Blower Bentley

B11I8568.jpgCars and Coffee at Blackhawk Automotive Museum gets all sorts of interesting cars.  One that was particularly interesting on a recent visit was a Blower Bentley.  This is a great combination of huge power with minimal controllability.  Stick a huge engine into a car in a time when suspension design and steering were in their infancy and you don’t have the opportunity to kill people at all!  This example is beautifully looked after and seems to have a very original appearance.  I am not an expert but I know people who are and they weren’t critical of this car so I assume it is an unusual and well maintained example.

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Palmdale Day Out

C59F9459.jpgA few years ago, I was in the LA area with my mate Paul.  We decided to try our luck with a visit to Palmdale.  Home of Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale has a history of interesting aircraft.  The Blackbirds were assembled here as were the Space Shuttles.  The B-2 bombers were also assembled on site.  It is home to some NASA aircraft and continues to support a variety of types.  Consequently, you can see some really interesting stuff.  Alternatively, you can have a day with nothing going on.  It is the luck of the draw.

C59F9444.jpgWe decided to try it out anyway and see what we could get.  One of the NASA ER-2s had been active so there was hope that it might be up and about.  One thing we hadn’t anticipated was that the weather was not going to be great.  We had figured it was likely to be clear but actually there was a fair amount of cloud cover all day.  Not ideal but it did keep the temperature down.

QB5Y2449.jpgWe did have success with the ER-2.  Unfortunately, we did not choose well for our locations.  It took off and landed on the runway that we were not close too.  Consequently, we got some shots but they were a bit distant.  We discussed a rapid change of location but, fearing we would get nothing by being in the car at the wrong time, stuck with it.

QB5Y2489.jpgOur location was not a total bust though.  We did get a sister ship.  A USAF U-2S came in and we got some shots of that.  It was not alone.  A B-2 also made some approaches.  We figured it was coming from Edwards and heading back there again.  Sadly, shooting black aircraft against a cloudy sky is a bit tricky.  Still, we might have done worse.  After a while, the local movements of Northrop Grumman shuttles had been enough so we decided to get on the road back to LA.

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Osprey Checks Us Out

AE7I1339.jpgOne fun aspect of shooting by San Francisco Bay is that you get a lot of wildlife while you are killing time.  Roger and I were sitting by the shore waiting for a few movements when a bird started flying in our direction.  We both paid attention when we realized that it was not a gull as is normally the case.  Instead, it was an osprey.  They are not a rarity but they are still noteworthy.  It certainly wasn’t bothered by us as it flew right over us as it headed along the shoreline.  Looking up you could stare straight into its eyes as it surveyed the scene looking for its next snack.  Sadly, nothing was nearby for it to dive onto and it flew off.  Even so, a brief moment like this with such a cool bird made me happy for a long time afterwards.  Actually, I am still happy when I think about it.

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Wow (and I Mean That Literally)

AE7I1195.jpgYes, no exaggeration in this case.  It really is Wow!  Of course, Wow is an airline, not something so unusual.  They are a low cost airline operating out of Iceland and they have started direct flights to San Francisco.  I hadn’t managed to see them since they started service.  They come in on certain days and later in the afternoon but had not been helped by air traffic delays in Iceland which had meant the flights were arriving late on a regular basis.  I did finally get to see one of their A330s come in – late but not as late as had sometimes been the case.

AE7I1233.jpgThe light at this time of year is not so easy.  At the end of the day, the sun angle actually moves sufficiently far around to be on the nose and then even slightly backlit.  The late arrival exacerbates the issue but the sun was still slightly on the right side when they came in.  It does result in quite some contrast between the nose and the fuselage sides which, with a dark color like they have, makes for a more difficult exposure.  I want to visit Iceland at some point so having a direct flight is definitely something to consider for me.

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Latest from Cars and Coffee

B11I8565.jpgI have had a few visits to Cars and Coffee over the last few months.  Plenty of cool vehicles to check out and justify getting up early on a Sunday morning.  This time I figure I will just share a bunch of pictures of what has been there.  Of course, these are but a small fraction of the total number of cars appearing but they caught my eye.

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Arizona’s F-16s

B11I6356.jpgThe home team at Tucson International are the Arizona ANG F-16s.  The Iraqi and Dutch jets may be of interest but the local jets are still worthy of attention.  I didn’t get as much time to shoot them as I would have liked but there were still a few chances to catch some of them departing and recovering so here are a few from those times.

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Cormorant Takeoff Run

AE7I1891.jpgMy like for the cormorant is no secret if you read this blog.  I think they are a cool bird with a prehistoric look to them.  One thing I enjoy when seeing them is watching the way they take off from the water’s surface.  They run across the water getting some speed up as they flap.  I have wanted to get good shots of this for ages but they usually do it a fair distance from the shore.  When they onshore, they launch from whatever they are on.  Fortunately, when out whale watching, we got a cormorant that was very close to the boat before it decided to take off.  I happened to be looking the right way at the time and got something close to what I had been after.  It was backlit but still close.  I’ll still be hoping for something better but this was a good result for me.

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Trying to do Something Different with a Southwest 737

AE7I9870.jpgIf you want to go with a rather easily achieved photo, a shot of a Southwest 737 would seem to be about as common as they get in the US.  I was staying in a hotel near Midway recently and, after dinner, I decided to see if I could get something a little different to my normal shots of a plane I spend a lot of time sitting inside!  I wasn’t hampered by some rather helpful weather conditions.

AE7I9950.jpgI was close to the approach path so I wandered off to find what line worked best.  My best results came from two spots.  One was directly on the flightpath.  The other was slightly offset to one side.  At this location, the planes are just short of the field so are pretty low.  I include a couple of shots that show the rooflines of some of the houses to give you an idea of the surroundings.  The shots from under the nose are interesting but there is only so much you get from that angle.  I was pleased with a few of the, but I did not spend a lot of time in this spot.

AE7I9526.jpgBeing offset provided a more interesting angle.  I only had one lens with me so I was a little limited in what I could try by having a longer focal length.  Being full frame does now give me a bit more width at the short end of the zoom though.  Therefore, I could get some shots from almost underneath that provide a slightly more dynamic angle.

AE7I9890.jpgSince it was evening, the light was getting better and better.  What certainly helped was that there was a hint of storm activity in the distance and some clouds were bubbling up.  They made for a far more interesting backdrop than the empty sky.  Overall, this was a pretty satisfying evening.  I did get some other arrivals that while I was there and I will possibly give them their own post at some time.

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Early Morning at Chicago Botanic Gardens

AE7I8888.jpgThe Chicago Botanic Gardens open at 7am.  This is something I was totally unaware of when we lived in Chicago.  During our recent visit, we were staying a short distance away and had some free time in the morning.  We decided to go early, have a wander around, get some breakfast there and then go back to the hotel to be ready for the day.  We might not have been there spot on 7am but we weren’t much later.

AE7I8871.jpgEarly morning is a great time to look around.  It was a hot weekend that weekend so we were able to enjoy the gardens before they got too hot.  We were also able to enjoy them pretty much alone for a lot of the time.  The crowds have not shown up yet and the place is occupied by the regulars.  In some of the more central parts of the gardens, the groundskeepers are still busy at work sorting things out before the majority of visitors appear.

AE7I8816.jpgWe wandered around a good portion of the grounds.  Heading towards midsummer, even that early in the day is long after the sun comes up so it isn’t the perfect light.  It is a lot better than later in the day though so worth taking the camera.  With so few people, the chance to get unobstructed shots is worth it in itself.  Having not been for a while, the chance to walk the grounds again was a treat as well.

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Tucson Corporate Activity

AE7I4695.jpgI don’t know whether the timing was favorable or whether there is just a lot of traffic but I saw quite a few corporate jets on the move at Tucson during my short time shooting there.  Corporate stuff is always a nice break from the regular airline traffic although it can be harder to shoot.  The jets are usually smaller and the bigger ones are often performing well within their capabilities so get airborne really quickly and are way too high by the time they get to you.

B11I5681.jpgEven so, we did okay.  A couple of Hawkers were heading out and I was particularly pleased to get a Global Express.  It did look a touch anonymous but maybe I can pretend that means there is an interesting story behind it.

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