It even rains in Arizona

It even rains in Arizona

If you’re living in Ireland, you’ve no doubt noticed that this summer hasn’t been great. Actually, I haven’t. I work at home and looking out my little window at the rest of the world is some days the closest I get to the outside world (almost!)

Well anyway, this is to console you if you’re suffering through yet another flood, or a downpour. It even rains in the desert. Of course, it was late January, and the shower was a light one that lasted about 20 minutes but it’s the thought that counts, right?

In other news, I’ve just released Tweet Tweet, a plugin for WordPress that archives Twitter conversations. It’s been a nerve wracking experience as I’m using a few technologies that I haven’t had much call for before.

Aperture ƒ/5.6
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/80s

Biosphere 2 Lung

Biosphere 2 Lung

As Biosphere 2 is a self contained and airtight structure the air inside would expand and contract on warm and cold days which could cause the building to explode or implode!

Two lungs were built to cope with this effect. One of them is pictured above. As the air in the building warmed up the black lung would expand and the roof of this room lowered. When we were there they opened an outside door to ventilate the room and the roof slowly fell. It was quite a sight to see and the draught out the door was enough to make it hard to be heard over the whine.

More on the Biosphere 2 lungs here and here.

Biosphere 2 needed something like a bellows, a lung!
Biosphere 2 would heat up like a greenhouse and cool during the night and during cold, cloudy days. The expansion and contraction would subject the rigid steel and glass structure to enormous pressures as the air inside expanded and contracted. On a hot day, pressure would push out. On a really cold day, Biosphere 2 might implode.

Bill Dempster, Director of Engineering Systems, had an inspired solution, and in time Biosphere 2 got a pair of lungs, or “variable expansion chambers”. The two lungs took the form of graceful hemispheric white domes which protected the liner from wear and tear of the Sun. Both domes, 150 feet away from Biosphere 2 had underground air tunnels connecting them to the main structure. Inside each tank and connected to each tunnel, a gargantuan synthetic rubber membrane with a circular metal top moved freely up and down on a cushion of air.
As air inside Biosphere 2 expanded from the Sun’s heat, it flowed through the tunnels and into the lung, raising its top. As air cooled, the lungs deflated.

Aperture ƒ/3.5
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 1600
Shutter speed 1/25s

Biosphere 2

Biosphere 2 lies in the dusty hot desert in Arizona. It was originally designed as a self contained “world” where scientists stayed for an extended period of time. After going through the tour, there’s no way I’d volunteer to spend my time inside. It must have been very difficult being cooped up in one building. The Wikipedia page on the project has a lot more detail about what went on there.

Anyway, the building is very striking to look at, especially as the day was fine and interesting clouds added to the scene.

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/200s

Rushing through countryside

rushing through countryside

I shot this through the window of our car while driving back to the ranch after Automattic’s trip to Biosphere 2 in Arizona a few months ago. I love how the foreground blurs but the background and the sky remain motionless and static. Love the movement.

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 22mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/100s

Spotty Cactus

spotty cactus

Another cactus shot from Arizona. I’m sure this is as boring as the flower pics everyone else posts for people who live in the desert but it’s all new to me!
Black vignetting caused by a polarizer!

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/200s

Spikey Cactus

spikey cactus

Cacti are probably an everyday sight for people living in desert regions, but I look out the window of my office and all I see are lush green trees, an overcast sky and the threat of another shower of rain. They’re an exotic plant for me to see out growing in the open.

They also make for great black and white subjects as the spikes leave great long shadows against the low January sun. Expect more of these in the next few weeks!

A previous spikey photo is a lot different, and creepier!

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/160s

No. 2400

No. 2400

At Biosphere 2 in Arizona the land around the main building was sold to developers to fund the experiment and for maintenance. Unfortunately all the houses there looked very empty, but maybe that was because it was in January and in the off season.

Aperture ƒ/9
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/250s

The faraway hills of Arizona

The faraway hills of Arizona

When I’d look out on the desert landscape and watch the sun soak away as night fell I was always reminded of Terry Pratchett’s description of sunrise on Discworld where the sunlight slowly filled in all the dark parts of the landscape.

Aperture ƒ/6.3
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 200mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/100s