Otter Crew

While walking along the harbor in Victoria, I happened to be looking over the edge when three otters came out from under where we were and dropped into the water. I was quite surprised by this and we watched them swim out a way into the water before the dived. It wasn’t long before they popped back up with their catches in their mouths. They then climbed up onto the jetty for one of the ferries to enjoy their crab lunch and to play around as otters are prone to do!

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Bill’s G650

Another stint in the lots by Boeing Field to deal with some phone calls prior to heading back out of Seattle after some meetings and some more interesting movements.  A G650 landed while I was there.  I was on a call so I didn’t have an opportunity to get a shot of it as it landed and rolled out which was a shame.  It parked up across from me and an SUV took the occupants away.  Then it was pushed into a hangar.  A quick search on the registration gives a company name and Googling that shows it is associated with Bill Gates.  Looks like he has a nice jet although I think he needs a new Global 7500 if he wants to stay on top of things.

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Learning a Better Way to Blend in Photoshop

I occasionally use the Statistics function in Photoshop to blend multiple images in order to get rid of the distractions that I don’t want like people or vehicles.  Up until now, this has been a real pain to do.  I would identify the images in Lightroom but would have to open Photoshop, go into the Statistics function, use the browse function in there to select the images and then it would run everything in one go.  This was not a convenient way to go and the output image then needed to be manually added to Lightroom which is not handy.

It turns out that there is a better way.  This may have been in Photoshop all along and I never knew or it could have been a recent addition.  Either way, it is there and I shall now use it for future projects.  I have even created a Photoshop action to cover the process and assigned a function key so it will now do the heavy lifting without my intervention.  It all starts out in Lightroom.  Select all the images that will be used for the blend.  Then use Edit>Open As Layers and a new document will open in Photoshop with all shots as layers.

If everything has been shot on a tripod, things will be properly aligned by default but I often do these things on the spur of the moment so they are hand held.  Consequently, while my efforts to keep pointing in the same direction are not bad, the first task is to select all layers and Auto Align layers to tidy things up.  Next, go into the Layer tab and, under Smart Object, convert to a Smart Object.  This may take a little while.

Next step is to go back into Layers>Smart Objects>Stack Mode.  This brings up the same options as you get through the Statistics function.  Select Mean and send it on its way and you end up with a shot that, depending on the number of shots taken and the clear space in enough of them, results in a clear shot.  Usually I find that I haven’t got enough shots of the right type to get everything to disappear so some ghostly elements may remain but they are certainly less distracting than the figures in the original shots.  I have no idea what the other modes will achieve and the descriptions Adobe provides in their help files are so obscure as to be virtually useless. Instead I shall have to experiment with them to see what happens.  Thankfully, now I have this new method, I can undo the last step easily to try each option which would not have been possible using the Statistics dialog.  Another win!

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My Rainier Arrivals

I was picking up someone from SeaTac just before Christmas.  The flight was due in just before sunset so I took the camera along just in case.  I was out by the outer runway approach path but the heavies were coming in to the inner runway.  This meant they passed nicely in front of Mt Rainer – assuming you can ignore the 60 odd miles distance to the mountain.  First in was a Condor 767 which still had plenty of evening light on it as it landed.

Next up was a British Airways 777.  It arrived as the light was fading fast.  It still had a bit of illumination but you knew anything following it would be in the gloom.  Being winter, there was virtually no distortion in the atmosphere, which, given the distance was a potential problem.  Things looked pretty sharp in the final images.

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Woodinville Lineman

If you take a garbage truck and attach it to a power pole that you aren’t supposed to attach it to, you are likely to cause some trouble.  We had a blackout as a result of such an event.  The pole ended up punching a hole in the roof of a nearby house (thankfully it wasn’t raining) and power to our area was cut off. I got home as the light was fading and got a few shots of the damage.  The power lines are strong and they had succeeded in taking down two lamp posts as well.

I popped back out to see how things were progressing and to watch the teams at work fixing the situation.  Making the initial pole safe took a lot of time as bits of it were removed.  A new pole was put in place and the old pole lifted back up and attached to the new one.  I assume this was a temporary fix.  Focus then shifted to the next pole which was leaning at an angle that suggested it had taken a bit of the load too.  This one just got straightened up and didn’t need to be replaced.  I gave up watching after a while since I preferred to be indoors in the warm.  Power came back on at 9pm so we were able to sort out the things that had been cut off before turning in for the night.

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Terminal View from the Shuttle

I was in San Francisco for a work visit a little while back.  I was picking up a rental car so took the shuttle that runs around the terminal areas and then out to the rental car facility.  This trip gives you a view of the apron areas by each terminal.  As you drop away from the central terminal area, you get a good view back across the ramp area predominantly used by United but also other Star Alliance carriers.  I grabbed some shots from the shuttle to give an overview of this area that is otherwise obscured from view.

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Chihuly Museum

For the longest time I wasn’t interested in visiting the Chihuly Museum in Seattle. I had seen some glass installations outdoors and the rather bright and garish look of them put me off the idea of seeing the collection. It just didn’t look like my thing. Then, when we had visitors that were interested in going, a trip was inevitable. I have to admit, I was very wrong. What I had seen a glimpse off was in no way representative of the collection as a whole and I was most impressed by what I saw.

First, there was a lot of variety in the art. Some of it was more to my taste than others which is only to be expected. However, all of it was interesting. The layout of the exhibits gave you plenty of space to enjoy them and, while the place was popular, I rarely felt overcrowded. Much of the work was much more subtle than I had anticipated and the forms and coloring were most impressive. Other parts were a bit more dramatic but still very cool.

While much of the work was indoors, there was a selection outside and these were nicely integrated into the gardens. The blend of the colors and the reflections of the surrounding structures in the surfaces were interesting for some while others were just interesting shapes. The potential of lighting them is something that was apparent but closing time was around sundown, so we only got a hint of the illumination. We shall return in winter to see how the lighting looks.

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Farewell to Hawaiian’s 767s

Hawaiian Airlines had a reasonably large fleet of 767s for its long haul services.  They introduced A330s to expand the fleet and more recently have added A321neos to serve destinations on the west coast of the US.  The arrival of these planes has meant the 767s are no longer needed.  Consequently the fleet has been run down and the final flights have taken place.  It won’t be an Airbus only fleet for the longer flights for long though.  787-9s are on order so Boeing will return to the long haul fleet before too long.

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Legislative Chamber

The legislature was out of session while we were in Victoria and access to the galleries over the chamber was closed. However, the door to the chamber was open so you could see the space in which the legislature meets. The speaker’s chair at the front was pretty grand. There were photos of all of the legislatures which made the room look huge but it was not that large. Clearly they had used a wide lens to get everyone in and it made the ones at the back seem miles away.

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Under the Ruslan

I have shot a lot of Antonov 124s at Everett since they are there on a regular basis.  One weekend recently, a Volga-Dnepr flight was scheduled in to SeaTac.  Shooting at SeaTac is a bit restricted in what you can achieve given the layout of the airport so I decided I would go for something a little different.  The heavy traffic usually comes in on the inside runway and there is a small park that puts you pretty much under the approach.  I thought this might be a slightly different position to shoot from.

The timing of the arrival was supposed to be later in the afternoon.  However, something about the routing meant the jet ended up getting in a bit later than I had expected.  Some lovely afternoon light had disappeared and had been replaced by a dull light which was also fading fast.  I was ramping up the ISO settings pretty quickly as the jet turned on the approach as it was disappearing by the minute.  Finally, the Ruslan appeared in view and I got some head on shots prior to shifting to a wider lens as the plane flew overhead.

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