Grand Canyon Skywalk

Posted by batman on Oct 15th, 2009
2009
Oct 15

skywalk01.jpg

Extract from the Official Site

The Grand Canyon Skywalk is an architectural marvel. The Skywalk was completed in March 2007 after 2.5 years and 30 million dollars worth of hard work and engineering. This structure weighs an astonishing 1.571 million pounds, and was built to withstand an excess of 71 million pounds in weight on top of it. (That’s the equivalent of 71 fully-loaded 747 airliners piled one on top of the other!)

This amazing ability to withstand weight as well as the forces of nature is due to the Skywalk’s 2 inch thick steel frame which is designed specifically to flex in the heat, cold, and wind. This frame is anchored to the Grand Canyon by casens and micro piles measuring 46 feet down into the solid bedrock.

The specially-made German glass which forms the platform for our guests to walk the experience also plays a big part in the durability and beauty of Skywalk. Each of the 46 panes forming the walkway are constructed of 5-layers of glass bonded together and laminated, weighing in at 1,200 lbs a piece, and making the glass incredibly strong while still providing a crystal-clear view of the canyon below.

skywalk03.jpg

Extract from Wikipedia

The Skywalk protrudes 20 metres beyond the edge of the canyon. The walls and floor are built from glass 50.8 mm thick. The glass appears tinted on both edges; however, this is a protective cushioning for the glass. This running along the sides can be used as a sort of safe zone by nervous visitors. While the Skywalk is capable of holding 70 tons of weight (the equivalent of 800 people weighing 80 kg each), the permitted capacity is limited to 200 persons. Visitors are provided with shoe covers to protect them from slipping and to prevent the glass floor from being scratched.

Construction began in March 2004. It was rolled onto the edge of the canyon on March 7, 2007, after passing several days of testing to replicate weather, strength, and endurance conditions of its final destination. The structure was built to withstand up to 160 km/h winds and a magnitude 8 earthquake. Tuned mass dampers were used to minimize vibration from wind and pedestrians.

skywalk02.jpg




High Definition Image

View this extraordinary image of the Skywalk – 14,647 × 6,001 pixels, file size: 43.43 MB




References:

http://www.grandcanyonskywalk.com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Canyon_Skywalk

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/12/Grandcanyon_skywalk_hd.jpg


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Canon EOS 350D Kit Lens upgrade

Posted by batman on Jul 24th, 2009
2009
Jul 24

eos_digital_rebel_xt_4.jpg

I have had my Canon EOS 350D for some years now, and have finally decided to upgrade my standard “kit” lens – the 18-55 mm cheap, plastic one that many wouldn’t want if you gave it to them. It has given me many good photo’s, but I must admit to looking longingly at those exquisite photo’s in the glossy travel mags, and wish that mine could look a little more professional, and a little less entry-level.

So far it seems that my upgrade options are the following:

  • Canon EFS 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM (ZAR 6,200)
  • Canon EF 17-40mm f4.0 L USM (ZAR 9,300)
  • Canon EFS 17-55 mm f 2.8 IS USM (ZAR 11,800)

To put this into perspective – photography is a hobby. I try to take photo’s that are interesting, unusual and “correct” – if there is such a thing. But I get no remuneration for my hobby (I can’t call it my work if I don’t get paid for it) – and from this point of view spending almost ZAR 12,000 (which in South Africa can get you a small, second-hand car) is difficult to justify, if not downright unaffordable.

I first started considering the 17-85 mm (because it is the cheapest “proper” lens). I am not yet considering Sigma and Tamron options, because I would dearly like to have a Canon lens, especially if I am paying a significant amount on it.

I would be prepared to pay the ZAR 6,200 for the 17-85 mm, but would really like to hear from fellow photographers if it would be worth my while spending this money to replace an 18-55 mm with a 17-85 mm lens – in other words since I am not gaining anything in lens length, I would need to see the results in quality of picture alone – would I get that with the 17-85 mm?

Although a lot of people love this lens, almost as many don’t. Many would suggest spending the extra money to get the 17-40 mm, but I need to find justification in spending an additional ZAR 3,000. This is an “L” lens, so has extremely top quality glass, but then again doesn’t have Image Stabilization.

The 17-55 mm is admittedly the cream of (this) crop – fast, with IS, USM and incredibly clear pictures – few would dispute this. But it is perhaps too expensive for me.

Would someone like me – an amateur photographer – be happy with and enjoy the 17-85 mm? It would be my walkabout lens, i.e. the lens that I would leave on the camera, and use it for kids birthday parties, the occasional sunsets and as often as possible – wide-angle landscapes? I have also dabbled with portraits, and so would use this lens for that as well.

Any comments would really be appreciated.

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Sailing Stones, Death Valley, California

Posted by batman on Jul 23rd, 2009
2009
Jul 23

Sailing Stones, Death Valley, CaliforniaDeep in the heart of the California desert lies one of the natural world’s most puzzling mysteries: the moving rocks of Racetrack Playa, Death Valley. These are not ordinary moving rocks that tumble down mountainsides in avalanches, are carried along riverbeds by flowing water, or are tossed aside by animals. These rocks, some as heavy as 700 pounds, are inexplicably transported across a virtually flat desert plain, leaving erratic trails in the hard mud behind them, some hundreds of yards long. They move by some mysterious force, and in the nine decades since we have known about them, no one has ever seen them move.

Sailing Stones, Death Valley, CaliforniaThe floor of the playa is dried, scorched mud which has broken into perfect little octagons and pentagons and mosaic. This is as “desert” as you can get in America. It’s as flat as flat can be. With rocks which seem to move on their own. They break off the hills you see in the background. Their tracks vary in length, going every which way from zig-zags to loops; some double back on themselves. Some travel only a few feet; others go for hundreds of yards, yet they can be right next to each other, and right next to some that don’t move at all.

These sailing stones, also referred to as sliding rocks or moving rocks, are assumed to slowly move across the surface of the playa, inferred from the long tracks behind them, without human or animal intervention. They have neither been seen nor filmed in motion and are not unique to The Racetrack. Similar rock travel patterns have been recorded in several other playas in the region but the number and length of travel grooves on The Racetrack are notable.

Racetrack stones only move once every two or three years and most tracks last for just three or four years. Stones with rough bottoms leave straight striated tracks while those with smooth bottoms wander. Stones sometimes turn over, exposing another edge to the ground and leaving a different-sized track in the stone’s wake.Sailing Stones, Death Valley, California

A balance of specific conditions are thought to be needed for stones to move:

  • A saturated yet non-flooded surface,
  • Thin layer of clay,
  • Very strong gusts as initiating force,
  • Strong sustained wind to keep stones going.

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Clingstone Mansion, Rhode Island

Posted by batman on Jul 23rd, 2009
2009
Jul 23

Clingstone Mansion, Rhode IslandClingstone, an unusual, 103-year-old mansion in Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay. The house was abandoned in the 1940’s until it was bought by Henry Wood in 1961 for $3,600.

Henry Wood, the owner, runs the house like a camp: all skilled workers welcome. The Jamestown Boatyard hauls the family’s boats and floating dock and stores them each winter in return for a week’s use of the house in the summer. Mr. Wood, a 79-year-old Boston architect, bought the house with his ex-wife Joan in 1961. It had been empty for two decades.

Clingstone had been built by a distant cousin, J.S. Lovering Wharton. Mr. Wharton worked with an artist, William Trost Richards, to create a house of picture windows with 23 rooms on three stories radiating off a vast central hall.Clingstone Mansion, Rhode Island

The house is maintained by an ingenious method: the Clingstone work weekend. Held every year around Memorial Day, it brings 70 or so friends and Clingstone lovers together to tackle jobs like washing all 65 of the windows. Anne Tait, who is married to Mr. Wood’s son Dan, refinished the kitchen floor on one of her first work weekends.

The total cost of the construction, which was completed in 1905, was $36,982.99. Today, the mansion which has 360-degree views of the bay offers a combination of grandiose opulence and rough beach house charm. The mansion itself is massive containing 23 room, including 10 bedrooms spread out over three floors.

Clingstone Mansion, Rhode Island

Clingstone Mansion, Rhode Island

Credits must go to http://mystic-places.blogspot.com, who have created a fantastic blog of mystical places – something that I’ve always wanted to do. They got there before me!

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My Photographic Efforts #1 – Botanical Gardens

Posted by batman on Apr 29th, 2009
2009
Apr 29

I took these photo’s at the Botancical Gardens just outside Worcester, Western Cape, South Africa.

I have a Canon EOS 350D, with the standard 18-55 mm lens. Botanical Gardens, Worcester, South Africa
Botanical Gardens, Worcester, South Africa
Botanical Gardens, Worcester, South Africa
Botanical Gardens, Worcester, South Africa
Botanical Gardens, Worcester, South Africa

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