Rainbow Canyon Earns its Name in the Afternoon Light

Many of the aviation people reading this will immediately know what Rainbow Canyon is.  For the rest of you, it is a canyon in Death Valley.  It is part of a low flying route used for military training and it is a popular spot for photographers to get shots of low flying jets either at eye level or below you in the canyon.  Today it is not going to be pictures of the jets though.  The canyon earned its name because there are many layers of rock in the walls that are of different colors.

I was there in winter so the sun angles never got too high.  This avoided washing out the colors of the rocks quite effectively.  Even so, as the day wore on, the angle of the sun certainly improved from the point of view of getting the color out of the rocks.  There was plenty of time with nothing flying so I was able to enjoy the views around the canyon a lot.

One thing that you struggle to appreciate at a place like this is the scale.  I read about the Spanish first arriving at the Grand Canyon and totally failing to appreciate the scale because there was nothing to give them a reference.  Rainbow Canyon, while a lot smaller than the Grand Canyon (obviously), still is deceptive.  The distance across felt very small until a jet flew through and you realized how far away it still was and it was not even close to the other side.  A quick look on Google Maps with the scale showing makes you realize it is actually a long way across.

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Sure, Wait for the Storm

When the weather starts to turn, you can assume that whatever you are waiting for is likely to show up just after it gets bad.  In this case, a KC-46 Pegasus was on its way back to Boeing Field and the clouds were rolling in.  Things were getting darker and it looked like the clouds would open.  Meanwhile, the KC-46 was still a distance away.

Sure enough, the skies opened.  By the time the jet was on final approach, the light had disappeared and the rain was belting down.  I got some shots of it but, even with a bunch of exposure compensation, the jet was more of a silhouette than anything else.  A little post processing help brought out the detail but this was not an ideal shooting situation.  A dark grey jet in dying light is just what you want!

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Thor’s Well

The stretch of coastline in Oregon that we visited had plenty to do.  We had to scratch a few of the things we had thought about in order to do other things given the time available.  One of the things we didn’t get close to was Thor’s Well.  This is a hole in the rocks along the shore where the water can rush up from underneath.  You can get close to the hole but you have to be careful as this is the sort of thing that can overwhelm you if you are not careful.

We only got to watch this from the overlook along the highway.  The surf was running in quite strongly while we were there and the tides combined with it to provide a fair bit of action at the well.  Even so, from this distance, you didn’t get much of a sense of the power of the water.  If we go back, I will take the trail down there to get a closer look.

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The Chase is On!

Sometimes you find yourself in a position that yields a shot that you hadn’t anticipated.  Normally shooting stuff over a long distance doesn’t do much for you because atmospheric distortion means the shots are of no use.  However, sometimes the conditions are clear and things show up better.  In this case I was shooting some jets on final to SeaTac.  The position meant I had a good view of jets that were climbing out on departure.  The departure path from SeaTac to the south is straight for a long time so you could get two or three jets climbing out in sequence.  In this shot I got the three of them.

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Montlake Spite House

I saw something online about people building houses in unusual spaces.  Sometimes this was because that was all the space that they had available.  Other times they did it to spite someone who had the adjacent property.  One of them turned out to be in Seattle so I decided to check it out when we were over there running some other errands.  It is located in Montlake.

The house is a wedge shape.  If you look at it from the main road, it looks like a relatively normal frontage.  Nothing too special.  From the wide end, it seems like a single room width property.  There is a garage underneath and rooms above.  Go to the other end, though, and you see just how much it narrows down.  There is space for a door and that is about it.  A trip to Google Maps will show you the footprint of the house and you can see how it has been squeezed in.  A weird place for sure but apparently a popular house to own judging by the price it has sold for in the past!

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A Caravan on Floats (Despite My Previous Comments)

When I watched a Cessna Caravan on floats landing in Vancouver Harbour, I was rather critical of its water handling characteristics.  It wallowed horribly and didn’t look like it was supposed to be there at all.  However, the Caravan is not a bad plane and it is quite a rugged workhorse so I don’t have a gripe with it per se.  Another float equipped example took off from Paine Field while I was awaiting something else and the combination of the afternoon light and the closeness to the plane meant I was rather pleased with the shots that were possible.

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Lightroom Keyword Approach Update

I have been using Lightroom since the first version came out many moons ago.  For most of that time, I have been actively keywording my photos.  It is a bit time consuming, but it does provide for good searchability and it also is useful when providing images to stock agencies.  My initial keywording was a little light, but I have got a pretty good level of information in there now.  The only problem is that I have to try and remember all of the different words I use for given types.  I almost always forget something when doing this.

The solution to this is using a hierarchy system for the keywords.  Lightroom allow you to have these hierarchies in the keywords such that, if you add one word, a whole sequence of other words will automatically be added.  For example, if you want to add AH-64, it would also add Apache, military, helicopter, Boeing etc.  This does require you to set up all of the words properly of course.  I took a halfhearted go at this many years ago and it didn’t work out well.  Recently, I decided to have another go.

This time, I wanted to do things in a more organized way.  However, editing the words and the hierarchy structures in Lightroom seemed a bit slow going.  Then I realized you can export and import keywords.  I exported the words I currently have and it created a text file.  Where I had tried creating hierarchies before, these were shown as tabbed indents from the words above them.  Therefore, I figured I just had to create a text file in the same structure and then import it.

I spent a fair bit of time creating the file.  Setting up the structure I wanted required a bit of thought and I had to change things a few times as I realized certain groupings would work more efficiently.  I also changed a couple of times to have the one word that was likely to be used as I keyworded be the top of the hierarchy.  For example, I am going to add 787-8 reliably but not Dreamliner.  Therefore, if I have 787-8 at the top and Dreamliner below, it will get added without me thinking about it.  The same for F-22 versus Raptor.

By taking a couple of weeks to create the list, I got it pretty well laid out.  I remembered to add stuff as I went that I had initially forgotten so the final list was pretty comprehensive.  I will have still missed out on some stuff but it didn’t have to be everything.  All of the existing keywords are still going to be there, and I can add more stuff later if it seems valuable.  Finally, I imported the file to Lightroom and boom, all of the new structures were there.  Next time I add a bunch of stuff, we shall see whether it makes a significant different to the process.

One thing to note, if you have the keyword box set to Enter Keywords, this hierarchy approach doesn’t work. Much frustration ensued when I first found this. However, some good guidance was provided and by changing to Will Export, things work as intended. No idea why that is necessary but, now I know, things are okay. I am also going to progressively clean up the old keywords to get rid of the non-hierarchy ones to ease entry even further.

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Finally, We Get What We Came For

As my day at the canyon continued (you can read about the beginnings here), I got a bit more luck.  The Navy came to the rescue with some Hornets and Super Hornets making their way through the canyon.  One came in at an odd angle and then pulled out of the canyon over the overlook location.  This was fine for me but probably annoyed those further down the canyon.

Then we got something a lot more like what we had anticipated.  Jets came in along the angle from the highway starting out a lot lower than those that had come across the ridge.  They could drop in a lot more quickly and be deeper into the canyon as they came by.  This was what it was all about.  They provided a last minute contribution to what I had come for and I was very grateful.  A few more would have been good but it was okay.

Once disappointing aspect of this was that, with so few jets coming through, I shot all of them.  I didn’t have the opportunity to waste so I never got to keep the camera down and just appreciate the jets transitioning through below me for what it was.  On my next trip I will hopefully get to do that as well as get some shots.

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The Start of a New Stadium

NFL fans in a couple of cities are still mourning the loss of their teams to Los Angeles.  With the Rams and the Chargers both now based in LA, a new stadium is being built to accommodate them.  Meanwhile, they are playing in existing stadiums.  The new stadium, when it is finished, will be one of the most extravagant designs and will be used for other tasks including the future Olympics.  Right now, construction work is underway.  I saw the work site from my plane as I came in to LAX but didn’t have the camera to hand.  However, when flying above LAX in the helicopter, I was able to get some shots at a bit of a distance of the work in progress.

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Boomer Position in a 747

If you think of aerial refueling tankers, the Boeing 747 is not going to be the first plane that jumps to mind.  However, a tanker version of the 747 was developed and is in service to this day in Iran.  I haven’t seen one of those planes but, before they were built, Boeing undertook testing of the configuration on their testbed, the original 747 prototype.  This is on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.  When we were walking through the fuselage, we got to the read and found the boomer station.  Apparently, it was not removed after installation.  It looks remarkably similar to that from a KC-135 so I guess they ported the design across rather than come up with something significantly different.

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