Author Archives: Rob

Are You A Mink?

I was watching the water in the bay looking for the beaver to come out and feed.  I saw something swimming across the surface and at first thought it was a beaver – if only a small one.  It didn’t look like it was moving like an otter but it also didn’t seem like a beaver.  A while later, I saw some more movement on the water heading for the shore.  It looked a little different but I couldn’t say what it was.  It then climbed out on to the bank and ran along a log.

I grabbed a few shots and thought it looked a bit like an otter but somehow different.  I then lost it again and carried on shooting other subjects.  When I got home, I went through the shots and realized I had been looking at two different creatures.  The first one will get its own post in due course.  The second one had me confused.  I started googling images of stoats, ferrets and so on until I got to mink.  The pictures of the mink look exactly like the animal in my shot.  I think that is what it is.  I have never seen a mink in the wild before so this was a pretty cool find for me.

Stinson Reliant – Don’t Go Too Soon

Sometimes my poor choices can help other people out.  I made a trip down to Auburn to see the Stinson Reliant that the local chapter of the Commemorative Air Force has.  They were having an open day but the conditions were not looking great.  I got there as things were opening up and had a look around the plane while they prepped it to run.  Then they fired it up and ran the engine for a while before shutting down.  At this point, the rain was thinking about starting up and I decided to call it quits.

This was just what everyone else needed.  I got a call as I was heading north again.  My friend Bob told me they were looking to go flying.  I was tempted to turn around and go back but decided not to.  I had some other things I wanted to see and felt the conditions were likely to mean that they skipped the flying.  I was clearly wrong.  My friends got a bunch of nice shots of the plane flying.  I have to make do with it on the ground for now.

A Little Spider Gets Macro Treatment

While getting ready one morning, I saw a little spider in my bathroom.  It was wandering around on the vanity unit and would stop for periods of time without moving.  I figured I might want to give the macro lens a go and went to get the camera.  The introduction of the camera was not ideal for encouraging it not to move but I got a bunch of shots.  Unfortunately, they were at a pretty high ISO.  However, stacking shots can help with the ISO so the result was okay.

A while later, it was back.  This time it had climbed up a cable and this reduced the number of ways it could go.  This time I decided to tool up and got a clamp to hold the camera and set things up to shoot a proper sequence for stacking.  The shutter speeds were low with the clamp which meant ISO could be a lot better.  Here are the results of those experiments.  (Sorry to people I know that don’t like spiders but, really, this thing is tiny!)

Basler BT-67

Making a cross country flight from Wisconsin to Washington is a long enough trip but it is even longer if you are in something that isn’t too speedy.  A DC-3 is not something that is going to cover the ground that fast.  It will be a bit quicker if it has been re-engined with a turboprop but, even then, it is going to be a long trip.  I think it was the best part of eight hours to make the journey and then overnight at Seattle before continuing on to Alaska the next day.

The arrival of the BT-67 certainly got the attention of a few local photographers.  Sadly, things got a bit cloudy just as it arrived so the conditions were not ideal.  It was still cool to get a shot, of course.  Fortunately, they had parked near the Museum of Flight so I was able to get a few shots of them parked up.  The crew were just closing up so the gate to the ramp was open for them and a kind security guard allowed me to shoot past him without having to deal with the fence.

AMG Mercedes Fins and Strakes

I was taking a look at one of the AMG Mercedes cars that was at Exotics@RTC.  This is a road car but it has clearly gone through a lot of aerodynamic development.  The front end of the car is covered in aero treatments with fin and strakes of all sorts.  I have no idea how important this is for driving the car around Seattle but it was really quite something.  I spent a few minutes just looking at them and thinking back to my aero days.

Will I Ever Get a HondaJet In The Sun?

When I find out that a HondaJet is in the area, I do try to get a shot of it.  It is such an unusual design, I am hoping to get a good shot of one.  Sadly, two things seem to be conspiring against me.  First, they all seem to have a variation on the same paint scheme.  No doubt you can paint it how you like but they almost all seem to look similar.  The second thing is that I always seem to get them in cloudy conditions.  This doesn’t stop me trying though.  I have even got one in a better livery but not with good light.  However, these are the recent examples I have seen.  Maybe I will get a shot of one that I am happy with at some point.

Sometimes You Get Lucky With Timing

One evening after work, I decided to head back down to Juanita Bay to see if I could get more shots of the beavers.  I had been pleased with my first encounter and wanted to see whether there was a chance of getting some more shots.  The weather wasn’t so nice but I had nothing on for the evening so decided to hang out for a while.  I was there with nothing happening and the light gradually fading so set myself a target of 7pm.  If nothing happened by then, I would go home.  With about a minute to go before the top of the hour, a guy came out on to the deck I was on.

I figured I wouldn’t leave as he arrived since it would look like he had driven me away.  I would wait to give him time to get bored and leave.  Instead, a couple of minutes after I had planned to leave, out came a beaver.  It swam straight towards me along the shore eventually coming right under where I was standing.  I only had the long lens so it ended up way too close.  I should have used my phone to be honest.  I would never have seen it if it hadn’t been for his arrival.

I had a repeat a couple of days later.  I had seen a pair of beavers swim by – not so close this time – and they had gone around into the inlet and I hadn’t seen them return.  I was beginning to think I was not going to see them again but got a message from Nancy (who was traveling) to say she could chat.  We had a call for a short while when I noticed a tree shaking not far from me.  I told her I would call her back.  One of the beavers had come across the land and was chomping on the tree.  A little while passed and then it came down to the water, dropped in to the lake and swam right past me.  I was ready for it to be so close this time.  Another lucky break that I would have missed if it hadn’t been for the call.

My One Chance With The Bones

Red Flag 22-2 included a detachment of B-1B Lancers.  The Bone is a cracking jet as it combines the size of a bomber with the shaping and engines of a fighter.  It is an elegant shape whether the wings are fully swept or not.  I have shot them at Nellis a few times over the years but I was still keen to get some shots of them on this trip.  Unfortunately, things did not quite go to plan.

They didn’t fly on the day that I arrived.  I had gone out in the evening for the night launch but they were not part of it.  The following morning, they launched a lot earlier than I expected so I was still at Cheyenne when they went.  My last day, they again didn’t launch.  That meant the recoveries from the early launch were my only chance.

Weather was not helping too much.  This was not just for the Bones.  It was pretty overcast for a good chunk of the afternoon.  The two jets came back in formation and broke into the pattern.  Thankfully, the arrivals were using the 21s and they were allocated to the right runway.  A pretty sporty pattern for a big jet combined with me having chosen a good spot by the Speedway meant that they were almost filling the frame as they turned on to final.  Some nicer light would have been great but, since this was all I was getting in daylight, it would have to do.

Comparison of Cloud Formation and Development

I may be stuck in the house during work hours but the view out of the window doesn’t have to be totally ignored.  We have had a bunch of changeable weather recently and I have been shooting time lapses of the clouds.  The M6 works well for this but I have been using my fisheye lens on the M adaptor to get a wide view of what is going on out there.  It has proved to be interesting as a review the footage later.  Some of the skies have lots of activity while others don’t.

Sometimes we get the winds pulling the clouds across the sky but the overcast is thick and the lack of heat on the ground means that the clouds are pretty stable.  On other days we get almost constant development and dissipation of the clouds.  We are on a hill so we can get quite localized development around us.  Sometimes you have lower level clouds going one way and higher level clouds heading somewhere else.

I put together a video that includes a variety of clips from these time lapses to show how different things can be on different days (or even at different times of the same day!).

Flying With Flair

Canada has had a surge in low cost airlines.  One of them is Flair.  They too delivery of a few new jets but I never happened to be around when any of them was on test so, I never got a shot of their pretty bright colors.  Another delivery was due recently and I happened to be at BFI when the jet was being ferried in from another location – presumably where it had been painted.  Not the greatest light I’m afraid but still enough to be worthwhile and the colors are a bit more interesting that the usual.  I’ve no idea how their operations are going but, with so many new players in the market, they will have their work cut out for them.