Author Archives: Rob

New Hummer Feeder Improves the Light

We have been having some issues with our hummingbirds.  One of them has decided the feeder is his and no other birds can use it.  He sits around and feeds to his heart’s content.  Even when he is in a local tree, anyone coming close gets chased off quickly.  We have named him “Cartman”.  One of the recommendations in such a situation is to have a second feeder so we have added one to the fence nearby.  One of the benefits I have found with this is that it puts the birds at a different angle between me and the light and it brings out the colors more vibrantly.  Here you can see Cartman – he is still trying to dominate the place.

The Light Almost Catches the T-33

I caught one of the Boeing T-33 chase aircraft that had been out supporting the 777X flight trials.  The weather had been crappy which is par for the course when I am seeing the Boeing chase planes.  However, it did start to improve.  A hint of sun came out as it came down the approach but the light was better a bit far out.  I could see it in the distance but it was more shady as it got close.  Still, not too bad.  I heard a rumor that they might be retiring them before too long.  I hope that isn’t the case but we shall see.

More Moss Than Tree

In the parts of Washington where there is heavy tree cover and plenty of rain, you can get some serious growth of moss on the branches of the trees.  Go to the rainforest out on the Olympic peninsula and there are plenty of examples of this but even in the hills around Snoqualmie, you can see such trees.  The softer light during the winter helps show up the moss well with it almost appearing to glow in the shaded areas.

I saw one tree across the river from us and in direct light and it really stood out from the surrounding trees so I figured a shot had to be taken.  On our side of the river there was plenty of moss too so here you have a single tree and then some close ups of other trees to show just how the moss dominates the trees.  Of course, it isn’t very dense so doesn’t overwhelm the tree but it really makes the structure seem much beefier!

Why Not Shoot an M-21 While I’m Here

I was at the Museum of Flight for the IPMS exhibit but, while I was visiting, I figured it would be churlish not to take a picture of the M-21 that dominates the main hall.  It is actually a bit difficult to photograph and there is a lot of contrast with the background and it is always busy so a bit cluttered.  I knew it wasn’t going to be a great shot but decided to crop tighter on the airframe and shoot bracketed exposures and maybe go with an HDR process.  It isn’t great but it came out better than I had expected.

Old British Locomotives

In the process of scanning so many old negatives, I come across shots that I had no idea I had taken.  When I still shot film, I would not go nuts taking shots but I was certainly willing to take a shot of anything that I found interesting at the time.  Since I had no idea that I was going to have a career in rail, I didn’t think trains would be very important.  However, I am an engineer at heart and any big mechanical items catch my interest.  It isn’t surprising that I found a few photos of trains.  Some of my old colleagues will find these of interest.  Others may just like them because they like trains.  My sister will probably like the Class 50 just because she used to commute to work behind them for a number of years!

G600 Test Jet

I heard a rumor about a Gulfstream test jet being at Boeing Field.  With a Saturday morning free, I decided to head over and investigate.  One of the things I had seen suggested it might be the G700.  Since that had only recently had its first flight, I was surprised it would be operating out of the west coast rather than Georgia so I decided to try and see it.  Of course, it wasn’t the G700.  Instead it was a G600 test airframe.  Since I had not seen a G600, I was still pleased to catch it.  The weather was crummy and it was due to go back to Savannah so I was wondering what sort of shots I would get.

Like any test jet, it didn’t depart when scheduled.  It was an hour later than planned when it rolled to the runway and then hung around at the hold point for ages.  Then it turned and taxied down towards the end where I was.  I couldn’t see it departing in the opposite direction because SeaTac was still flowing to the south and wasn’t showing any sign of changing.  It came down past me to the end of the runway and then turned around and taxied back the way it had come.  After all of this it departed into the overcast.

Given that I was expected a departure from the far end and a swift climb into the gloom, I hadn’t expected to get many shots I was pleased with.  Therefore, this sojourn down to my end and back provided plenty of chances to get a bunch of shots so this turned out to be a lot luckier than expected.  I am also a sucker for a jet in primer so thrown in a few instrumented panels for test purposes and I am a happy camper!

North Pacific Clouds Beneath Me

A had to go to Tokyo for work recently and, for the first time on my transpacific trips, I got a window seat.  The low winter sun angle made the clouds look great out of the window as we crossed the ocean heading to Japan.  I don’t know what was below us.  It might have been the Aleutians or it might have been nothing.  I just thought it looked pretty.

Japan Transocean Air

Haneda is a busy hub for Japan Air Lines (JAL).  While you visit, there will be a steady stream of JAL 737s coming and going so, another one arriving is no cause for interest.  However, I realized that this particular jet did not actually say Japan Air Lines on the fuselage.  Instead, it was marked Japan Transoceanic Air.  I had never heard of this airline before.  A little research shows that it is part owned by JAL – hence the use of the common livery – but there are other shareholders. Occasionally they will lend aircraft to JAL but they do operate to Haneda so I don’t know whether this was a JAL flight or one of their own.  A new airline for me, though.

Snoqualmie Falls in Full Flow

November and December in Washington were pretty dry.  For a state known for damp winters, we were rather lacking in rain.  January and February decided to make up for that and we had days of rain and not just showers but really heavy rainfall.  Local rivers are in flood all over the region.  Snoqualmie Falls were on TV as the flow over the falls was raging.  We have seen a variety of flow levels in our different visits based on river levels and the power generation requirements.  This looked more than we had seen before and a visit seemed worthwhile.

We weren’t the only ones with this idea.  Plenty of people were there and, talking to others after our visit, they all seemed to have visited too.  The full width of the falls was covered and the roar of the crashing water was impressive.  What was also dramatic was the impact on the viewing areas.  The spray from the falls was being driven up the side of the rocks by the wind and so, while the surrounding area was dry, in the immediate vicinity of the falls, it was raining pretty heavily.  One guy I talked to had his camera stop working it got so wet.

This made getting photos quite tricky.  While the cameras I had were up to the task, keeping the front of the lens dry was a difficult task.  The sun angle also meant any water on the lens was more conspicuous than normal.  At first I tried to keep it clear but I soon gave up and just went with whatever I could get.  We then went to the river in order to walk up towards the bottom of the falls.  However, this had been closed off, presumably because of the river levels, so I couldn’t get the other shots I was hoping for.

Dreamliner Glider

Around the world you can find plenty of parked Boeing 787s at the moment.  Problems with the Rolls Royce Trent engines for this type mean that airlines have been pulling engines from various airframes in order to keep others flying.  ANA uses Rolls engines on their fleet and I saw this aircraft being pulled around a taxiway at Haneda.  Both engines were off making it look quite odd.  It will certainly be a lot lighter than before but, somehow, I think that isn’t going to make it more efficient!