Working from home introduces you to sounds from the street that you never normally hear when you are there outside working hours. Nancy knows all of these things since she hears them all the time but they are new to me. However, we were both taken aback by something that sounded like a roaring noise. I had to investigate. It appears that the power company was doing some work digging up the road outside our street. I guess they had to cut in to a gas line and they had set up some device, presumably to burn off excess gas before continuing their work. It was only a brief event but a noisy one!
If you take a garbage truck and attach it to a power pole that you aren’t supposed to attach it to, you are likely to cause some trouble. We had a blackout as a result of such an event. The pole ended up punching a hole in the roof of a nearby house (thankfully it wasn’t raining) and power to our area was cut off. I got home as the light was fading and got a few shots of the damage. The power lines are strong and they had succeeded in taking down two lamp posts as well.
I popped back out to see how things were progressing and to watch the teams at work fixing the situation. Making the initial pole safe took a lot of time as bits of it were removed. A new pole was put in place and the old pole lifted back up and attached to the new one. I assume this was a temporary fix. Focus then shifted to the next pole which was leaning at an angle that suggested it had taken a bit of the load too. This one just got straightened up and didn’t need to be replaced. I gave up watching after a while since I preferred to be indoors in the warm. Power came back on at 9pm so we were able to sort out the things that had been cut off before turning in for the night.
Up in the Cascades, there are a bunch of dams. The rivers have been dammed to provide hydroelectric power. The lowest dam was not terribly cool looking but the dams higher up the pass looked a lot more like you would expect a dam to look. One of them was easy to see although it was deep in shade while the rest of the scene was very bright. HDR seemed to be the way to go. The last dam we passed was visible from the highway but it was hard to get a clear look at it without some vegetation getting in the way. Time to reach above your head while standing on a rock and using the Live View mode to try and see what you were shooting. Limited success but at least you could see something.
Newhalem’s role in generating power was reflected in the local park. It had a center section that had been designed to emphasize the position that electricity has in the town with the pillars supporting the roof frame and the frame itself having an electrical theme. The big insulators were most obvious but it wasn’t hard to spot other elements too. A rather individual bit of styling and one that appealed to me.
Snoqualmie Falls may be impressive but they would be even more so if there weren’t a diversion of a lot of the water. There are two hydroelectric power stations at the Falls. The original station is built into the Falls themselves. Water is taken off at one side and drops down to some turbines before being ejected alongside the base of the falls. The exiting water can be seen from above.
The second station was built a few years later and has been expanded since. Water is ducted around the Falls to a holding pond where it then enters some pipes that run it down the side of the hill to a turbine hall. The hall has been replaced and expanded relatively recently but the style has been kept in keeping with the original. The pipes also look like they have been replaced because they looked quite new. As we walked across them, it was hard to imagine just how much power was flowing within.
The round the world trip of Solar Impulse, the solar powered aircraft conceived of by Bertrand Piccard and built/flown by him and Andre Borschberg, resumed its journey after an enforced stay in Hawaii while they dealt with some overheating issues with the batteries. By the time the batteries were fixed, it was too late in the year to continue. The aircraft charges its batteries during the day and uses them at night. If the day is shorter and the night longer, the flight is not sustainable. The arrival of spring meant they could resume the trip.
Originally the leg from Hawaii to the continental US was supposed to go to Phoenix. The break meant they came up with a revised route which included a stop in the Bay Area at Moffett Field in Mountain View. This meant I could cover it for Global Aviation Resource. There are two articles I prepared which you can see here and here.
The arrival was scheduled for about midnight. Late landings and early departures are scheduled to provide the calmest conditions. The very high aspect ratio, lightweight airframe is sensitive to turbulence. It also is easier to schedule a very slow aircraft in to the air traffic patterns during the night. While the time moved around a bit, it ended up being pretty much as expected. This brought the issue of how to shoot an aircraft at midnight.
I took a second shooter with me in the person of Hayman Tam. I wanted stills and video for the story and can’t get both at once so we worked on it together. He would focus on stills and I would get video. I would also get some stills too. The plane is sufficiently slow that you can get both for most situations apart from the landing itself. It didn’t hurt that Hayman had just taken delivery of his D500 which should be a lot better in low light.
I was mounting my camera and the 100-400 on a gimbal mount to steady it for video. This was also helpful for getting stills. Not ideal but better than nothing. I was at the max ISO for my camera of 12,800 (excluding the extended ranges) with -1 to -2 in exposure compensation. Even so, it was still a very slow shutter speed. Some bursts of shooting were necessary to get a reasonable shot. Fortunately the aircraft has a lot of lights of its own otherwise there wouldn’t be much to see. It’s a shame my new bodies hadn’t arrived at the time as they might have been able to get better results. Even so, I was quite pleased with what I got considering that I was shooting in the darkest conditions I have ever tried for a plane.
YouTube is a fantastic way to lose track of time. It may well have an abundance of crap but it also has lots of informative material. More importantly, watch one thing and you get recommendations of other things, many of which are actually quite useful. I was watching a video by Tony Northrup on building a computer for photo processing and he was talking about putting the Lightroom catalog on an SSD. This got me thinking about something.
When I built my system, I installed an SSD to be the drive on which the OS is installed along with the applications. I have traditional hard drives for the data storage. One of these was set up with the Lightroom catalogs keeping them separate from the image files to make the response time better. At the time of the build, a 250Gb SSD was affordable but not cheap so that was what I went with. With everything installed, that doesn’t have enough space for the catalogs.
I never thought more about it until after this video. I started thinking about some old SSDs I have and looked at whether the catalogs would fit on either of them. It turns out that, with all of the preview files, the SSDs were not big enough. However, I did then have a look at the price of a drive that would be large enough such as another 250Gb drive. That would have plenty to spare to account for future needs.
While looking at these, I was also able to see 500Gb drives and they are only about $150. I was unaware just how much the price had fallen. Consequently, a spare drive bay now holds my Lightroom catalogs. I only have a relatively small amount of experience with the new configuration but it is safe to say that things are positively zipping along compared to where they were before. I was wondering whether the system might be in need up upgrade or replacement but this one change seems to have made things significantly better. I will report further if I discover more but, if you have a similar configuration, this might be the upgrade that makes things noticeably better.
The Labor Day weekend is the time for power boat racing at Kankakee IL. My friend Joel Love had told me about this and suggested I come down. The Monday was the only day I had free so I drove on down. Kankakee is about an hour south of Chicago so a short hop.
The racing takes place along the river. There is a large park area on the south bank which was where I headed and, as it happened, was also where Joel was set up about 10 feet from my chosen spot! The boats launch and recover on the north bank but the lighting was a lot more friendly on the south side. It turned out that Monday was the day the weather went from warm and sunny to cool, windy and occasionally cloudy. However, it still held well enough, even if I was a bit colder than planned!
There were a variety of classes of racing underway. Some small individual boats and some far larger and more complex looking single seat racers. Catamarans and mono-hulls were taking part in the different classes. It all made for a lot of fun racing.
There were some boats that were clearly better than others and so the races weren’t always involving close competition for position. However, the faster boats could easily lap the slower boats in some races so you could end up with a steady stream of boats and some passing being necessary.
The other thing you could get a lot of was retirements! Some might be mechanical problems but other were more spectacular. Flipping the boat, rolling the boat, spearing another boat – all of this went on. The more dramatic stuff was often where I wasn’t looking of course! The wind gusting about the course could make for a little excitement if the boats got a little nose high. Given their speed and lack of weight, a slip was likely. The boats seem to disintegrate pretty dramatically when they hit the water.
One class had so many incidents and restarts that they eventually called it short of the full race distance. By that point, the competitors had become expert at getting lined up in the starting positions since they had done it so many times (although there was a bit more space at each restart due to the number of boats falling out of the race!).
It was a fun event to watch and even more fun to shoot. The action was close, there was plenty going on and the boats were colorful. If something dramatic happened, that was a bonus – provided everyone came out of it okay. I got the feeling it was a bit like NASCAR or hockey in that the fans enjoyed a bit of the unplanned activity as well as the racing. The tour takes races to a number of locations so you might want to see if it is ever in your neck of the woods.