A Digital Journal

Photography by Tony Triolo

Green Mountain Autumn

Here are a few images from a recent outing to the Madison County Nature Trail in Huntsville, Alabama. The preserve is located atop Green Mountain. The 72-acre park is a popular place for visitors from throughout the state and beyond. A 1.5 mile trail surrounds Sky Lake and is very popular with nature loves and anyone just needing a bit of get-out-of-the-house time during this pandemic we find ourselves in. The most popular structure on the trail is the Cambron Bridge, a beautiful covered bridge and very often photographed. There is also a pavilion, a rustic chapel, amphitheater and picnic area on the site. Admittance is free, but donations are encouraged.

I have photographed the park many times and each time it offers something different. It is most spectacular in the fall but each season has its own unique look. The drive up to the top of Green Mountain is a beautiful drive in itself, but it can be challenging in winter, as it does ice up in places, so take it slow if you plan a visit.

Fishing dock and the Cambron Covered Bridge
Possibly a native pointing tree
A peaceful afternoon on Sky Lake
Abstract autumn
Fishing at the Cambron Covered Bridge

November 28, 2020 Posted by | Photography | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer’s Waning Colors

I realize that I haven’t posted anything in quite some time, so here’s a quick collage of photos I shot out at the Botanical Garden in Huntsville, Alabama the other day. I always look forward to the fall colors, but autumn seems slow to arrive this year. Maybe, I’d see what summer’s palette still had to offer. She did not disappoint. The transition of seasons provides it own unique opportunities, when the bright colors of summer give way to the more muted tones of fall.

 

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October 20, 2017 Posted by | Alabama, Huntsville, Madison, Madison County, Nature, Photography | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alabama Autumn

    Alabama does not immediately come to mind to most people when thinking of fall foliage, but this state can produce some amazing color when the conditions are right.  This autumn is shaping up as one of the better ones for vibrant displays of color in this state, more often considered for its caliber of college football and fine bass fishing.  Now admittedly, Alabama is no match for  the super-saturated fall colors found in places like New England or Colorado, but it’s not too shabby either.  Today, I had an opportunity to make a quick drive up to Monte Sano Mountain in Huntsville, to see just how well this season’s “color” was shaping up.  I was not disappointed.  Here are a few samples of what I found at the Monte Sano State Park and at the Burritt Museum.

Japanese Maple and Bamboo

Japanese Maple and Bamboo

Burning Bush

Burning Bush

Grape Vine

Grapevine

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Alabama, Madison County, Nature, Photography | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mishaps and Moonbuggies

I recently had an opportunity to do a bit of photography for my former employer – NASA.  Actually, I was never a direct NASA hire, but I did work for several contractors who were.  With budget cutbacks and Sequestration affecting the space agency, as with other government entities, they sometimes find themselves understaffed for certain high-profile events.  That’s when they call me to see if I’m available to help fill in.  Last week, I helped cover the Student Launch Projects, better know simply as SLP.  College and high school  student teams from across the country gather at a remote farm in North Alabama to launch rockets they have built.  The ones that go the highest win prizes.  It brings to mind the exploits of the “Rocket Boys” captured in the film “October Skies”.  The book’s author, Homer Hickam, who lives in Huntsville, officially kicked off that event.

The NASA event I helped out on this past weekend is called the “Great Moonbuggy Race.”  I’ve helped photograph it several times before.  As with SLP, students from both high schools as well as colleges compete, but this event has a much more international flavor with teams coming from all over the globe.  This year there were teams from as far away as Russia, India, Germany and Puerto Rico.  The Puerto Ricans sent several teams in both the high school and college categories.  They ended up winning first place in the college competition by coming in with the fastest combined time.

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The New Britain (CT) High School entry clears one of the final obstacles before the finish line.

Participants are required to construct a vehicle based on the design of the original moonbuggy, the one that traversed the surface of the moon during several of the U.S. lunar landings.  The vehicle must conform to certain size limitations and must be only human-powered.  It must carry two crew members (from a group of six) over a half mile course out at the Alabama Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.  Points are awarded for speed in assembly, safety considerations and the time it takes to make two separate course runs over the two-day competition.

Moonbuggies prepare for the start of the race under the shadow of a Shuttle mockup.

Moonbuggies prepare for the start of the race under the shadow of a Shuttle mockup at the Alabama Space & Rocket Center.

The course that the buggies must follow includes a number of hazards and obstacles including a portion that simulates the surface of the moon itself.  The vehicles must be constructed strong enough to withstand the punishment of the moguls, sandpits and craters, but light enough for two people to be able to carry it to the start line and pedal it over the undulating terrain.  Some teams do it with relative ease, while others experience bent wheels, broken bicycle chains and worse, as they try to make it completely around the track.

The Chandigarh Group of Colleges entry at the start line.

India’s Chandigarh Group of Colleges entry at the start line.

Team Russia representing the International Space Education Inst. easily negotiates the course finishing second in the college category.

These vehicles are considered test vehicles, not production models and as such are allowed to make modifications just before and between races.  Make-shift garages are set up in the adjacent parking lot of the space center.  Sparks fly as teams makes constant adjustments and fine-tune their buggies.  Unfortunately, even the seemingly best built vehicles can’t stand up to the punishment that the course inflicts.  Many teams’ buggies are rendered undriveable even after the very first obstacle.  If the drive-chain breaks and is unrepairable on-the-fly, participants must resort to dismounting and pushing their buggy the rest of the way, a physical challenge to say the least.

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Team 1 from Pittsburgh State University find themselves stuck at the first obstacle.

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A bent wheel spells bad news for Toronto’s Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute team.

The East Central H.S. team try a novel approach with small balloon tires.

The East Central H.S. team from Hurley, Mississippi try a novel approach with small balloon tires.

The year’s winners:

High School 3rd Place: Jupiter High School Team 2, Jupiter, Fla.

High School 2nd Place: Jupiter High School Team 1, Jupiter, Fla.
High School 1st Place: Teodoro Aguilar Mora High School Team 1, Puerto Rico

College 3rd Place: Middle Tennessee State University Team 1, Murfreesboro, TN 
College 2nd Place: The International Space Education Institute, “Team Russia,” Leipzig, Germany 
College 1st Place:  University of Puerto Rico-Humacao, Humacao, Puerto Rico

April 28, 2013 Posted by | Alabama, Engineering, Europe, Huntsville, Photography | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rails and Tales

Lately, it seems that it’s been more and more difficult to find time to grab a camera and just steal a few hours away from the daily routine of life.  Today, however, I did manage to do just that.  I also wanted to test out the new Leica M9 rangefinder I just acquired.  I found myself out at the site of the old Chase Nursery in northeast Huntsville, not far from the Alabama A&M campus.  Today, the area is better known as the location for the North Alabama Railroad Museum.  During the winter months, it is only open two days a week (Wednesday and Saturday), but it’s always accessible if you are just wanting to look around, study, and photograph old trains.  That’s what I did.  I have been to the museum many times before and the last time was to accompany my grandchildren on the Santa Train, which the museum staff runs at Christmastime.  In fact, the Mercury and Chase Railroad offers many excursions throughout the year, traveling over a section of the historic Huntsville Branch of the Nashville, Chattanooga, and St. Louis Railway.

Here are a few of the images I came away with from today’s visit.

The centerpiece of the museum features the Chase Depot, the smallest union depot in the country since it served more than one railroad when in service. It is the bright green building in the photo above.  Over thirty pieces of major rolling stock have been preserved including both freight and passenger equipment and three historic locomotives. Plans for future development are being made and when completed the museum is sure to be a facility that is both unique and attractive while maintaining a character all its own.  Best of all, photographers are welcome and photography is encouraged.  Just be respectful of the locomotives, cars and equipment, and be careful.  A misstep can send you and your equipment to the pavement quickly.

Come by my gallery at the Lowe Mill in Huntsville and see these prints as well as many others.

North Alabama Railroad Museum, Inc.
694 Chase Road
Huntsville, Alabama

February 17, 2012 Posted by | Alabama, Historic Alabama, Huntsville, Madison County, Photography, Transportation, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment