There was a meeting of the IPMS northwest branch at the Museum of Flight recently. My friend Jim had given me a heads up about it taking place and, with a day free, I figured I would pop along. The display as a whole gets its own post but this one was about my experimenting with focus stacking. I went to this a previous year and took some focus stacking shots handheld to see how it would go. This time I went prepared and took a bunch of shots.
I took a tripod and my macro f/2.8 lens to try and get detailed shots while isolating the background. There were lots of models on display, some of which were really good. However, they didn’t all make good subjects since many were displayed in amongst lots of other models. I picked the ones I liked as a wandered around and them went back to shoot them. Many of the stacks worked out just fine and I include an example or two of what worked well. However, some of them just confused the software.
I use Photoshop to do my focus stacks. However, on one of the shots that I really wanted to work well – the FW190 which had a diorama – things didn’t work well. I decided to Google other software solutions and came up with two other applications for focus stacking. I downloaded trials of both but neither managed to do a good job of it. I guess this combination of shots just made it too hard for the software to make it work. I can see the rear fuselage markings of the FW190 showing through the wing of the aircraft. Maybe this is a function of the narrow depth of field of the f/2.8 shots. The wing gets blurred out a lot when the rear fuselage is in focus and it decides to take that area as the one to give preference too.
All of this is to say, I have found a new aspect of this technique that needs further investigation. My earlier experiments with focus stacking probably made it easier on the software. I have now started to make it a bit harder. Maybe I need to control the aperture to get things to behave the way I want. That might have to be tailored to make sure I don’t get the background coming in to focus too much since that separation is something that I want to preserve. If you have experience with this, I would welcome advice.
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.
The IPMS has a gathering of their members for a display of their models each year at the Museum of Flight. I went along to say hello to my friend Jim and to see what creations were on display. While it is held at the Museum of Flight, it is not restricted to planes although there are plenty of those. I was interested to see quite a number of rocket models including a great Atlas/Mercury launch pad diorama.
Everything was laid out on the main museum floor around the M-12 which is certainly not a bad background to have for an event.
The Comet may have been the first British jet airliner and the first in commercial service but it is not too well served by Museums. I guess the stragglers got chopped up when they had served their purpose. Everett is home to a Comet 4 though with the Museum of Flight’s restoration facility being home to one. Progress on it has been slow but steady. I have seen it a few times over the years. You used to be able to walk outside and see the bits stuck outdoors but now there is commercial service at Paine Field, the ramp is a bit more secure.
On my most recent visit, I wandered through the cabin and had a look in the cockpit. The cockpit did result in some HDR shots and I wrote a post about that here that discussed the different results Adobe software provides for HDR. These shots just give you an idea of what the early days of jet aviation brought to the flying public.
The Museum of Flight has been holding a special exhibit this summer for the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing. The museum has a number of interesting Apollo exhibits as it is but these were combined with some extra items specific to Apollo 11 and its crew. The centerpiece of this was the command module, Columbia. We actually waited until near the end of the exhibit before we visited but it was well worth the trip. Columbia was in the center of the final room of the tour and you could walk all around it.
The hatch was separate from Columbia and set up so that you could look through the window of the hatch at the command module itself. This was a nice idea but, since the exhibit was so popular, getting a moment when there wasn’t someone in the shot was unrealistic. Other items on display included gloves worn on the surface by Buzz Aldrin (which had various checklists embroidered on patches attached to the gloves), a NASA jumpsuit worn by Neil but used for chores on his farm in later years and his Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
The display also included the recovered engines normally on display but with the addition of a part from one of the Apollo 11 F1 engines recovered by Jeff Bezos’s team. The local Boeing connection to the project was well represented and a lunar rover was on display to highlight this too. Even at the end of the exhibits time, there was a long line of people waiting to get in. We had an early slot which turned out to be a good thing. By the time we got out, the line had grown substantially.
An online discussion I was involved in recently revolved around supersonic transports. While the TU-144 and Concorde were the main focus, the Boeing 2707 also came up. I had seen the front fuselage mockup of this when it was at the Hiller Museum in San Carlos. I realized I didn’t have any good photos of it and was a touch annoyed. Looking up the story of the mockup, I found it was now at the Museum of Flight Restoration Facility at Paine Field.
I hadn’t visited the facility since moving up here so figured a visit was in order. The mockup is easily accessible in the main part of the hangar. However, it is rather big and so only fits in with the nose section removed. I had a chat with the docent and he advised that it was unlikely to be moved to the main museum building given the amount of space it takes up. I assume it will stay where it is for the foreseeable future. The rest of the mockup was destroyed long ago so it is great that this piece has survived as a relic of a long gone program.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has been under construction for a while including the restoration of the B-52G, Midnight Express that spent many years outside at Paine Field. The opening ceremony took place over the Memorial Day weekend and I went along to check it out. I wrote an article for GAR about the ceremony and, if you want to read that, you can see it here.
The article includes most of the good images from the event so I won’t duplicate it all here but instead I shall just post a couple of shots that summarize what happened.
I certainly won’t stand out from the crowd by claiming that I am a bit of a fan of the F-8 Crusader. Plenty of people think it is a cracking jet. I didn’t get to see many of them. French Navy jets were still in service and, while the RF-8s were in use with the Navy at the beginning of my interest in aviation, I don’t think I ever saw in in service example. Doesn’t stop me liking them though. The Museum of Flight has the prototype jet in their collection. Prior to the unification of the type identifiers between the services, it was known as the XF8U-1.
I first saw it while it was undergoing restoration at the museum’s facility at Paine Field. My first visit there was when it was free. You could just show up and wander around. Now you have to pay to get in but it is still a good visit to make. Restoration is when things are a lot less glamorous but you do see the work underway to makes things look great.
Now the jet has been moved to the main museum facility at Boeing Field. It is polished to a fine finish and is complete with an air data boom. The markings it carries appear to be authentic based on some original photos of the aircraft and, with its location close to the window, it does gleam nicely. Oh to find someone with a lot of money and a desire to have one of these jets airworthy again.
Early efforts at composite business aircraft did not go smoothly. The Beech Starship ended up being a burden on the company and they bought most of the planes back and destroyed them. Prior to the Starship, there was the Lear Fan. A project started by Bill Lear and continued after his death, the idea was a composite aircraft with two engines driving a single pusher propeller. The light airframe and plenty of power was to provide great performance. Sadly, the early approach to composite design did not go smoothly, nor did the gearbox design to combine the two engines to one propeller.
The project folded after three prototypes had been built. All three still remain and I have seen two of the three. One lives in the Museum of Flight here in Seattle while another is in the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field in Dallas. The third one is in Oklahoma City so I am a bit annoyed I never knew that when I traveled there regularly. Still, two out of three isn’t bad. The single prop looks pretty chunky (the idea being that single engine handling was identical to twin engine handling) and I imagine the diameter had to be limited to avoid prop strike issues during rotation. Overall, it is quite a neat looking design. A shame it was a bit ahead of the technology curve when it was designed and built.
Sleeping through an event is not clever but I have an excuse. I had guests! The Museum of Flight has a Boeing B-52G Stratofortress that has long been stored outside up at Paine Field. Recently, the airframe has been repainted in preparation for its move to the museum location where it will go on display. The following shots show it in its painted state and then in the disassembly process ahead of the move. Some of the components were already at the museum when I last visited including the engine nacelles.
The plan was to move it down overnight during the weekend. I had intended to track the movement and get some shots of the plane out on the streets. Unfortunately, while Mum was staying with me, I sort of forgot that was my plan and woke up on the Sunday morning that it arrived and realized I had missed the whole thing. Doh!