extraterrestrial objects known as asteroids have come perilously close (relative in celestial distance) to our planet Earth. NASA scientists developed a method of categorizing Near Earth Objects (NEO) for tracking the orbital path of asteroids and comets. The space agency’s Near-Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program, often referred to as “Spaceguard” tracks and catalogs celestial objects coming to within 30 million miles (96,560,400 kilometers) of Earth. Ground and space-based telescope resources are used for increased surveillance and tracking of these unwelcome space nomads.

Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) is what NASA currently uses for its parameters to gauge an asteroid’s potential impact threat to the Earth. If an asteroid is projected to travel within the moon and Earth’s orbit, it’s considered a potentially Earth-impact threat and depending on its specific trajectory, it is then placed into groups (Athen, Apollo Amor) for enhanced analysis. If a PHA were detected, it should not be assumed that an eminent Earth-collision is about to happen, however, underestimating or ignoring this catastrophic potential could lead to an early and permanent retirement of most life on Earth.

NASA illustraion

NASA illustration

Blinded By The Light of Day

On February 15, 2013 the asteroid 367943 Duende was long-predicted to approach and pass dangerously close to Earth. On that morning, just after sunrise near Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia a 20 meter sized meteor exploded as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere from a shallow angle. A radiant superbolide meteor blast occurred at an elevation of just under 30 km (18 miles) creating an intense light brighter than the Sun.

The estimated energy released was equivalent to approximately 500 kilotons of TNT, upwards of 30 times the explosive energy of the atomic bomb detonated above Hiroshima. Regional hospitals treated approximately 1,500 people for injuries and at least 7,000 buildings were damaged in half a dozen cities as an indirect result of the meteor’s shock wave.

A valuable lesson learned from the Chelyabinsk event was exemplified in the heroic actions of a grade school teacher who instinctively had her students duck and cover as the flash of piercing light first appeared. The children were unharmed, however the instructor was severely injured by flying glass caused by the meteors powerful shock wave. Accordingly, most of the fifteen individuals injured in the event were cut by flying glass from blown out windows.

The Chelyabinsk asteroid literally snuck under the radar as not all 15 meters wide, near-Earth objects are tracked and catalog. The trajectory of the asteroid aligned so close to the Sun that it was not visible to the instruments responsible for locating such objects.

Within 16 hours after this unexpected event, the forecasted asteroid 367943 Duende perilously flew past Earth by 27,700 km without incident. In the days that followed, there were increased sightings of bright meteors streaking through the night sky. International space agencies and sources concluded that due to the two celestial objects divergent trajectories, they could not possibly be related. Consequently, this event illustrates how unprepared the World community currently is for developing essential contingencies to mitigate the range of potential dangers that asteroids present.

NASA Illustration

NASA Illustration

A Sobering Series Of Events

By coincidence, the Chelyabinsk event is cited as the second largest asteroid to impact the Earth’s atmosphere in recorded history. The larger, 1908 Tunguska event was caused from a 50 meter wide asteroid strike, which detonated at a 28,000 foot elevation. In an instant this event leveled approximately 800 square miles of Siberian forest that contained 80 million trees. The subsequent fireball is estimated to have released the energy equivalent of 185 Hiroshima atomic bombs.

The mother of all meteors to have collided with the Earth is the infamous Chicxulub asteroid, which impacted Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula 65 − 66 million years ago. This mammoth asteroid caused a 10 mile wide crater and was from a 60 km (37.28 mile) fragment associated with the larger 170 km wide parent bodyIt is estimated the Chicxulub impactor released the equivalent 100 teratons of TNT, which also qualifies as the largest explosion to happen on the planet. This asteroid’s impact is credited with the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, causing the worldwide extinction of most dinosaurs.

Size Does Matter

To put the potential horrific effects of asteroids into perspective, we can use past asteroid encounters to determine the likely scale of catastrophic damage that would likely occur.

Image result for symbol for an asteroid  An asteroid about 40 meters in width could level the largest cities on the  globe.      

  Image result for symbol for an asteroid   An asteroid or comet of 400 meters, similar in size to the asteroid which NASA                   has forecasted to come near the Earth on Halloween, would cause serious                          geological damage to an entire continent.     

Image result for symbol for an asteroid    An asteroid about 1000 meters or larger, would likely end most life on Earth.

Trick Or Treat

Doomsday preppers are exceptionally excited regarding what NASA scientists are tracking and forecasting for asteroid 2015 TB 145. This 400 meter-wide (1,300 feet) is tracked using optical observatories and the radar technology of NASA’s Deep Network at Goldstone, California. Known as the ‘Great Pumpkin’ Halloween Asteroid, it is predicted to safely travel slightly beyond the moon’s orbit on October 31 at 10:05 a.m. PDT., before returning back on its circular journey into the vast realm of our solar system.

According to the Minor Planet Center, which catalogs near-Earth objects (NEOs) this Halloween’s asteroid visitor is the closest known approach by any substantial celestial object until asteroid 1999 AN10 – which is a massive 800 meter sized object, whose orbit will return it near our moon in August 2027. ~

Resources And References Relating To This Subject Matter.

Halloween Asteroid a Treat for Radar Astronomy  http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news190.html

The Tunguska Impact — 100 Years Latter                                http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2008/30jun_tunguska/                                              

Near-Earth Object Programhttp://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/

Near Earth Object Groupshttp://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/neo/groups.html

NEO Earth Close Approacheshttp://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/

Chicxulub Crater 

Asteroid to narrowly miss Earth on Halloween — http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/21/us/asteroid-earth-nasa-halloween-feat/

Asteroid that could wipe out London — http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/592987/End-of-the-world-asteroid-Blood-Moon-September-apocalypse-armageddon-comet-meteor

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Reflecting on the 36th Anniversary of Mount Saint Helens Eruption

Observing the 33rd anniversary of Mount Saint Helens

Observing the 33rd anniversary of the Mount Saint Helens eruption, which had occurred on Sunday 18th of May 1980 at 8:32 a.m. on a clear sunny morning.

 

Photo essay by: David A Johanson © All Rights

Flying off from Seattle to see family in San Francisco, I peered out my window to catch a sunrise falling on the north face of Mt. Saint Helens. In the photograph, a fresh plume of ash is seen spewing near the center of the crater after some renewed volcanic activity. Spirit Lake, partially frozen in the foreground sits at the base of an active volcano. I’m humbled every time I see this famous stratovolcano, because of a close encounter I nearly had with it on the weekend it violently erupted.

After graduating from college, I received a job offer from KING Broadcasting’s KREM TV, in Spokane. While working at the station, Mount Saint Helens dramatically awoke, focusing the world’s media attention on her mysterious activity. The volcano’s rumblings increased sharply over a few weeks and was building momentum, just before I was planning a weekend visit to Seattle to stay with friends. Having access to the station’s motion picture cameras, I made preparations to use part of the weekend for filming Spirit Lake, which sat under the shadow of the volcano. A feisty character, named Harry R. Truman, operated a lodge on the lake and I imagined it would be a great human-interest story to interview him in regards to all the Mountain’s activity.

The art director at the TV station, Bob Takeshita, was a good friend, so we made plans to work on the project together. The weekend arrived for going to Seattle, and the weather had cleared, making it ideal for filming at Spirit Lake. To my disappointment, the art director informed me his wife didn’t want him to go that weekend. Since the plan was for us to work as a team, I let him know, I wasn’t going to hall all the camera gear up the mountain by myself—so we would have to postpone the shoot for another time.

Arriving back in Seattle, I was still disheartened by not going to film at Spirit Lake with such ideal weather. That night, I had this strange dream of being back in Spokane, where I was at my favorite lookout point, getting ready to take some photographic panoramas of the skyline. As I put the camera on the tripod, a clear spring sky turned suddenly dark. It was all vivid and so strange, but what made it even more surreal is… it began snowing gray powder flakes in the warm air as the ground disappeared underneath deposits of gray powder dust. Waking up in the morning I though how odd that dream was from the night before, but soon forgot about it as I had a busy day ahead of me.

As fate would have it, the following morning on May 18, 1980, Mt. Saint Helen’s, erupted with the force of several atomic bombs… burying my intended interviewee, Harry Truman and his lodge under hundreds of feet of volcanic debris. And the dream I had, was a premonition of ash from the eruption, which did make it to Spokane and deposited a blanket of ash, just as I had seen. Interestingly, no geologist or scientist had predicted if an eruption did occur, the result would be…a massive cloud of ash, blanketing hundreds of square miles in gray ash.  It was several days before I could get back to KREM TV, because the mountain passes were closed due to hazardous driving conditions caused from falling ash, which deposited ash on 11 states and parts of western Canada.

I never got a chance to thank my friend’s wife for not allowing him to go with me on that fateful weekend. If I get over to the Spokane area again, I’m going to look my friend up and bring his wife a belated bouquet of flowers for inadvertently saving our lives. ~

Video of Mount St. Helens Eruption

usda Forest Services Video

Interviews with Harry Truman at Spirit Lake

Computer animated video of Mount St. Helens Eruption

Click on the link bellow to view the largest volcanic eruption recorded in history

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ARBjmoHAII

Kradatoa – the largest volcanic eruption recorded in history,

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Reflections From A Future Hawaii. Can A Tropical Paradise Become A Portal To Deep Space?

Photo-illustration: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

Honolulu, Hawaii 2054: Launch gateway to L4 & L5 space stations, L2 Lunar Hub and the Mars Frontier. Illuminated aircraft and monorail tubes bring early commuters into the City as twilight transitions to dawn.

Multimedia essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

Waikiki, on Hawaii’s Island of Oahu is a Cross Roads of the World. The allure of this tropical city attracts millions of vacationing pilgrims from across the globe. Steady infusion of foreign and domestic investment creates a dynamic and often futuristic looking metropolis.

Digital display featured at the Galleria.

Digital display featured at the Galleria.

On my last visit to Waikiki in November, I came across an ultramodern, duty-free, fashion and clothing store located on the main boulevard. Entering this multiplex shopping site felt like being on the sci-fi movie sets for Minority Report or Blade Runner. My son-in-law commented as he left the “Galleria” — “it was a sensory overload experience,” so he was headed back to the hotel to sleep it off. Hawa_Futr_BPP_121116_a38

A hall portal view to Waikiki's Galleria.

A hall portal view to Waikiki’s Galleria.

The experience of entering the Galleria is exciting and dynamic for those who are ready for such an encounter.

Honolulu’s Dynamic Style of Architecture

The surrounding city of Honolulu has a vibrant range of architectural styles and its own unique Hawaiian form. Within Waikiki, new architecture blends a modern and Japanese style.

An example of modern  Hawaiian Style Architecture.

An example of modern Hawaiian Style Architecture.

From our hotel room we could see a dynamic Honolulu panorama of the city, which suggested the idea of a — reflection of the future. Waikiki_Pano_BPP_ewp222 Massive walls of electronic  projection frame the entry environment in Waikiki's Galleria.

The Sky Is No Longer The Limit For Digital Displays

Massive walls of electronic projection frame the entry environment in Waikiki’s Galleria.  Marketing and advertising have embraced electronics LED’s to capture our attention and stimulate the senses. We can expect the future will sustain sensory overload for marketing of products, services and ideas on a global scale. Hawa11_121118_BPP_e224

The experience of entering the Galleria is exciting and dynamic for those who are ready for such an encounter. Multimedia environments are becoming more common in the 21st Century. As natural environments are increasingly altered or replaced by new ones, projections of “paradise lost” will attempt to fill the expanding void. Pearl_Harb_VC_BPP__2a1426

A Scenario For Things To Come

With automation and remote-control technology accelerating into all professions and industry,  getting safely from point-A-to-point-B becomes seamless with advanced autopilot avionics used in transportation operations — World travel now becomes even more assessable and affordable. A futuristic Boeing pilotless passenger jet with personal projection systems ( PPS). A futuristic Boeing pilotless passenger jet with personal projection systems ( PPS) as it nears the Island of Oahu.

South Point (Ka Lae) – Naalehu, Big Island, Hawaii +18° 54′ 39.96″, -155° 40′ 52.00″ “The Pan Pacific Launch Site” Gateway To Lunar And Deep Space Exploration

As international space exploration matures, greater consortiums and partnerships develop between countries and corporations for creating space operations staging points near Earth’s orbit. The Lagrangian Points: of L2, L4 and L5 are  locations relatively close to Earth, which provide stable orbits for building hubs to assist in lunar, deep-space and asteroid exploratory missions.

The Big Island of Hawaii's South Point ( Ka Lae) is in the neighborhood of 1,400 miles from the Equator, which requires less fuel for launching rockets into orbit. On the right, a rocket has lifted off from the Pan Pacific Launch Site, on its journey to an international L2 Lunar Hub.

The Big Island of Hawaii’s South Point ( Ka Lae) is in the neighborhood of 1,400 miles from the Equator, which requires less fuel for launching rockets into orbit. On the right, SpaceX rocket has lifted off from the Pan Pacific Launch Site, on its journey to an international L2 Lunar Hub. – Photo illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

Space view looking back towards Hawaii's "Pan Pacific Launch Site." - Photo David Johanson Vasquez ©

Space view looking back towards Hawaii’s “Pan Pacific Launch Site.” – Photo David Johanson Vasquez ©

Photo courtesy of NASA

Photo courtesy of NASA

Locations of previous NASA Apollo Manned landing sites. Photo illustration courtesy of NASA.

Locations of previous NASA Apollo Manned landing sites. Photo illustration courtesy of NASA. Some in Congress are considering declaring these sites as “National Parks,” to protect them from future treasure hunters.

Section view of International L2 Lunar Hub in stable orbit .

Section view of International L2 Lunar Hub in stable platform orbit. Prime contracting consortium: Boeing, Mitsubishi HI, AviChina, Hindustan Aeronautics and ST Engineering.

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"Asteroid 1" - artist concept of asteroid mining mission to an Earth approaching asteroid.NASA sponsored a study on space manufacturing held at Ames Research Center (ARC) June1977, commissioned this painting by - Denise Watt.

“Asteroid 1” – artist concept of asteroid mining mission to an Earth approaching asteroid.
NASA sponsored a study on space manufacturing held at Ames Research Center (ARC) June 1977, commissioned painting by – Denise Watt.

Post cards from the Martian Frontier,— Photo illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

Digital post cards from the Martian Frontier.
— Photo illustration: David Johanson Vasquez ©

Digital post cards from Mars - mining operations on the "Red Planet."  — Photo illustration: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights.

Digital post cards from the Martian Frontier — mining operations during sunset on the”Red Planet.” — Photo illustration: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights. 

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Links to the University of Hawaii Manoa Engineering Program’s Satellite Project. UH is the only university to have built its own satellite, which will soon be launched. Click on the link below. ↓

University of Hawaii aims to become the first university with satellite launch capability | Malamalama, The Magazine of the University of Hawai’i System

http://www.space.com/20849-hawaii-small-satellite-launch.html

University of Hawaii innovation article about UH College of Engineering Satellite Program –  by: Jolyn Okimoto Rosa. Click on the link below. ↓

http://www.universityofhawaiiinnovation.com/features/readying-for-liftoff/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHdNSS85c5M    

Click on the above link to see a glimpse of the future. Make sure to fill your entire screen with the video.

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Who Were the Titans of Telecommunication and Information Technology?

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Multimedia Essay By: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights – Second Addition – Series: 1 & 2 

. — Inventions are rarely the result of one individual’s work, but are created from collective efforts over time, from several individual’s observations, theories and experiments. Benjamin Franklin’s role in demystifying electricity, Michael Faraday’s discovery of “induced” current, Nikola Tesla and Guglielmo Marconi’s wireless radio communication… are just a few of the technology pioneers responsible for developing modern telecommunications. I regret not having the resources  for this program’s inclusion of all men and women, whose discoveries made telecommunication  and information technology possible.

Definition of technology — “the systematic application of scientific or other organized knowledge to practical tasks.”  (J.K Galbraith)  “the application of scientific and other organized knowledge to practical tasks by… ordered systems that involve people and machines.” (John Naughton) For an alternative graphic format on this essay:  www.ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Telecommunications took its first infant steps as the industrial revolution was rapidly compressing concepts of time and space. The first half of the 19THThe century witnessed modern society’s reliance on new innovations — steam locomotive trains for mass transit and electronic communication through telegraph technology. Steamships shrunk the world by delivering capital goods, raw resources and people to remote locations within fractions of the time it took before. With the industrial revolution nearing its peak at the close of the century, a new communication, innovation was developed, which helped transform the modern age into a postmodern era.

Inventor, Alexander Graham Bell’s Washington D.C. company, which developed the telephone, eventually evolved into a prime research laboratory. Bell’s vision for a R & D lab, created a foundation for the digital technologies of today. In the following century, another key, R & D technology titan— Xerox PARC enters the stage, which helps to set in motion personal computing and expands the information technology revolution.

The steamship S.S. Empress of India near Vancouver B.C.
From the private collection of: David A. Johanson ©

.  Scottish born Alexander Graham Bell From the collection of: Library of Congress

The French Technology Connection

A French, visionary government in 1880, recognized the importance of  Alexander Bell’s invention, and awarded him the Volta Prize. A sum of 50,000 francs or roughly, $ 250,000 in today’s currency came with the honor. The funds were reinvested into Bell’s laboratory for use in analysis, recording and transmission of sound. Growing proceeds from the lab were used for additional research and in education to enable knowledge on deafness.  

Can You Hear Me Now                                         

 The telegraph and telephone were the first forms of electrical, point-to-point telecommunications and qualify as early versions of social-media platforms. Over time, phone service, convenience and quality have steadily improved. In my youth during the early 1960s, I spent summers visiting relatives with farms in Wisconsin who had phones connected on “party lines” (several phone subscribers on one circuit).  When picking up a phone connected with a party line, your neighbor might be having a conversation in progress. If  a conversation was taking place you could politely interrupt and request to use the phone for urgent business. Today,  phone service has become so advanced that it is taken for granted as a form of personal utility.   In 1925, Bell Telephone Laboratories were created from a merger with the engineering department of American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) and Western Electric Research Laboratories.  Ownership of the lab was shared evenly between the two companies; in return, Bell Laboratories provided design and technical support for Western Electric’s telephone infrastructure used by the Bell System. Bell Labs completed the symbiotic relationship for the phone companies by writing and maintaining a full-spectrum of technical manuals known as Bell System Practices (BSP).     

An Invisible Bridge From Point A To Point B

Bell Laboratories instantly began developing and demonstrating for the first time, telecommunication technology, which we now depend on for economic growth and to hold our social fabric together. Bell accomplished the first transmitting of a long-distance, 128-line television images from New York to Washington, D.C. in 1927. This remarkable event ushered in television broadcast, creating a new form of mass-multimedia. Now people could gather together in the comfort of their homes and witness… live news reports, hours of entertainment and product advertisements, which helped to stimulate consumer spending in a growing economy.            Radio astronomy’s powerful space exploratory telescope, was developed through research conducted by Karl Jansky in 1931. During this decade, Bell lab’s George Paget Thomson was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery of electron diffraction, which was a key factor for solid-state.

The Forecasting Power of Numerical Data

An important component of renewable energy is the photovoltaic cell, which was developed in the lab during the 1940s by Russell Ohl. A majority of the United States’  statistician superstars, such as W. Edwards Deming, Harold F. Dodge, George Edwards, Paul Olmstead and Mary N.Torrey all came from Bell Labs Quality Assurance Department. W. Edwards Deming’s genius would later go on to help revitalize Japan’s industry and be used in Ford Motors’ successful, quality control initiatives in the 1980s.

W. Edwards Deming

The U.S. government used Bell Labs for a series of consulting projects relating to highly technical initiatives and for the Apollo program. Several Nobel Prizes have been awarded to researchers at the laboratory, adding to its fame and growing prestige. In the 1940s many of the Bell Labs were moved from New York City to nearby areas of New Jersey. …………………………………. Replica of the first transistor.

Smaller Is Better In The World Of Electronics

Inventors of the transistor, l. to r. Dr. William Shockley, Dr. John Bardeen, Dr. Walter Brattain, ca. 1956 Courtesy Bell Laboratories Perhaps Bell Laboratories most marvelous invention was the transistor invented on December 16, 1947Transistors are at the heart of just about all electrical devices you’ll use today. These crucial artifacts transformed the electronics industry, by miniaturizing multiple electronic components used in an ever-expanding array of products and technical applications. Transistor efficiencies also greatly reduced the amount of heat in electronic devices, while improving overall reliability and efficiency compared to fragile vacuum tube components. Once more, the lab’s select team of scientist was rewarded with the Nobel Prize in Physics, for essential components of telecommunications. 

The mobile-phone was also created in 1947, with the lab’s commercial launch of Mobile Telephone Service (MTS) for use in automobiles. Some 20 years later, cell phone technology was developed at Bell Labs and went on to become the ubiquitous form of communication it is today. In 1954 the lab began to harness the sun’s potential, by creating the world’s first modern solar cell. The laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) was dated in a Bell Lab, 1958 publication.  The laser’s growing spectrum of applications includes — communications, medical and consumer electronics.

A Perpetual Revolution In The Sky Unites The World

In 1962, Bell Labs pioneered satellite communications with the launch of Telstar 1, the first orbiting communication satellite. Telstar enabled virtually instant telephone calls to be bounced from coast to coast and throughout the world. This development unified global communications and provided instant 24-hour news coverage.      

 Bell Labs introduced the replacement of rotary dialing with touch-tone in 1963, this improvement vastly expanded telephone services with— 911 emergency response, voice mail and call service capabilities.

Image used in Byte Magazine for an article on VM2 assembly language. Photo-illustration by: David A. Johanson © All Rights

 

A New Distinct Language For Harnessing Machines

It’s been greatly underreported that Unix operating system, C and C++ programing languages,  essential for use in Information Technology (IT), were all created in Bell Labs. These crucial computer developments were established between 1969 and 1972, while C++ came later in the early 1980s. C programing was a breakthrough as a streamlined and flexible form of computer coding, making it one of the most widely used in today’s programing languages. Unix enabled comprehensive networking of diverse computing systems, providing for the internet’s dynamic foundation. Increasingly, Bell Laboratories inventions for the next two decades expanded micro-computing frontiers, which helped to establish personal computing.    

                                                                        In 1980, Bell Labs tested the first single-chip 32-bit microprocessor, enabling personal computers to handle complex multimedia applications.

 

A major corporate restructure of AT&T, the parent company of Bell Laboratories, was ordered  by the U.S.  Federal government in 1985, to split-up its subsidiaries as part of a  divestiture agreementThis event proved to be an example of overregulation, which severed important links for funding technology R&D projects. Although AT&T previously had an economic advantage with a monopoly in the telephone industry, it allowed for necessary funding of Bell R&D labs.  Indirectly, U.S. taxpayers made one of the best investments by subsidizing the foundation for our current telecommunication and information technology infrastructure. AT&T Bell Laboratories became AT&T Labs official new name in 1996, when it  became part of Lucent Technologies. Since 1996, AT&T Labs has been awarded over 2000 patens and has introduced hundreds of new products. In 2007, Lucent Bell and Alcatel Research merged into one organization under the name Bell Laboratories. Currently, the Labs’ purpose is directed away from science discovery and focussed on enhancing existing  technology, which will yield higher financial returns.

Pause & Reflect: Questions for continuous learning part 1.

1.) What were the first forms of electrical, point-to-point telecommunications? 2.) What revolution was taking place when early forms of telecommunications were invented and name at least two technology innovations? 3.) Define the word technology? 5.) Who founded Bell Research and Development Labs? 7.) Name at least two developments which Bell Labs were awarded Nobel Prizes in? 6.) Pick one Bell Lab invention, which you believe was most important for helping develop modern telecommunications or personal computing.

Any Sufficiently Advanced Technology Will Appear As Magic.

                                                                          — Arthur C. Clarke

 

Advance Technology Takes Root In The West

In the first half of the 20TH Century, Bell Labs’ dazzling R&D creations aligned seamlessly to establish a solid foundation in telecommunications. Most of the Labs’ bold research had been conducted in the industrialized, Eastern portion of the United States. By the 1950s, new evolving industries on the West Coast were benefiting from Bell’s technological developments. Palo Alto’s, Stanford University research facilities, south of San Francisco, attracted corporate transplants— most notably  IBM, General Electric and Eastman Kodak. In 1970, XEROX Corporation of Rochester, New York established a research center known as—Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center Incorporated). PARC’s impact in R&D would soon be felt, acting as a stimulating catalyst for personal computing and information technology development.  

 Creative Sanctuary For Nurturing Daring Ideas

Jack GoldmanChief Scientist at Xerox enlisted physicist Dr. George Pake, a specialist in nuclear magnetic resonance to help establish a new Xerox research center. Selecting the Palo Alto location gave the scientist greater freedom than was possible near its Rochester headquarters. The location also provided huge resource opportunities to select talent pools of engineers and scientist from the numerous research centers located in the Bay Area. Once the West-Coast lab had a foothold, it became a sanctuary for the company’s creative misfits— passionate science engineers who were determined to create boldly. One of the few downsides for the new facility’s location was—less opportunities for lobbying and promoting critical breakthrough developments to top management located a continent away. XEROX PARC had an inspiring creative influence, along with universal appeal, which attracted international visitors. A collaborative, open atmosphere helps to define the creative legacy of PARC. The cross-pollination of ideas and published research between the R&D facility and Stanford’s computer science community, pushed digital innovation towards new thresholds.

A Premier Of Personal Computing Tools Is Unveiled

XEROX PARC, discovered a target rich environment of ideas from  Douglas Engelbart, who worked at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park. Engelbart gave the Mother of all personal computing presentations in December of 1968, — astonishing the computer science audience with a remarkable debut of: the computer mouse, hypertext, email, video conferencing and much more. Bitmap graphic, graphical user interface (GUI), which provides window features and icons— are just a few of the revolutionary concepts developed by PARC for personal computing. The list of  PC  innovations and developments continues with laser printersWYSIWYG text editorInterPress (prototype of Postscript) and Ethernet as a local-area computer network—inspiring PARC Universal Packet architecture, which resembles today’s internet. Optical disc technologies and LCD, were developed by PARC material scientist adding yet more to its diverse technology portfolio.

 The Shape Of Things To Come

Xerox PARC’s R&D, efficiently blended these vital new technologies and leveraged it all into a personal computer, workstation, called  “Alto.” The futuristic Alto, was light-years ahead of its 1973 debut—bundled with a dynamic utility including: a mouse, graphical user interface and the connectivity of Ethernet. Interest in this revolutionary PC wonder kept expanding as countless demonstrations were given to the legions of intrigued individuals. The increasing demand for witnessing the power of PC computing was telegraphing the need for a new consumer market. For the first time, a “desktop sized computer”could match the capabilities of a full-service print shop. Advance technology always comes with a hefty price tag, and the Alto was no exception, making it beyond reach of most consumers. Despite a high price-point — excitement, fame and glory of Alto grew — as did admiration for the bold new world of Apple Computers and of its superstar founder — Steve Jobs.

Xerox Alto -1973 Was this the apple of Steve Job’s eye? It certainly was the first personal computer, which included most of the graphic interface features we recognize today.

Torch Of The Titans Lights New Horizons

By 1979, Apple was beginning to advance its own flavor of user-friendly interfaces with the development of the Lisa and Macintosh personal computers. Both products featured screens with multiple fonts, using bitmap screens for blending graphics and text. From early on, there were Apple graphic engineers associated with Xerox PARC — either through former employment or in connection with Stanford University. Apple engineers aware of advances made in graphic interfaces with PARC’s ALTO, prompted Steve Jobs to have a parlay with PARC. In late 1979, Steve Jobs with his Apple engineering entourage arrived to view an AlTO demonstration at Xerox facilities. The meeting’s outcome proved Jobs’ was a master of showmanship and marketing JudeJitsu by not disclosing a previously negotiated, sizable investment from Xerox’s venture capital group.

Gravitational forces began shifting in favor of Steve Jobs and Apple Computer to capitalize on the market potential for personal computing. PARC computer engineers and scientist clearly understood the economic potential of an information business they help to build… but top Xerox executives certainly did not.  Xerox had a history of dominating the lucrative copy machine market — this was the business model Xerox corporate decision makers were comfortable with and they would not risk venturing very far from.

Most of PARC’s personal computing developments experienced the same frustrating fate of being cherry picked by others —  allowing for lucrative opportunities to go for bargain rates to new companies like Apple Computers. Apple’s alchemy of — perfect timing, creative talent and visionary insight quickly aligned towards harnessing information technology products for an emerging market convergence. The creative inspiration and marketing savvy, which Steve Jobs’ applied towards personal computing—created  seismic ripple effects, which we’re still experiencing today.

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Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained  

Recently, there’s been a handful of media and tech industry critics, siting undeserved shortcomings of Bell Labs and Xerox PARC. Too often, corporate R&D labs are faulted for not fully marketing their technology developments or capitalizing on scientific inventions. Rarely mentioned in these over-simplistic reviews, is an understanding an R&D’s purpose or mission of innovation, which is directed by the parent company’s strategic goals. Failing to understand the reality of this relationship, detracts from the technological importance and diminishes the accomplishments of these remarkable engineers and scientists. Lost in the critics hindsight is an under-reporting of the titanic obstacles facing the marketing, manufacturing and distribution of innovative products.

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Thrilling technical breakthroughs are what grab headlines — rarely are the successful efforts of corporate marketing or brilliant production logistics recognized or mentioned.  It’s a disconnect to judge a R&D’ lab’s success completely on the financial returns of its inventions.

The laser printer in particular, removes the myth that Xerox PARC mismanaged all of its developments. Gary Starkweather, a brilliant optical engineer for Xerox PARC, developed the laser printer. Starkweather had pitched battles with Xerox management over promoting the laser printer, but eventually he triumphed and the laser printer went on to earn billions of dollars — enough to repay the investment cost of Xerox PARC several times over. Eventually Starkweather moved on to greater opportunities when Steve Jobs offered him a job in Cupertino.

Brilliant R&D technology, requires an equally creative or open-minded group of executives for  converting technology innovation into a marketable product.  These decision makers must maintain iron-wills and courage to shepherd the technology product through its entire volatile development process.

IBM’s iconic 305 RAMAC, the first commercial ‘super computer,’  is a classic example of a product development challenge. Introduced in 1956, the RAMAC featured a hard disk drive (HDD) and stored a — whopping five megabytes of data. Apparently, the HDD storage capacity could’ve been expanded well beyond the 5MB, but was not attempted because — IBM’s marketing department didn’t believe they could sell a computer with more storage.                   

IBM 305 RAMAC — first commercial computer to use a hard disk drive in 1956.

R&D Labs take creative risk in developing new ideas, most of these developments won’t make it to market, but that’s the price of creativity. Using intuition for taking risks and knowing some failure is necessary to pave the road toward successful discoveries — builds confidence in trusting one’s creative resources. So often, the creative-process is misunderstood and undervalued in our society’s perceived need for instant control and results. In the past, I’ve personally witnessed this attitude reflected in our educational system, however the viewpoint is  progressively shifting to realize the value of the creative-process. Steve Jobs and Apple Computers are a good illustration of a company, which traditionally emphasized and embraced the creative spirit. Creative employees are considered the most valued resource at Apple as they are encouraged to nurture their creative uniqueness. Shortsighted emphasis on quarterly results, which has affected most of American business culture, is refreshingly absent from Apple’s overall mindset, allowing for more sustained and successful business initiatives.

Where Have All The R&D Labs Gone — Innovation Versus Invention

The era of industrial, ‘closed inventive’ research & development labs — have faded into the background of yesterday’s business culture. Internal silos, once the proprietary norm, have been day-lighted to allow fresh ideas and collaborative efforts to circulate.

For the past 10 years, corporations have steadily reversed their long-term, pure scientific research in favor of  efforts towards quicker commercial returns. In 2011, Intel Corporation, dropped its  ’boutique’ research lablets‘ in Seattle, Berkeley and Pittsburgh  — opting for academic research to be conducted at university facilities. Intel continues to maintain its more profit oriented Intel Labs. This industry strategy, repeatedly cloned itself within the corporate research world, as it is far easier to realize a profit from innovation than pure invention.

Perhaps the golden-age of great research & development labs have run their course — but not before replacing the analogue, industrial era technology with a digital one. A century ago, using creative, innovative and bold scientific vision, Bell Labs set the standard for future R & D Labs. Xerox PARC, helped to extend Bell Labs’ marvelous inventions and innovations with a solid platform of creative research for developing mass markets in the postmodern telecommunications and personal computing of today.  ~

 

  Pause & Reflect: Questions for continuous learning – part 2. 1.) Name the parent company (based in New York) featured in the essay and its research and development lab, which moved into California’s Bay Area? 2.) What was the profitable product (used for duplicating documents), that  this company had originally been built on? 3.) Give at least two reasons why this R&D lab was so inventive? 4.) What stopped the lab’s parent company from realizing more profits from its inventions? 5.) What was the name of  both the young, iconic tech entrepreneur and his company (named after a red fruit), who was able to creatively package and market early Silicone Valley PC innovations? 6.) What’s the difference between invention and innovation? 7.) In your opinion, who were the top 10 inventors of all time and how did they make your top 10?

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References & Links    

wp- CREATIVE COMMUNITIES v5.indd
Bell Labs – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bell Labs
Telstar 1: The Little Satellite That Created the Modern World 50 Years Ago | Wired Science | Wired.com
Was Bell Labs Overrated? – Forbes
Top 10 Greatest Inventors in History | Top 10 Lists | TopTenz.net
History of Lucent Technologies Inc. – FundingUniverse
Volatile and Decentralized: The death of Intel Labs and what it means for industrial research
Inventive America | World | Times Crest
Bell Labs Kills Fundamental Physics Research | Gadget Lab | Wired.com
http://www.westernelectric.com/history/WEandBellSystemBook.pdf
HistoryLink.org- the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History
Xerox PARC, Apple, and the Creation of the Mouse : The New Yorker
1956 Hard Disk Drive – Disk Storage Unit for 305 RAMAC Computer
IBM 305 RAMAC: The Grandaddy of Modern Hard Drives
WSJ mangles history to argue government didn’t launch the Internet | Ars Technica
A History of Silicon Valley

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Blinded By Light, In The Middle Of Night

 
Multimedia eLearning program by: David A. Johanson © All Rights  — Second Edition

The author is a multimedia specialist, CTE instructor and a former Boeing scientific photographer. For an alternative formatted view of this program, please visit — www.ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com

 

My photo wingman, Rick Wong and I headed into the heart of darkness in a quest for the Perseid meteor showers. Mount Rainier National Park, was our destination to use its iconic landmark for framing an infinite field of stars—far from the glare of city lights. Traveling at night in Rick’s new hybrid Ford Fusion, equipped with “information technology”—voice navigation, made it easy finding the park without using a map.

Arriving at our location, luminous stars lit up the night as expected, but we were surprised by some uninvited competition, which nearly stole the show.

A stunning view of Mount Rainier reflected in Reflection Lake, with the summer stars overhead. The pink and orange glow on the left side of the mountain is light pollution emitted from the City of Tacoma, approximately 65 miles northwest.

We found an ideal location above Reflection Lake to begin our photo shoot, with one of the Cascade Mountain’s most famous stratovolcano in the background. An unexpected warm light was glowing behind Mount Rainier, which I reasoned, was a faint remnant from the earlier sunset. However, the sun had set at least four hours earlier, so it couldn’t be the source of the illumination. Rick suggested “its light coming from the City of Tacoma,” located about 65 miles away. During a 20-second long exposures used to take an image of the snow-capped mountain, I began thinking about the effects caused by light pollution.
With a bright moon rising, we worked fast to keep up with the changing light, until its intensity eventually overpowered the stars.

Just now, the moon was rising higher into the night sky, it too was causing us to shift focus on what to photograph. Like a giant diffuse reflector, the moon reflected soft, filtered light onto a previously dark, formless landscape. Moonlight was beginning to compete with the canopy of stars’ brilliance, partially masking crystal clear views of the Milky Way, along with some meteor sightings. So being photo opportunist, we used the moonlight to illuminate shadow-detail on Rainier’s south face.

Like some sorcerer conjuring an intense cauldron of red light, the photographer adjusts his digital settings before Mount Rainier and her crown of stars above.

A Peaceful Paradise Lost                                                                                             There’s a tranquil feeling while in the process of taking long exposures at night; it’s normally quiet and not many visual distractions overwhelm the senses or interrupt your focus. I personally enjoy these rare opportunities of solitude, to visualize an image, using a minimal, Zen like perspective.

 

When a distraction, like a car suddenly rounding a corner occurs, it’s often an annoyance, which takes you out of the moment. My moment was taken by clusters of cars, with glaring lights as they came around a turn… just as the moon illuminated the mountain, as it was reflected onto a perfectly still lake.. Their headlights flooded the calm mirror-like water and stands of old growth trees beyond with glaring intensity— as I used my hands in an attempt to shield the lens from light flare. Finally, the cars diapered into the darkness with no more approaching vehicles until dawn.

Photo-illustration of micro light sources, which can cause light pollution by unintended spill-light.

Moving above the lake to find new angles for interesting compositions, I took notice of something not seen before. Lights of various colors were coming from photographers bellow me, created by their digital camera’s preview monitors and infrared sensors for auto focusing. With the low light-sensitive Nikon cameras I was using, these multicolored monitor lights, appeared like a bright flare on the long exposure images. Now, I had one more unwelcome light source to avoid, which required strategic timing in the photo’s exposures to minimize glare.

Again, my thoughts returned to the issues of light pollution. Recalling the time back home, when I attempted to photograph some constellations at night, only to have a neighbor’s motion sensor flood light, overwhelmed the backyard with brightness. The piercing light  forced me to find the last remaining, isolated shadowed corner of the yard.

My reminiscing was cut short by a distant, but bright, pinpoint of light from bellow Mount Rainier’s summit. Flashlights from mountain climbers near Camp Muir shined bright—like lighthouse beacons from the semi darkened rocks and glacier fields on the mountain. Even the faintest light can shine bright at night as was noted during World War II, when warships were forbidden from having any exterior lights on at night — including a lit cigarette, which posed a risk of being spotted from great distances by enemy submarines.

Lights from mountain climbers on the approach to the summit of Mount Ranier.

Encountering the Universe’s Brilliance                                                                       The improper, overuse of outdoor lighting has erased one of our basic and most powerful human experiences—encountering the universe’s brilliance with its galaxies and billions of stars shining in the night sky! Making visual contact with our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is one of the greatest shows seen from Earth.

 

In less than a century of civilization’s reliance on electric technology: two-thirds of the U.S., half of Europe and a fifth of people in the world—now live where they cannot see the Milky Way with the unaided eye. You can appreciate how we lost our stellar view by seeing aerial photos taken from orbiting spacecraft and the International Space Station. These startling images taken of the Earth at night, reveal a man-made galaxy of artificial light, which cancels out much of the real one in the sky above.

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Some years back, I was a part-owner in a small recreational ranch, in Eastern Washington’s, Okanogan County. Brining friends over from Seattle, it was often nighttime when we arrived. The instant of exiting the cars, was a startling event as the Milky Way’s intensity of light overwhelmed your senses. The “ranch” was remotely located, at about 5,000 feet in the mountains, near the Canadian border and 30-miles from the closest town. Days would go by where we didn’t see a car or even hear a small airplane go overhead… it was one of the most refreshing experiences of my life, to perceive nothing except wind going through trees and seeing only starlight at night for hours at a time.

Image courtesy of NASA

A television interview with the director of a major observatory in Southern California recounted when Los Angeles had its last electrical blackout —people were calling 911 and his observatory, with reports of strange, bright objects in the night sky. Actually, what the callers were seeing for the first time, was the Milky Way’s canopy of shining stars.

   

Image courtesy of NASA.

Besides forfeiting a life inspiring, wondrous view of the cosmos, there’s tangible losses associated with light pollution. Conservative estimates are—30 % of U.S. outdoor lighting is pointed skyward in the wrong direction, which wastes billions of dollars of electricity. The unnecessary practice of lighting clouds, burns more than 6 million tons of coal, which adds: harmful greenhouse gas emissions, along with toxic chemicals into our atmosphere and water.

Further scientific studies indicate wildlife is suffering the ill effects of excessive urban lighting. The City of Chicago has taken measures to turn off or dim its high-rise lighting to enable migrating birds to continue normal migration patterns. An increase in species of insects attracted to light along with rodents, which are drawn towards bright city lighting, is a growing concern to many scientists.

Heavy equipment product shots never look quite this good. Scheduled improvements to the viewing area above Reflection Lake, had some equipment, taking a nap, before going to work when the sun came up.

Education Is the Solution to Light Pollution                                                                    The reason light pollution continues to expand is, we have grown accustomed to its seemingly benign presence. After all, probably no one can point to a single case of a person killed from overexposure to light pollution. However, there is a growing correlation of health risks associated with overexposure from artificial light. Some of the main symptoms include, physical fatigue and damage to eyesight. This lighting health risk was recognized in 2009, when the American Medical Association officially established a policy, which supports the control of light pollution.

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Municipal lighting codes are beginning to help define and eliminate unnecessary light pollution. Lighting enforcement can create a more pleasing environment, by reducing excessive urban lighting, which causes fatigue from glare and cuts down on unnecessary electric utility cost. Redirecting outdoor lighting away from the sky where it is needlessly wasted is a simple and easy solution.

Installing motion detector security lights are another efficient and productive mitigation strategy. For security purpose, a light, which is triggered by motion is much more effective for crime prevention than a continuous floodlight. Motion detector lights have a clear advantage of focussing our attention onto an area, which is triggered by a sudden change from darkness to bright-light.

The light intensity of the Milky Way is a breathtaking wonder to witness at night —` unrestricted light-pollution has faded this wonder from what was once a valued human experience. You can see the Andromeda Galaxy in the right 1/3 of the frame. Nikon D700 – Nikkor 28mm lens @ F3.5 @ 20 seconds August 11 11:48 p.m.

 

The encouraging news is… the key to reducing light pollution is a simple matter of basic education and action. Public awareness of over-lighting requires a minimal expenditure, which will quickly pay for itself in energy savings and perhaps return the opportunity to experience one of the greatest shows seen from earth. ~

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Light pollution glossary:

Urban Sky glow: the brightening of the night skies over municipalities and communities, caused primarily from high-volumes  of collective, reflected light and poorly directed light, which is pointed upward or not shielded properly.

Light trespass: light falling or spilling into areas where it is not intended. Also know as “spill light” – as in municipal streetlights, which go beyond the intended illumination of street signs and sidewalks, causing an unwanted exterior lighting of residential homes.

Glare: A direct, bright or harsh light, which causes discomfort or pain. The effects of glare can be reduced or eliminated with the use of a shield or filter.

Uplight: Light angled inappropriately upward towards the sky and serving no purpose. Uplight washes out the night sky and reduces opportunities for astronomers and star-gazer to enjoy the beauty of the planets, moon and stars.

Light Clutter: Poorly planned, confusing and unpleasant use of grouped lights usually associated with urban or retail lighting. Retail business often trying to outdo the competition by using overly bright, multicolored or pulsating lights.

Links to articles & information on light pollution:

http://news.discovery.com/animals/light-pollution-a-growing-problem-for-wildlife.html

www.darksky.org/assets/documents/is001.pdf

www.njaa.org/light.html

www.skymaps.com/articles/n0109.html

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_pollution

ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/Light_Pollution      

Luminous Beauty of Low-light Photography

Multimedia eLearning by: David Anthony Johanson  © All Rights

David A Johanson is a multimedia specialist, CTE instructor and former Boeing scientific photographer. All images and text were created by the author.

All photographs featured in this photo essay were taken in the Pacific Northwest during the winter season, using low-light, natural illumination. The camera used was a Nikon D700.

As a filmmaker and photographer who uses many forms of light, low-ambient-light has always been a rare delight.  “Magic hour” also know as golden hour, is a term cinematographer’s originated for the holy grail of eye-candy lighting. This dramatic, low-angle light begins minutes before sunset, then dramatically merges into dusk, before entering the realm of twilight.

An enchanting view of Snoqualmie Falls during a record deep freeze. HDR photo technique using a Nikon D700

Magic hour was the gateway for me to explore and develop a passion for this wonderful transcendental light. After sunset, the busy activity of the world begins to wind-down… becoming still, before renewing itself for a new day. When twilight arrives, it presents opportunities to observe and record subtle events, which many of us are not aware of as we dream part of the night away. Digital technology has recently entered a new threshold by producing a select breed of cameras, capable of capturing this marvelous luminosity.

Low angle view of Snoqualmie Falls using HDR technique.

What I relied on before the recent advance in low-light digital imaging is a process termed: HDR photography (High Dynamic Range.)  Basically the technique requires a steady tripod for a camera to take a series of images; typically three to eight exposures are taken of a scene.  At least one image of the scene is under exposed; another exposed for what the camera or light meter indicates as a “correct” exposure, and at least one final, over-exposed image completes the HDR series. The intent is to record the entire range of tonal values, from the subject of interest.

Unlike the human eye, which is our unique window for visualizing the world — most camera light sensors lack the sensitivity to record a wide range of tones within the frame. Typically, if only one exposure is used to record a scene with normal or high contrast, the Camera’s light sensor will compress some tonal values, with tones being lost either in the high or low-end of the scale. HDR photography attempts to solve this limitation by combing multiple exposures to record a more dynamic range of tonal values, which later can be combined to create one image in post-production. The results produced with the HDR process are vivid photographs, which present an image closely resembling our initial impression of a scene. 

Iconic Snoqualmie Falls, encased in ice. HDR photo technique.

Of photo pros I know using HDR applications, Photomatix, has been popular for the past few years. It’s a powerful tool, with flexibility and control to help produce impressive results.  Another favored choice for a HDR app, is found bundled within Adobe’s Photoshop.

An acquaintance recently sent me a YouTube link for promoting Nikon’s HDR software. What I saw featured in Nikon’s video was over processed, over-the-top HDR images.  Perhaps it’s a good app, but the promotion relied on too much eye-candy for my taste. In conversations with fellow photographers and multimedia producers the question becomes — at what point does a skilled technique turn into a gimmick?  Some viewers go gaga for the over processed look, with an image appearing unbelievably surreal, and more suited for an illustration or painting.  As with most pursuits, moderation offers the best results at the end of the day. Taste is all subjective, however, for photography, I prefer an image which retains a photo quality character, versus an over-saturated illustration. Perhaps in our contemporary digital media environment, which presents a constant tsunami of image content, there’s a perceived need to push the limits of effects. Okay, I’m finished with my soapbox moment, of the good, the bad, and ugly use of HDR photography.

I still enjoy using HDR technique, but now more sparingly, since I found a camera capable of producing a dynamic tonal range image,  from a single exposure of low-light environments.

 

 

A parade of snow storms blankets the Pacific Northwest. In-between snow showers, ice sculptures glisten beneath the night stars. Single exposure using a Nikon D700

Occasionally we’ll have powerful snowstorms roar through the Puget Sound area, which presents some exciting, low-light photo opportunities. One evening, at midnight the conditions were perfect for night photography, with crystal clear visibility. Graceful, fast-moving clouds were gliding overhead, then suddenly, an opening appeared to reveal a splendid shimmering of stars from above.

These featured “night snow images” were delightful to capture, as they revealed an enchanting, dreamlike quality to them. The reflective character of snow, also creates a subtle luminosity on the surrounding frozen landscapes. A blend of moon and starlight filtered through shifting openings of clouds, which merged with street lighting to create an infrared-photographic look. All these snow scenes were created from one exposure, made possible by using my low-light Nikon D700 camera.

The night’s stillness sparkles with reflected light.

Winter snow clouds mix with the deep blue night sky. Single exposure using a Nikon D700

Here’s some technical photographic information about low-light photography. Nikon’s D3s is the current leader in high ISO for low-light environments, using the second-generation of full frame, FX sensors. The Nikon D3 and D700 produce the same image quality as each other, with both featuring Nikon’s first-generation full frame, FX sensor cameras.  Surprisingly, Nikon designed the D3s with the same 12+ megabyte resolution as the D3, instead of doubling the amount of mega-pixels. By not inflating the pixel count, it allowed for the same pixel size or “pixel pitch” as the D3 and D700.  Apparently, this matrix extensively increases sensor sensitivity. Currently, FX sensors are the masters of low light by out performing DX sensors by 3 stops.

  If you decide to try low-light night photography, be prepared for challenging conditions and dress to keep warm. Whether you choose to use HDR techniques or single image capture, get ready to discover the wondrous illumination, that low-light photography will reveal to you.

Luminous winter stars prevail and shine through another set of passing clouds. Single exposure using a Nikon D700

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The Day-After 9/11…Ten Years After

Photos and text by: David Johanson Vasquez  © All Rights Reserved

Probably anyone reading this essay will never forget what they were doing on the day of and the following day-after the World Trade Center attack of 9/11.

An early start on a tragic morning—On September 11, 2001,  I got up early at 5:00 a.m. to begin packing for my fiancé and I’s flight from Seattle to Honolulu. After feeding the cats I made a cup of coffee, while listening to the morning news. It took a moment to register that there was a serious event taking place in New York City. I changed the channel… just to make sure there wasn’t some misreporting of what was happening.  In shock, I moved to wake my fiancé—informing her of something really bad was going to the east coast. We held each other while watching the news, then we began making phone calls to family and friends to see if they were watching what had just happened.

My memory accelerated into reverse, towards my first trip to New York City in 1998.  A cousin had taken me on a well planned tour of Lower Manhattan, where we visited the ‘”Twin Towers” to gain a most fantastic view of the City. Now… I kept wondering if my family and friends were okay in Manhattan… what was going on in their lives at this moment? More news reports of other horrible attacks, then a FAA directive announcement to recall and ground all flights in transit immediately. The information was approaching sensory overload. This situation was escalating into something extremely serious, chances were our wedding plans would be forced to hold, perhaps even indefinitely.

The eerie sound of silence—As evening approached, the directive to ground all aircraft began to create an eerie feeling. Our home, which we purchased just a few months before, is located north of Seattle in the city of Everett. Paine Field, a major regional airport is within a couple of miles of our home and Boeing assembles commercial aircraft there, including the Jumbo 747 as well as its 767 airliner, which were used in the terrorist attacks earlier that day.

What was so strange, was the silence of not hearing any aircraft sounds going overhead.  This somber stillness created a feeling straight out of a science fiction movie—in fact I notice a sustained absence of  any sounds; no car noise or people outside talking — as if the world was standing still within a vacuum. I forced myself from thinking… the years when I was a Boeing photographer, if I had photographed one of the 767 aircraft during its production cycle,  which had been used in the terrorist attacks.

Suspended animation — As the afternoon turned into evening, fighter jets appeared in the sky, pacing back and forth like a cat waiting to pounce on its pray. Later as night approached we could hear the steady high altitude drone of bombers and military transport aircraft flying towards Canadian airspace—heading north for an apparent polar route to reach intended deployments; it was obvious now, our nation was going to war.

I stayed up late to see if there would be other information, to let us know if airline flights were to resume. Having slept very little, I got up before light, preparing to depart for our pre-wedding flight to Honolulu.  As dawn arrived there was no definite news as to if flights would be resuming again; so we picked up my stepdaughter Dena, her husband Dave and son to go to the airport.

On the drive to Seattle/Tacoma International Airport, I recall our grandson Jacob asking why was our nation attacked, but none of us had an answer to offer which made sense.  Arriving at the airport was that returning feeling of, stepping into a set of some sci-fi feature, troops and police packing machine guns were on sentry;  just about everyone we saw looked like they were in a daze. One of my best friends I had known since we first met as Boeing photographers, came up and gave us the airline flight status. Rick and his wife Kathy had arrived the day before, to fly out for our wedding, but the 9/11 attacks halted all flights before they could board their plane.

It now was clear, no one would be flying for the foreseeable future, so we had our party of family and friends meet us at a nearby restaurant for a dialogue on an action plan. We decide to try postponing our wedding for one month, then, hopefully all of us would be able to fly out to Hawaii for our planned ceremony.

The resumed flight to paradise — In October we followed through with our wedding plans.  Our ceremony took place outside of Honolulu, on a beach, which was used in a famous kissing scene in the 1953 classic: “From Here to Eternity,” — starring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr. A month after the 9/11 attacks, we were some of the first travelers to arrive in Hawaii from the mainland.  The hotel’s front desk shared with us — how for the first few days following the attacks, most tourist did not leave their rooms for days… they just wanted to watch any news updates from television.

The shadow of judgement—The weeks following 9/11, I recall experiencing some undue scrutiny from a few strangers who gave hostile stares at me, due to my “Mediterranean appearance.” Part of my family heritage is Panamanian and the other Swedish; so if someone was judgmental and didn’t know anything about my background  — they might ignorantly try to project they’re suspicious spotlight onto me. We often forget of this misguided act of— “terrorism in the name of religion” — no one has suffered more wrongful deaths and injury than innocent Arab people, from many nations of the world.  The terrorist attacks were carried out by an extremely small group of people… representing their own narrow, hate consuming judgments towards the United States.  Blind-ignorance about our Nation’s true values, misguided the terrorist to believe attacks would succeed in crushing our will and faith. Actually, the 9/11 attacks created the opposite effect of what the Islamic Fascist’s intended goals were— it challenged us as a Nation to become a united people and use our collective-will to counter the terrorist’s misanthropic agenda.

Tour of tower two—In my 1998 tour of the World Trade Center’s tower two, I was first impressed with a beautiful water fountain sculpture at the base of the towers. Looking directly upwards, over a thousand feet towards the blue sky, the vertical lines of the twin towers appeared to merge together.

          

My cousin, Randy and I entered the towers to register for a trip to the Top of the World Observatory… we were clustered together with a group of about 20 people. All of us were going to the top floors, but first, a digital photo was taken of our group. Three uniformed security personnel were focused in on the monitors, studying the biometric photos, which were just taken of our group. Five years before, in 1993 the first terrorist attacks on the twin tower were carried out.  Since those previous attacks, the port authority used digital biometric surveillance in efforts for spotting terrorist attempting reconnaissance for another attack.

A community within itself—Once we de-boarded from a  thousand foot elevator ride to the 107th floor, I was impressed with a feeling of energy created by simultaneous activity and interaction. It was like a community within itself, with so many people of different nationalities speaking a variety of languages. I also recall a splendid collection of art on the walls, gift shops, information kiosk and exhibit displays.  Wonderful aromas of gourmet food wafted through the hallways from the famous “Windows of the World” restaurant, which had until the 2001 attacks, the highest-grossing revenue in the United States.     

A view from top of the world— Stepping onto the 110 floors “Top of the World” observation deck gave a feeling of sensory overload—a stunning, 360 degree panorama view of the surrounding mega metropolis was a powerful encounter. Just the week before, as I flew over New York City’s Manhattan districts, I experience something totally new from flying over an urban center. My impression was the city of New York is literally, a living entity in its own right. The metropolis’ massive size, density and texture appeared to have a unique personality… a consciousness of its own, which I wasn’t expecting to encounter.  Back on the observation deck, it was a photographer’s paradise for incredible aerial views of the City’s iconic architecture.

Twin towers architectural design—Completed in 1973, the twin towers were designed by a Seattle born architectMinoru Yamasaki was a first-generation Japanese American, whose innovative architecture style was used to design—The Pacific Science Center, for “The Century 21 Exposition/1962 Seattle Worlds Fair,” which shares similar design elements with the twin towers. Yamasaki also designed one of Seattle’s most daring pieces of architecture— the Rainier Tower, which is supported by a gravity defying, inverted pedestal! One more connection with the twin towers and Seattle is the architect’s, IBM Building design, which was used as a model for the NYC twin tower design. The twin towers architectural style is gothic modernism which can be seen used in most of Minoru’s designs (please see examples of gothic modernism elements in the photographs below.)

          

Inspiration found from the rising phoenix— It’s nearly 9:00 p.m. PDT on September 10th, as I’m finishing up my writing for the photo essay; “The Day After 9/11 – Ten Years After.”  I just finished watching an unexpected, major fireworks display, from our home’s second story window. It was coming from the town of Mukilteo, which is on Puget Sound, next to the Boeing Plant and Paine Field Airport.  Watching the pyrotechnic display, the words of our national anthem came to mind. In an instant, came an insight for me… a silver lining taken from our nation’s tragic sacrifice—illuminating a message from the darkness, like a powerful roman candle roaring upwards to the heavens as it releases spectacular multicolored content.

Despite a tragic attack, which Francis Scott Key refers to in tribute anthem for our country—  we, as in the spirit of our nation’s flag, are still here, firmly remaining strong and defiant.  Now, as New York City’s Freedom Towers are nearing completion, with their foundation next to the footprint of those former shinning twin towers, the spirit of our Nation is rising from the tragic ashes… to reach towards the heavens, once again.  ~

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