Night Waves

After dinner one night in Yachats, I decided to go out and see what I could make of the waves crashing on the shore at night.  A number of lights were trained on the shoreline from the local properties so it wasn’t too dark out there.  Even so, it certainly wasn’t very light.  Time to test the low light capabilities of the cameras.  The fact I was going to get slow shutter speeds didn’t bother me particularly as I was interested to see the effects that I could get showing the motion of the waves.

Light levels were indeed better than I had anticipated and I was able to get a lot of shots that came out okay.  There was a good element of luck involved too.  Waves are horribly unpredictable.  If you see something good, you can almost guarantee it won’t do it again and, even if it does, it will be ages before the next set of waves comes in and, even then, the big wave will break differently.  Also, some of the shapes they make turn out to look good in the shot and others are just indistinct messes.  Nothing to do but hang around for a long time and try and lot of different shots and see which ones work.  This randomness is a little frustrating as you feel you should be able to do something to improve but, in this case, it is a case of being there.

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Trailing Static Cones

For the people that don’t care for my aviation posts, this one won’t be of interest.  For the aviation fans that don’t care about the techie stuff, this will also be of limited interest.  That probably leaves a very small group of readers by now (Gary, I am trusting you are still here).  This is about a piece of flight test instrumentation that often causes questions when people see it.  It is the trailing static cone.

The aircraft has sensors that measure air data, two of the most important of which are the pitot probe and the static port.  The pitot probe measures the dynamic pressure of the air which increases as the speed increases.  The static port measures the air around the aircraft.  The difference between the two is used to determine the speed of the aircraft and the static is used to determine the altitude.  These are both vital information for a pilot.  However, the aircraft affects the flow of the air around it so, while you can calculate what the pressures should be, you need to validate what the actual readings are.  The first flights are carried out prior to calibrating the system so you need to have a bit of margin in the speeds you use until you have confidence in the readings.

Measuring static pressure is hard to do.  The plane will have a static port on the skin of the plane as well as possibly incorporated with the pitot head.  However, the air has accelerated to go around the fuselage so it is assumed to have a lower pressure than ambient.  Because the plane is disturbing the flow, you need a way to measure the pressure some distance away from the plane.  The answer is a trailing static cone.

This cone incorporates pressure measurement sensors and it attached to a long cable.  This is held on a reel inside the aircraft and fed out of the aircraft at the rear.  For airliners, this is usually through a modification to the top of the fin.  A comparison between the test aircraft and a production jet will show the different structure.  The cable dangles out of the fin and, as the speed increases, the cone pulls the cable taught and streams backwards.

When the testing is required, the cable is winched out and the cone is a long way behind the aircraft in what is relatively undisturbed airflow.  If you go to the Museum of Flight, the prototype 747 is on display and it includes the trailing cone equipment in the fuselage.  The reel is shown in its mounting location and the trailing cone is hung inside to allow you to take a look at it.

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Electric Vehicles

America’s Car Museum in Tacoma is a tribute to automobiles of all sorts.  While the internal combustion engine is dominant throughout the museum, they do have a section that is focused on electric vehicles.  This includes the sort of car you might expect to see and some that are a touch more exotic.  The research/competition cars are strange looking things.  Aerodynamics dominate in vehicles that are clearly aimed at maximizing efficiency while not worrying about things like handling or utility.  Having a whole roof section of solar panels is impressive.

Not all of the vehicles are that extreme though.  Others are the sort of thing you are used to seeing on the road.  Some of the original electric road cars (including those from the Victorian era) are there and also some concept demonstration vehicles that are likely to lead to something in production before too long.  These already look just like any other car on the road today.

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Two Avantis in One Go!

Not long ago, I posted about seeing an Avanti for the first time in a while.  The lack of Avantis having been broken, I have seen a couple more.  I saw that one had come in to Boeing Field and I was there before it fired up for its next flight.  It taxied out on the opposite side of the field and then took off to the northeast.

A short while later, I saw a silhouette of a plane on approach and looked closer to see what it was.  It looked pretty like an Avanti so I figured it was the same aircraft returning for some reason.  I was a bit bothered that something might be wrong but happy to get another chance to shoot it.  As it got closer thought, it was clearly not in the same paint scheme.  Instead, it turned out to be a Canadian registered example and a pretty nice looking one at that.

Getting two Avantis within a short space of time was an outcome I was pretty pleased with.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t hang around to get the departure of the second example.

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Sounder’s New Cab Cars

New locomotives are not the only new vehicles to have shown up in Seattle.  Sound Transit runs the Sounder commuter rail service in the area and they have been taking delivery of new cab cars.  These are built by Bombardier, as were the previous cab cars.  However, this is a new design that incorporates crash energy management technology.  As a result, they have done away with the passenger gangway on the front of the vehicle and provided a full width cab for the engineer.  It provides a slightly more elegant front end to the vehicle than the previous design.

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Korean Air Dreamliner on Test

I had a couple of encounters with the same jet while it was on test.  (It’s brake dust already showed up in this post.)  This 787-9 is, by now, part of the Korean Air fleet.  I saw it depart from Paine Field one evening in pleasant light.  The low sun angle really brought out the shape of the underside of the wing in a way that normally you just don’t get to appreciate.  It showed up a second time while I was out to get the farewell flight of the Delta 747 which I wrote about here.  It came in at a similar time and the wet weather helped to make the pale blue color scheme pop a bit more.

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My Copy of Lightroom Got Sick

After a previous update to Lightroom (6.12), it became almost unusable.  Importing would take forever and, once the images were in, it would grind to a halt.  Keywording and editing became a nightmare.  I was struggling to work out what was wrong.  A check on performance showed the processor wasn’t busy but the RAM was maxed out.  I couldn’t understand why.  The first thing I do when Lightroom behaves strangely is to delete the Preferences file.  This file can get corrupted and mess with the performance badly.  Just delete it and restart and things are often fixed.  That didn’t work in this case.  When the new version of Lightroom was released, I hoped this would fix everything but sadly not.  (Meanwhile Photoshop itself is working just fine on this system.)

I had a long session with the Adobe tech support people which got me nowhere.  After telling me this was normal, they realized it was not when our screen sharing crapped out as a result of the machine slowing to a virtual standstill.  They tried a bunch of simple stuff and got no further than I had on my own.  They suggested a second session would be needed and then promptly sent me an email telling me that the issue had been successfully resolved.  Not sure how they concluded that.  Meanwhile, I wondered whether there was an issue with my Windows installation so decided to do a completely clean install.  This had some slight benefits but basically the problem still remained.

I have done a bunch of scanning of similar issues and I found out a technique the support team can use to tweak performance.  There is a config.lua file that can be created in the presets folder to influence the system.  I have added this file and it has certainly made a few things work better.  It has also slowed some things down as well which isn’t ideal.  This was not a solution though.  All it did was make the program slightly more usable.

Another session with Adobe ensued.  This time we got into the permissions for some of the folders that contained the catalogs.  Lots of time to reset these to give greater authority.  I was told this is sometimes an issue with large catalog files.  Lots of time later, I found that nothing had really changed.  The whole thing would still get bogged down very quickly.

Then I read about Lightroom 7.2.  This was a new update that was supposed to address a lot of performance issues.  It was supposed to make better use of multi-core processors as well as larger RAM configs.  I had seen a sequence of updates not improve things – my issues were clearly not the normal performance problems although I had previously experienced some of them too – but I was hoping that, if they had changed the architecture of the software, maybe whatever was causing my machine to have problems might have been tweaked/replaced.  If not, I was seriously considering the need to buy a new system since this was so horribly inefficient.

I waited for the release date to come around when I knew the update was on its way.  Then I got an update to the iPad version and it said the new version of Camera Raw was included.  This must mean it was close.  A day later, the update dropped.  I downloaded it immediately and opened up.  Hurrah!!!  Everything run fast, the RAM levels were moderate and stable, everything was happening as it should.  My system lives!  Let’s hope this isn’t a false dawn.

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One More Chance With Virgin’s A340s

Substitutions on the Seattle route are not just limited to Lufthansa.  Virgin Atlantic has been flying the route with the 787-9 but, as with a lot of the Rolls Dreamliner operators, Virgin has been suffering from engine shortages while the blade cracking problems are dealt with.  They have brought the A340-600 on to the route in the interim.  I thought I wouldn’t be seeing these again after the last examples at SFO I saw but I got another chance.  Not great light but it was good to see one more time.

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F1 Engines (New and Used)

I was too young to see a Saturn V launch.  My one and only space launch has been a shuttle flight and that was very impressive.  I can only imagine how cool the Saturn V was to witness.  Maybe when the new generation of heavy launchers comes into service I will get to see something similar.  The power for the first stage was provided by the F1 engines, five of which were clustered together.  We made a trip to the Kennedy Space Center a long time ago and a Saturn V is on display there lying on its side.  You can get face to face with the engine nozzles.

More recently, we checked out the Apollo exhibit at the Museum of Flight, here in Seattle.  They have a display of an F1 engine but this one is not looking so pristine.  This is because it is a used engine.  Not just used as in test firing used but used as in flew on a mission, free fell to the ocean, hit the sea at speed, sank to the bottom of the Atlantic and stayed there for decades.  Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, funded a project to recover the engines from Apollo 12.

The nozzle is gone which is no surprise given how thin it is as you can see in the pictures of the undamaged version.  However, the combustion chamber and the turbopump seem to have come through the experience in remarkable shape.  The injector plate is also on display and has been pulled out of the assembly to show it off more clearly.  The F1 was quite a feat of engineering – 1.5 million lbs of thrust and the pinnacle of 60s technology.

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Two More 737s Heading to Renton

At various times I have seen the fuselages for new Boeing 737s heading by on the trains through Seattle.  Usually I am a distance away from them and I get a shot that is a bit hazy and less than distinct.  Recently I was working in a yard alongside the main tracks as some equipment was being loaded.  I had my camera to hand to record the loading process as a train came by behind us.  Initially I figured it was just another freight train so didn’t pay attention.  Then, I caught the color of the fuselages out of the corner of my eye and realized a couple of new jets were onboard.  Before it got too much further, I was able to grab a couple of shots.


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