Tag Archives: launch

Lightroom Craps Out With Videos

This is a tale of a problem I got in to with Lightroom.  I Googled solutions for this and got a bunch of suggestions but none of them worked.  In the end, Adobe sorted out the issue but I wanted to share what happened in case anyone else experiences the same issue and ends up Googling like I did.  Maybe this post will help someone out.  The source of the problem was an MP4 video file that apparently had some corruption within it.  This screwed up stuff within Lightroom that needed some detailed work to fix.  First, I shall tell you what the main error was.  This might be what someone is searching for.

Dynamic Link Media Server Failed to Launch

The result is that video files don’t import and then you seem to struggle to preview videos at all.  When you are in the Import dialog, the video preview doesn’t show and an icon of a camera comes up instead.  Some of the recommendations online were to delete the Dynamic Link Media folders in the App Data section of Windows and restart but that didn’t help.  I also tried that and deleting the media cache but no luck.  Next was to delete the Preferences folder for Lightroom which can often be a solution for unexplained problems but that didn’t work either.  That is when I got Adobe involved.

The support engineer tried a bunch of things.  Eventually, he created a new user on the machine and opened up Lightroom in there.  We tried importing a new video file from the same camera and that worked.  He then set about deleting the Lightroom related app data in my user profile and replacing it with the data from the new User.  We then tried importing the new file and it worked fine.  Next was the previous file and that caused the same problem as before.  Now we knew the file was the problem we could isolate that from everything we did afterwards.

Of course, I had damaged Lightroom again but now we knew what was required, it was a simple task to copy the folders across again.  The only downside to this was that all of my presets and information got deleted.  However, I had copied the old Lightroom folders before starting all of this.  It wasn’t too tricky to replace my camera profiles, develop presets and plugins.  At first I thought I had lost some functionality that I really like.  I have a plugin called LRInstagram which allows me to post from Lightroom to Instagram directly.  Facebook has turned off the ability to do this so, if you install the plugin now, it won’t work.  However, something about my legacy setup meant I had still been using it.  When I tried to set this up again, it failed to work.  However, my old Lightroom folder had a sub folder for the plugin which contained something like a cookie and, when I copied this across, I was back up and running!

All of this is to say, if you have a similar problem to me, there is a solution.  I won’t lay out the files that are involved because it is a bit tedious and there are some other things to bear in mind but, if this happens to you, get in touch and I will talk you through what we did.

Inshore Lifeboat Deployment

Bembridge has two RNLI lifeboats.  The launch of the all-weather Tamar boat has got a lot of coverage on the blog but I shouldn’t overlook the inshore boat that is also stationed there.  This boat can deal with lots of issues close to shore which the big boat is ill-suited for.  You might think this is less perilous work than that on the open seas but some of the rescue the inshore boats have carried out have really put the crews in harm’s way, often with them entering the water in rough and rocky shallows in breaking surf to rescue people trapped by changeable conditions.

After the all-weather boat had launched, the crew took the inshore boat out.  It is mounted on a trailer with a tug to move it out.  The tide was out and the reason for the boathouse pier is obvious with the exposed rocky shoreline.  They maneuvered the boat on its trailer in to the water and then got on board and powered it up.  Then it was off for training with the all-weather boat as well as on their own.  Again, the commitment of these crews should not be left unmentioned.  If you can do anything for the RNLI in any way, whether it is a membership or just donating when you see someone collecting on the high street, please do it.

Launching the RNLI Tamar Lifeboat

When the old lifeboat station was in use, it was a lot more constrained.  It was not designed to accommodate many visitors and it certainly wasn’t intended for them to be there during a launch.  The new station at Bembridge has plenty of space for visitors (as long as there aren’t too many of them) and you can stay in place during the launch.  In fact, they want people to witness the launch since fund raising for the RNLI is vital to sustaining the service.

I got there ahead of the crowds and asked the crew where a good spot was to watch the launch from.  The pointed out a corner in the railings behind the boat as the best spot so I stationed myself there and waited for things to get going.  In hindsight, I think they were mistaken.  If I am to go back again for a launch, I will aim to be in location directly astern of the boat as you will understand from the shots.

The launch sequence is pretty quick.  The boat rests on a tilting table to keep it level in the boathouse for maintenance work but to allow it to be repositioned for the slipway when needed.  They pull on a winch line at the back to move the boat slightly at which point it tilts nose down and ready for launch.  The engines are started and both props checked for correct rotation.  If all is good, there is a sound of the ship’s horn and then the restraining line is released and off they go down the slipway.

It depends on how low the tide is as to how long the run down the slipway is and how big of a splash there is when it enters the water, but the water entry is impressive to say the least.  My position meant I had a bit of the side of the boathouse in the shots which I regret but I think you can still see just how big of a splash there is as they enter the water.  One in the water, the mast is erected quickly (it is lowered when in the boathouse) and they are up to speed.

Since this was not an operational launch, they got the boat configured and then did a run past the end of the station to wave to everyone gathered to watch.  With the second launch planned for that evening, I persuaded Nancy and Mum to go along.  I think neither of them was particularly bothered either way, but they accommodated me and were so glad that they did.  The evening launch turned out to be the same boat.  I am not sure what happened with the swap that was planned but clearly plans had changed.  I left the twosome to head into the boathouse and positioned myself along the shore to get some different shots.

The tide was a bit lower so I figured the run down the slipway would be a bit more dramatic.  Unlike the morning launch, this one had been given more publicity so there were plenty of people showing up to watch.  I understand the boathouse was busy but not uncomfortably so.  The new design is clearly working out for visitors.  When you are outside, you don’t get the commentary that is provided inside during demonstrations so I was waiting and hoping to know when the launch would occur.

I could just see the front of the boat through the windows so I knew I would see when it tilted down.  Sure enough, when it started to drop, I knew to be ready (and also warned a few people around me too).  Then we heard the horn blast and out came the boat.  It moves swiftly down the ramp, but it isn’t so fast that you could miss it.  I was actually able to get some wide and tight shots as if slid down.  Then the entry to the water which is what I was really there for.  Again, the crew erected the mast and did a run past the boathouse.  They then headed off for some training and we met up to head to the pub for dinner.  The excitement they had both experienced I fully understood from the morning launch.

If you can, go and watch a launch.  It is something most impressive.  Also, make a donation if you can.  The boat is funded by donations and almost everyone involved is a volunteer.  We saw this all on a sunny, summer’s day.  So often, this is on a stormy winter’s night and they are heading into awful conditions – just because they want to do what is needed by someone they don’t know.  That is something special.

Titan II Installation

The Titan IV at Evergreen isn’t the only Titan there.  They also have a Titan II ICBM.  This is installed upright in a recreation of the launch facility that would originally have been buried deep under a remote part of the US countryside.  You can walk down and check out the control facilities (probably a touch closer to the silo than would originally have been the case) as well as get down to the base of the silo where the twin nozzles of the missile are.  Looking up at the missile from down there is quite an impressive sight.

The Titans were liquid fueled rockets.  The process of getting them ready for launch was a lot more complex than for the solid fueled rockets like the Minuteman that replaced them so they were a lot less responsive.  However, they fulfilled their role for a long time.  They also had a secondary career as manned launchers.  The Titan II was the launch vehicle for the Gemini missions so it is a lot more familiar to most people than would be the case for the average ICBM!

Portland Eagle Launches

The F-15s based at Portland International Airport are an active bunch.  From what I understand, they tend to launch two waves of jets a day, one first thing in the morning and the next around lunchtime.  I was there early waiting to pick up some colleagues from a flight.  I was sitting in the parking lot waiting for the message that they had landed.  I wasn’t even thinking about the Eagles.  My camera was in the trunk.  Then I heard a noise and rapidly realized what it was.

I was never going to get out of the car, open the trunk, get the camera out and on in time to get the first jet but I was ready for the second and third.  It was a cloudy day so not exactly ideal conditions for shooting a gray jet but they were F-15s so who is complaining.  After a brief gap, some more jets launched as well and this time I was ready.  Just as they cleared me, I got a text from my colleagues saying they were ready to be picked up.  What excellent timing.

Trying Something Different for the Night Burner Shots

When the B-1s show up at Red Flag, everyone is pretty pleased.  A big bomber with four afterburning engines is like a giant fighter to photograph.  It is a good looking jet.  It also has a nice feature at night.  The majority of the fighters that take off in burner are back to military power shortly after getting airborne.  The B-1 is a different story.  It stays in burner for a ridiculous amount of time.  Not having flown one, I don’t know whether they pull back the power from full burner at some point but they do stay plugged in for ages.  Long into the climb you can still see the glow.

I have shot the B-1s from a location out in the area on the extended centerline before.  Go back to some old posts here and here and you will see the sort of shots I am talking about.  Paul has also shot from out there so we agreed to try something different.  We headed closer to the rotation point.  The jets get airborne pretty smartly and, the closer in they are, the further away they are from the highway.  However, something that had more of a side on feel was what I was after and so we tried a different spot.

Of course, you never know what time the launch will start and when the B-1s will be scheduled for so there is a lot of sitting around and waiting – in the dark.  During the day it is easy to hang about and wait for something to move.  At night things seem to take longer and you feel a bit more exposed.  However, they did eventually launch and these shots are the result.  I have learned some new things about the behavior of the camera at night which will be useful next time so, while the shots aren’t perfect, it was certainly worthwhile.

It is Dark at Nellis During the Night Launch

On previous trips to Red Flag I have taken pictures of the departing B-1Bs as they fly overhead.  The burners are really impressive and definitely worth getting a shot of from below.  However, having done this a few times, I wanted to try something different.  The fighter get out of burner very quickly after they get airborne.  They are in mil power for ages before they get to you on the centerline.  I wanted to see what you could get from the side a lot closer in so Paul agreed to try something different.

We ended up shooting a lot of side on stuff of departures for the night launch.  Unfortunately, we didn’t appreciate just how dark it is at Nellis at night.  We had a good moon so we were hopeful that there might be some residual light.  It turns out that this is not the case.  Even close in, the fighters are out of burner.  The tankers and the E-7 went out and I got some shots but they were a struggle, event making use of the best high ISO capabilities of the cameras.  The B-1s did show up okay but I still didn’t do as well as I thought I should have.

I learned a bit about the performance of the cameras.  I was shooting at super high ISO settings with the camera wide open.  However, as I review the shots, I realize the camera was behaving in a way that I had not anticipated.  I was shooting in aperture priority with some negative exposure compensation dialed in.  As I look through the shots I see that the camera would start out with a dark shot, gradually boost the exposure and then go dark again.  I would review the shots and see one that was looking good but know that the next would be dark.

When shooting in such limited light, the shutter speeds are very low and the number of lost shots is high.  Therefore, you can’t afford to have the exposure be bad.  I don’t know how many shots I lost since they may not have been sharp anyway but I cut down on my opportunities.  In future, I need to have all of the exposures be acceptable in order to maximize my opportunities.  Therefore, I think I shall have to go fully manual on everything for these shots.  Set ISO up high and then go to manual aperture and shutter speed.  I will still lose a lot of shots but at least I can focus on dealing with my handholding technique rather than worrying about how the camera is metering a dark night.  It’s not too reasonable to expect the camera to get that right every time.  It is a pretty extreme case!

Another Night Launch on a Cold and Windy Night

C59F5307.jpgThe evening launch at Red Flag is something I have had a go at on a number of occasions. Consequently, regular readers that pay close attention may feel that this post is a bit repetitive and they would be correct. I was a bit better prepared for the night launch than on previous occasions. I had brought a cable release and a Gorillapod to allow me to have a bit better a set up for the time lapse video of the launch. Meanwhile, I was shooting handheld with the second body.

C59F5147.jpgSadly, a couple of things were not working in my favor. First, it was pretty windy and, while I had the camera set up on the hood of the car, it was a bit vulnerable to movement as the car moved in the wind and the camera vibrated on the pod. Consequently, some of the video is less than ideal. However, conditions did seem to settle down a bit and the later part of the video seems to steady up a bit.

C59F5534.jpgSecond was that there was no moon. It was very dark and cold out there. I managed to get some shots of the B-1B launches but the only illumination was from the burners. No ambient light at all so they didn’t look as good as on previous attempts. I did try to stay for the whole launch and not to get the time lapse showing things in full swing when it ends but there is a limit to how long you want to hang out in the cold when everyone else has gone. I got most of the launch but I did see a bunch of jets head out as I passed the speedway. I probably should have tried getting some shots from there as they were still in burner at that point.


Orbital TriStar

QB5Y0265.jpgAnother opportunity that Richard organized for us while at Mojave was the chance to shoot Orbital Science’s Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. This is an airframe that was modified to provide the launch platform for their Pegasus orbital launch vehicle. The underside of the fuselage is modified to mount the Pegasus which is then taken to altitude and dropped before the booster ignites. The TriStar is a type that disappeared from service far faster than its rival, the DC-10, so seeing one in great condition was pretty cool.

QB5Y0260.jpg QB5Y0254.jpg

Night Launches

wpid13242-C59F8185.jpgWhen the daylight flying activities are over, there is still the night and Red Flag has a night mission that is flown on most days. Therefore, after dinner, you can head up to a spot north of the speedway where there is a great view over the base with Las Vegas in the background. It is dark up there so there are not many good chances for shooting the jets but you can sometimes get some shots of stuff flying over if it lights itself up.

wpid13240-C59F7969.jpgHowever, you can get some shots of the base with the launching jets showing up either from their afterburners or from the heat distortion they leave behind.

wpid13238-C59F7906.jpgThe other thing is to run a time lapse and see the jets moving around on the base and then streaking off into the sky. I ran a couple of them over two nights. Below is the result of one of them. Two things to note. First, the launch was very spread out. The main jet launch was actually quite late and I was tired and cold so cut short the sequence while they were still heading out. The second is that a weird optical effect shows up in the video. It is a movement of the image a bit like heat haze. However, since the shots are taken over such a long period of time, you would think that would not be an issue. Something is going on though so if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to comment with your thoughts.