Tag Archives: planning

Planning for the Eclipse

A couple of years ago I started thinking about the total solar eclipse.  We were living in California at the time and I had not long before been to an aviation shoot in Madras Oregon.  Madras was almost directly on the centerline of the path of totality so I thought about booking a hotel.  However, I didn’t do it then and time rolled on.  This year we moved to Washington so now Madras was a bit closer – just over five hours away if traffic is flowing freely.

As things got closer, it was time for a more thoughtful approach to what might be involved and this is where Nancy played the leading role.  She was not particularly interested in the eclipse but she knew I was.  Indeed, at one point in the run up she actually asked me if I would prefer to make the trip alone.  I can tell you that, having witnessed everything, she is really glad I didn’t want that!  Salem was the closest place with a good position for the totality.  Situated on I-5 south of Portland, that also meant a lot of other people were going to be going there so that was a non-starter.  Madras is further east which adds a bit to the drive but we focused on that.

We decided to stay in Portland the night before and set out early.  Plenty of people had been flooding in over the previous few days but, no doubt, others would be doing the same as us.  We also chose not to go to Madras itself but to go to Warm Springs just north of Madras.  This is a Native American reservation and they were welcoming people to the baseball fields to watch the eclipse.  The area is very dry so the chances of cloud obscuring things were a lot lower than closer to the coast.  To get there should take just under two hours from our hotel near Portland’s airport.  We decided to leave at 3am to give ourselves plenty of margin.

We did have a Plan B.  While there was a lot of time in the schedule for traffic, if it got really bad, we might just find ourselves on the highway when the eclipse happened.  As long as we got south of Mt Hood, we would be in the path of totality and, if you looked at the charts for timing, you didn’t have to get too far in to have a reasonably long period of totality.  We packed plenty of food and water and assumed, if it was totally congested, we would be with a huge bunch of people on the road and would enjoy it all together.

Getting up just after 2am, we checked the traffic reports online.  Everything was currently clear.  Good news but not necessarily to be relied on to last.  If we were leaving then, how many others were doing the same?  We put our stuff in the car and off we went.  The roads were pretty open and, as we got onto route 26, we were in a steady stream of cars but nothing that would slow you down.  We headed off into the wilderness.  This is a trip that takes you through some great scenery – if it is light.  Instead, we were out in the pitch black.  The stars around us were amazing to see since there was no light pollution if you weren’t looking ahead in the path of the headlights.

The traffic never materialized.  We got to Warm Springs in an hour and fifty minutes, arriving at the parking area fifteen minutes before it was due to open.  We met the nice people looking after things and they informed us we were the first to arrive and to park at the end of the row (which was hard to see in the pitch dark).  We parked up and had a few hours to kill so set the seats in the car up as a sofa and took it easy.  Nancy couldn’t sleep but I dozed off a few times.  Meanwhile, more cars arrived and people started milling around as it gradually got lighter.

Once the sun was up, we went off to look around the town and stretch our legs.  Then we set up our spot for the viewing.  I had brought two main cameras.  One was the longest lens combination I could get and the other had the 100-400 on it which I was planning to use for a time lapse.  I had bought solar filters for both a while back and B&H had shipped them with loads of viewing glasses.  We had shared some with friends already but we carried loads of spares in case anyone needed some.  No-one did though.  Everyone around us was well prepared so our spares stayed in the bag.  Meanwhile, I set the time lapse camera at an angle to see if I would track the path of the sun across the frame.  (I got this wrong as I did not have a steep enough angle.  I tweaked it a couple of times but it wasn’t ideal.  It worked but was a bit wonky!)

Lastly, I opened up the Solar Eclipse Tracker app on my phone which provided an audible guide to what was coming up and we got ready.  The skies were pretty clear initially with a hint of wildfire smoke in the distance.  As the time got closer, some high-level cloud did come in but nothing too significant.  Then it all started.  More to come…

Show Season – What to Do?

This time of year brings with it the opportunity for a number of airshows to be visited. I have found myself attending fewer shows in recent years than had previously been the case. This is a function of the changes that have taken place in the acts that are available to show bookers. There are fewer options available to show organizers, particularly with the reductions that the military has had to make in what it can bring to a show.

This is something that is a fact of life these days but the result is that there is less diversity in what is available at a given show. Moreover, some performers are more focused on certain areas so going to a couple of shows that are close to each other can result in the same acts each time. I am not critical of the individual acts and what they do but I am less inclined to see the same thing at multiple locations, particularly if the locations are difficult from an access point of view or if the lighting makes getting good shots tricky.

The result of this is that I have cut back on the shows that I go to. If I am going to a show, it is because there is something specific that is attending that I am interested in seeing. This means that I am less focused on the bigger events and more interested in some o the smaller locations that, while not having a big lineup, do provide a more intimate environment or something a little different from a performer perspective. This also includes events that aren’t shows in the traditional sense but are fly-ins or similar gatherings that provide an opportunity to be more involved with what is going on.

Having said all of that, I have attended a few shows recently and they will be the subject of upcoming posts. Stay tuned…

Lots of Work Down the Drain

No pictures in this piece and that is kind of the point.  I have been working for a long time on setting up a photo shoot.  The plan was to get some pretty unique shots of a rare jet that is owned buy a great guy I have worked with for a long time.  The plan was to charter a camera ship that allowed some options to get shots that are harder to get normally.  I had found an operator of the right aircraft that was in the right place and was happy to do the job.

We had the pricing agreed and they had even sent me the draft lease documents.  I had made some amendments to these and sent them back to be finalized and then suddenly everything goes quiet.  I send a follow up and hear nothing for a while.  Then I send another email and the response I get is not good.  They have found a more lucrative job and I am no longer on their schedule!  How about that?  You spend time briefing what is required, discussing all of the details, agreeing the pricing and you think that you have it all agreed.  You are finalizing a lease document which includes a down payment so you think they are serious.  Then you are dropped like a stone.

I think it is fair to say I am really pissed off.  I am not going to name names because that isn’t going to help and one day I might need them for something else so I will keep the details out of this.  However, I try to always be professional in the way I deal with people whatever part of my work is involved.  I guess not everyone shares that approach.  If they found a better job, perhaps they might have tried to solve my problem as well.  They gave me a name for an alternative but this short a notice period is unsurprisingly meaning that an alternative is not available.  The other guys tried hard to come up with a suggestion and I am grateful to them for that.

Having ranted I shall now wrap up.  I was really hoping that you would see here the great results of what had been planned but I shall have to say instead that it just didn’t happen.  Now to see if there is something we can come up with instead.