This post is about fish. No other reason than I was running through some shots and came across these pictures from the Ocean Coast Aquarium in Newport OR. Taking pictures of fish through thick aquarium glass is a bit of a crapshoot as the distortion can be bad and the potential for reflections is high. Since fish can be so fascinating, though, I always give it a go. Most of the shots turn out to be disappointing but a few work out. Some of the fish have happy looking faces (allowing for some anthropomorphizing) while others look sullen. You can let your imagination run riot.
There was a tank full of sardines at the aquarium that caught my attention. This was something that was really hard to photograph but I tried anyway. The sardines were swimming quickly in shoals and they looked much as you would expect them to – a sleek, silvery fish zipping through the water. The thing that caught my eye was they way that they opened their mouths to feed. The shape of the head is narrow and clean but, when they open their mouths, flaps of skin unfold to create a huge opening allowing them to scoop up food from a far wider area. A few of the shoal would do this at any one time so you never knew where to look but they would open wide for a second or two and then close up again. It totally transformed their appearance.
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!
The A-4 Skyhawk had a long and illustrious career in many air forces around the world. It has a close cousin that didn’t fair so well. The Skyray shared a few design cues with the Skyhawk but it was designed as a fighter rather than an attack aircraft (although the Skyhawk spent a lot of time as an adversary fighter over the years). I find the Skyray a more attractive aircraft than the Skyhawk (not that I have anything against the Skyhawk) but that might be more about the rarity value.
I thought I had come across one parked in the parking lot of the Evergreen Aerospace Museum in McMinnville Oregon. I was surprised to find it there at all and more so to see it sitting outside. I am not sure what the future is for the jet – obviously some parts are removed for the time being – but I hope it will make it in to restoration. It certainly is worthy of a good home. That is even more true because it is not a Skyray. It is actually a Skylancer. This was a development of the Skyray that got so modified that it became a new type. It never got to production and this example was used by NASA before retirement. In this location, it is possible to get up on the earth bank behind it to get an angle that might be trickier if it ends up inside the museum.
The missile display at Evergreen Aerospace Museum is impressive. They have sourced a lot of different types and they have a Titan IV section lying on its side. You can get up close to the nozzle of the rocket motor and it is a cool thing to see in detail. Looking from a distance, they look very simple but, once you are close up, the complexity of the structure and the cooling structure to stop the plume from burning right through the nozzle are really impressive. The shaping of the nozzle itself, in contrast, is very simple. The expansion ratios are calculated carefully and the profile is a smooth transition to minimize the losses. Quite the contrast.
In the UK, the puffin is a well recognized bird. The small body and large bill are easily identified and the coloring is pretty bright. I am struggling to think whether I have ever seen one in the wild as they live in some pretty remote places. I might have but I don’t recall it. The aquarium in Newport OR had a bunch of them though. While the coloring was a lot more subdued, there was no doubt that they were puffins given their shape.
Whether birds really have personality or not, you can imagine it with puffins. They seem to be very fussy in the way they move which is probably just a function of being quite a small bird. As they paddled around the pool and flapped their wings, we got a good look at their mannerisms. The enclosure was pretty compact so you were very close to them which allowed some good opportunities to get some shots. Seeing them out in the wild would be cooler but I don’t tend to hang around on cliff faces too often.
Back in the summer of 2017, we made a trip to Oregon for the solar eclipse. You can read all about that in previous posts here and here. The night before the eclipse, we stayed in Portland and the most convenient place to stay was at a hotel near the airport. The location turned out to be between the two runways at PDX and that evening the approach paths brought the planes in from our direction to the runways.
I figured I could pop out for a few minutes and photograph some of the arrivals. The evening light was coming in and we were a little on the wrong side of the closer runway but this was an impromptu shoot so I didn’t mind. A little biz jet traffic came in on the other runway while I got a selection of Q400s, FedEx freighters and the usual narrowbodies.
Since I was close to the centerline of the approach, it provided a slightly different perspective to that which I would normally go for. Looking up and almost straight down the nose is interesting. Not something to do all the time but certainly some variety (particularly if it only requires you to walk out to the parking lot). It’s good to try different angles on a regular basis and avoid getting repetitive.
Cannon Beach was quite a way north of where we were staying in Oregon. However, it was on our route home so we stopped off to wander along the sands for a bit prior to hunting down some lunch. We were not the only ones enjoying a sunny day on the beach but, given the expanse of sand available, there was plenty of space for everyone to spread out so it wasn’t crowded.
The huge flat sands were most impressive and the rocks that sit out in the water look very cool. It is hard to gauge their scale when they are out like that as they are so separated from the people that you don’t have enough of a reference to work with. It is safe to say that they are pretty big though. There was a bit of sea spray in the air which made everything take on a slightly more misty look when you were looking south towards the sun. Looking north this was a lot less apparent. I could see why a landscape photographer would come here to spend some time in the early and late hours.
The moisture in the air along the Oregon coast can catch you out at times. On one drive south out of Yachats we rounded a bend in the road where we looked down from quite a height along the beaches stretched beneath us. It looked most impressive, but we were then on the way down a twisty road and had missed the pull off. I made a note to come back another time. This I did but the conditions had changed a lot. There was now a lot more mist in the air and the beaches were disappearing into the glare from the sun. Even so, it was still a very pretty location.
We did a bit of a road trip while in Oregon. I was interested in seeing Bandon Beach again – we went there about ten years before but I didn’t remember much about it – and it was a couple of hours down the coast but we had a day when the weather was forecast to start out average and get better. Therefore, a road trip seemed like a good idea. It was quite fun seeing the different scenery as we headed down the coast but, after a while, the highway moved inland and we were getting a different type of view (or none at all for some parts of it).
We got to Bandon and checked out the view from different parts of the coastline. However, while the light was pretty good, I had not anticipated just how windy it was going to be. As I stood on the overlook checking out the beach, I was getting absolutely pummeled by the wind. It was hard to stand upright let alone hold the camera steady. Of course, if the picture ends up being sharp, there is nothing in it that would indicate how the conditions were.
Bandon is like a lot of the Oregon coastline in that it has large rock stacks sitting on or just off the beach. These make the area rather popular with landscape photographers. An early morning start and the use of tripods and strong neutral density filters is going to be pretty common here I would imagine. That was not what I was here for. I didn’t even venture down to the beach. Given how hard the wind was blowing, it didn’t seem like it would be the relaxing beach stroll that I would have liked so I was content to enjoy the view from up on the bluffs. Besides, we had the drive back to consider as well.