The ferry ride from Swartz Bay back to Tsawwassen was on a day that wasn’t particularly nice weather wise. And we emerged in to the open water from the islands, I was wandering about with the camera. The view to the mountains north of Vancouver opened up and they were in clear sunlight with the snow reflecting the warm winter light beautifully. It was a distant shot but a panorama seemed to be a good idea. Everyone on the boat seemed to be taking notice and plenty of people came out on deck to take their photos.
Winter weather in Washington can be a bit unpredictable. It can be cloudy and rainy in one spot while the sun is peaking out a short distance away. Shoreline provided just such variety. While it had been quite gloomy, as we walked around the headland near the lighthouse, the view to the south over Puget Sound suddenly cleared up nicely and there was a lovely sunny view. Time to grab some pictures before the sun disappears again (which it did before too long!).
From the top of the Space Needle, you can survey a lot of what goes on in Seattle. Cruise ships berth along the waterfront near the Alaskan Way Viaduct but they also come in further up the shore. Two ships were in port up there while we were up the Needle. I had got a shot of them at one point shortly after getting to the top but, as I walked around, the sun popped out and bathed them in light while all around them was still in shade. Now they really popped so I figured another shot was in order before the sun vanished – which it did a minute later.
This example is not going to get me to the sun from Seattle. It will head to Europe before it starts transporting passengers. I saw it during test flying activities as it flew approaches to Paine Field. The sun was out but the skies were stormy so it made quite a dramatic sight as it bashed the pattern at Everett.
They even were kind enough to fly a missed approach the first time to get a different view of the jet. Then it was around the pattern and back in for a second approach, this time landing. The dark sky background was only in the direction of the approach so the roll out shots were far less dramatic.
It’s been a while since I posted my pictures from the eclipse. This is a post of a sun picture taken on that day but I took this before the eclipse got started. I was setting up the camera and the filters and I needed to get some shots to check everything was okay before things started to happen. At the time, I noticed the sunspots on the shot but I was distracted by other things after them and forgot. However, it was impressive to be able to see features on the surface of the sun as I was taking a shot.
A convenient departure of a Dreamlifter from Everett meant I could get up there to see it go. The day was very nice so I was optimistic of getting a reasonable shot of it. I saw it taxi out at the far end of the field (that extra tall fin the 400LCF has makes it easy to see over the ridges in the field) and it turned towards me and accelerated.
The light was shining off the fuselage and it rotated as it came over the ridge towards me. Just as it got airborne and into a nice position, it found the one shadow that was anywhere in Snohomish county at that point. It isn’t awful but it was pretty bloody disappointing. As it climbed away, back into the sun of course!
I have shot at quite a few Red Flags both on and off base. On base of get such good access that you don’t see anything to make you think that the participants are camera shy. However, off base I have become rather suspicious of the Growler community. When you see something strange once, you figure it must be an oddity but, when you see something repeat, you start to think there is a pattern. When you tell your friend that something happens and then they do it again for both of you, you really think something is going on.
The E/A-18G Growlers fly in a way that makes me think they are trying to be difficult for photographers. (Either that or they think they are doing something to help but are actually making it worse!). During arrivals the Growlers often go left but, when they go right, they either fly incredibly tight patterns or they go so long as to make all shots rather dull. However, it is on departure that I have got most suspicious. When they come off the left runway heading towards us, they seem to sidestep to the left and then straighten up after a while. This puts them almost directly overhead the awaiting photographers. You get an underside shot but nothing more. Not a great shot but you start wondering what you are missing from the profile or above that might be more interesting. I am probably paranoid but I do see a pattern developing.
The Growlers use the same jamming pod that came from the Prowler. A new jamming system is in development but, for now, the ALQ-99 is the system that they have and the pods are the same pods. The jamming power comes from a generator that is powered by a turbine mounted on the front of the pod. As the jet flies along, the turbine spins in the airflow and provides the “juice” to power the electronics within. Even at relatively low speeds the turbine gets rotating. However, when the jets come in to land, if they have a centerline pod, the turbine is not moving. I don’t know whether the blockage from the nose gear doors is enough to stop it or whether it is deliberately switched off. However, the turbine blades are feathered and it is not moving. Compare the wing mounted pods and the motion and blade angle is clearly different.
The weather over Sonoma was absolutely gorgeous when we were out on the photo flight (when isn’t the weather great in Sonoma?). While we were orbiting over the county awaiting the second aircraft to come up to shoot, I was looking out towards the coast. There was a lot more cloud that was hanging over the coastline with the sun still above it. With the door open and a long lens on one body, I figured I should get a few shots of the coastline. It looked gorgeous from where we were.
Our journey home came through Kansas City. We got the airport in plenty of time so were hanging around waiting for our flight. The clouds were working their way across the sky and the beams of light that cut out of them at times could be quite attractive. An airport ramp is not the best foreground for that type of shot but you don’t ignore something because of that. Here are a couple of examples of how it looked.