March 23rd, 2014


A Very Pleasant Saturday

The sun came out in bursts and fits -- but not when I was taking any pictures. (grin)

This week's Worst Chefs in America featured Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay trying to teach the cooks to make Eggs Benedict. Mrs. Dr. Phil said she wished she had the Grand Coney's Eggs Benny Florentine. I said that on Saturday, we'd go out for breakfast at Grand Coney's in Allendale, then head off to the noon showing of Divergent at the Holland 7.

We don't go out for breakfast.

Curled up in a cute little booth way in the back that I can actually fit in, I had my usual, what I call a Two-Eyed Texan. Pancakes, 2 eggs over easy that will sit atop the cakes and bacon. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Staying seated, I didn't have a good angle on Mrs. Dr. Phil's Benny Florentine, especially with the plate of seasoned waffle fries in front and a lens that only goes out to 28mm (42mm FX equivqlent), so I took a second shot. The fries we snuck into the movies with us. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Around 11:22am, heading south on US-31, I spotted one of the unit coal trains running empty from the big coal power plant.

I never get to photograph trains these days.

I eventually pulled ahead, took a side road, turned around and recrossed the grade crossing. But the train was already sounding its horn, so I continued on south, worried that the tracks would head off away from US-31 before I could get into position.

Then I remembered the pet food elevator. Big gravel lot, and the tracks just start to curve away. So I pulled in, got out the Nikon D100, reset it from ISO 1600 that I'd used at the restaurant, down to ISO 200, to maximize the image despite the crappy overcast light. And then I did something I rarely do -- put the camera on Continuous instead of Single. I hadn't tested the D100 on "full auto" firing before.

The D100 shoots at 3 frames per second, but it may be closer to 2.5 fps with just one Li ion battery, and a buffer only 6 frames deep. I checked the specs when I got home. Lucky I only fired a 6 frame burst. (grin) The heavier old pro Nikon DSLRs I have are faster and have larger memory buffers (D1 -- 4.5 fps for 21 frames, D1X -- 3 fps for 27 frames, D1H -- 5fps for 40 frames) and I get spoiled by their response. Honestly, for my shooting 20-40 frames at up to 5 fps is fine for me.

First four frames, approaching the grade crossing. I like the composition of Frame 4, but for railfanning, I need more of a classic three-quarters view. (Click on photos for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Frame 5: Just a tad early but the lead locomotive is pretty visible. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

4000hp BNSF EMD SD70MAC 9764 and 4300hp BNSF EMD SD70ACe 9167. The ACe replaced the MAC, meeting the EPA Tier 2 diesel emissions, while picking up some horsepower. So the trailing locomotive is newer. In case you care. (grin)
Frame 6: This is why I don't use motor drives to just crank off frames willy-nilly. I've just clipped the front pilot and handrails of the lead locomotive. If I was panning and composing for the One True Shot, I would've fired at about Frame "5.5".
(Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

On the way home, I decided to take 120th Avenue north of M-45. There'd been signs for construction and road closed on Rich Street west of 120th and I suspected this was due to the M-231 construction project. I was right.

Continued up to North Cedar, the back road from 104th Avenue to US-31 in Grand Haven. And just west of 120th I could see a shiny new overpass for M-231.

Turned into the construction entrance to see if I could see the actual crossing for the Grand River. Looking at the maps later, I should have tried the even further back road to find the south shore of the Grand River. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

The lens I had only went out to 80mm (120mm FX equivalent). This isn't the bridge over the Grand River per se, but the elevated structure over the bayou lands, as far as I can tell. The actual bridge will look like this . (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

North Cedar Drive overpass. Without the M-231 highway yet. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

The M-231 bypass will be really helpful if the US-31 lift bridge jams open in Grand Haven. Right now this is a 40 mile detour via 68th Avenue in Allendale. The M-231 crossing will cut that in half and provide one more river crossing. It's still a few years away from being finished, after decades of not being funded by the state. This iteration of the project was started twenty years ago when we first moved into our house -- we might've been in the construction zone if they'd chosen the 84th Avenue corridor crossing. (grin)

Anyway, all in all, a good day.

Dr. Phil

March Mads Continue

Ah, a big win by Duke in the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.

Oh, you're talking about the men's tournament? Yeah, #3 Duke lost to #14 Mercer -- in Raleigh NC! For the Tar Heel state fans, if you'd picked NC State vs. Duke in the Championship game on April 7th, your brackets are BUSTED. A good year for a fun tournament. By Friday there'd been six OT games. For the fourth straight year one of the play-in "First Round" teams, a #11, advanced after the Real First Round. Four #12s advanced. In a terrific game Stephen F. Austin defeated Virginia Commonwealth.

In Saturday's shakedown, both of the remaining Michigan teams, MSU and UofM, moved on. Syracuse, which had beaten WMU, is gone. Harvard was taken out by State in a game with a very quiet crowd. Also on Saturday, the start of the Women's tourney -- I saw a terrific set of games interleaved with everything else.

Sunday morning, NPR was saying I am not alone. March Madness, the most successful American sports tournament, is fed from college basketball's regular season. Which ranks way behind football and baseball as America's favorite sport -- typically in the 5-10% range. I tell you, the concentration of games coupled with the one-and-done format makes for compelling stuff -- switching across four channels (CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV) adds to the fun.

The women continue their First Round shortly, while the men finish their Real Second Round. And anything can happen.

Anything except NC State vs. Duke, that is...

Dr. Phil