Tag Archives: travel

Night Shoot at Pima

One of the special parts of the trip to Arizona was that Mark and I got invited along by our friend Joe to a night shoot at the Pima Air and Space Museum.  I had seen some images from previous night shoots and the idea of photographing the many interesting airframes there in the dark intrigued me.  The museum is excellent and well worth a visit, but it can be hotter than hell there and the light can be quite harsh, so this was a great alternative to try.

When I was a student, I used to do quite a lot of night photography.  In the days of film, you played a lot more of a guessing game as to how things were working out.  Also, film suffered from what was known as reciprocity failure so you could really extend the exposure in low light without necessarily ruining things.  Digital is a lot more linear and also gives you the chance to see how things are coming out and have another go.

A lot of the attendees had done this more than once and had come equipped with a variety of tools to play with.  Lights on stands, wands of different LEDs, huge flashlights etc.  Plenty of things to work with.  I had brought some tools along but was definitely keeping it simpler.  Joe offered us some lights to work with but, since this was a new effort for me, I decided to keep it simple and try to get one approach worked out.

I had a tripod so I could leave the camera in place and then a couple of strobes to play around with.  I had to make some set up adjustments first.  Take off IS from the camera since it can wander over long exposures and make things blurry.  Second, put the strobes on manual power and experiment with how well they do illuminating things.  What I didn’t do but should have with hindsight was to go to bulb mode rather than 30 seconds on the shutter.  At some points with the larger airframes, I was very frantic in trying to get everything lit in the 30 seconds.  It proved to be rather energetic, and I was pretty pooped by the end of it.

I would open the shutter and then move around the airframe illuminating it with pops of the strobe.  I quickly learned to shield the strobe, so it didn’t illuminate me and add me in to the shot.  I also came to realize how the larger areas when I stood back a bit needed more light to compensate.  All of this is logical but not something I thought of before trying it.  More research/planning would have been a good idea.  I was also surprised how my shadow could show up in some shots when I have no idea how it would have got there.

I did photograph some of the more famous assets in the collection – how can you ignore a B-58 or a B-36 – but I did also take time for others that were just of more interest to me.  The size of the place meant you could easily not come across one of the other photographers for a while.  They were helpful in pointing out the hazards of guy wires.  Some of the larger planes have wires to stabilize them and these are basically invisible in the dark.  If you are running around popping off flashes, you could easily collide with something unyielding.  Fortunately, nothing like this for me but maybe some luck in that?

Would I do it again?  Absolutely!  It was very interesting and got some nice results.  It also taught me a lot about what I wasn’t doing right and would set me up for a few ideas of how to do things differently in the future.  I think a large flashlight would be an addition I would make, and I would definitely use the cable release and bulb mode.  My thanks to Joe for taking us along and to the team for letting us join in. 

The Ferry to Gabriola

Take me to a place by the sea and I will be checking out the ferries.  BC Ferries provides the services in British Columbia and there is a short crossing between Nanaimo and Gabriola Island that has a pretty frequent service.  I understand the Island Class ferries are the ones that operate this service and they come into Nanaimo alongside the waterfront where we were walking after arriving. 

During the peak times, there were two ferries running back and forth but, in the evening, I assume the demand is lower and one of the ferries was moored up.  We got a good look at it as we came back from our dinner on a little ferry.  I think these ferries have been designed for incorporation of electrical propulsion in due course.

Repairing the Beach

There had been some pretty stormy weather shortly before we got to the UK.  When we went to Southsea to pick up mum from the hovercraft, there was some work underway on the beach that sits below the terminal.  By the look of things, the storm had moved the shingle around quite a bit and they needed to regrade the shoreline.  Someone was busy working on it while the hovercraft was on its way over.  They had to get out of the way before it arrived, of course, but they seemed to have done a decent job of it in plenty of time.  I wonder how often they need to rework the shore to keep things where they need to be for the service.

Mix of F-16s in Tucson

Every once in a while, the Air Force moves airframes around between units.  One may have exhausted the limits on their airframes and they need to be retired or it could just be a balancing exercise to spread the usage types across the larger fleet.  The Arizona Air National Guard unit at Tucson has recently received a bunch of different (calling them new would be a stretch) jets that have come from various units around the country.  They will be marked up with the AZ tail code in due course but, at the time of my visit, they were still carrying markings from a bunch of other bases.  Getting a diverse range of tails before they all became the same was the challenge while there.  Here are some of the results.

River Test at a High Level

The River Test really should be considered multiple rivers because it splits and rejoins as it moves across the Hampshire countryside.  You can cross all sorts of minor streams, but you do also get some larger crossings where the river is well defined.  One of these is the road to Longstock.  There is a weir across the river just upstream of the bridge and it seemed to be flowing pretty well when we were there.  We had experienced lovely weather, but I guess quite a bit of rain had preceded our arrival.  There was a single swan on the river, and it seemed to be making some effort to move upstream.

Richmond Park Scenery

I last visited Richmond Park in 1990 in my last year at university.  I went there with a couple of friends for a day out in the sun.  For some reason, I have not been back since.  Why we never went there, I do not know.  Nancy was quite perplexed to discover such an amazing park that she never got to see when we lived in the UK.  Definitely something we missed out on.

Anyway, be that as it may, we did make the time to have a trip to the park when we went up to Richmond during our UK visit so we could meet up with family and see some other parts of the area.  I really had no idea about the layout of the park.  It was way hillier than I remembered.  We drove through the park for a while and then found a spot to leave the car and take a stroll. 

It is a gorgeous place to wander.  We didn’t have a huge amount of time so weren’t going to walk a long way but we did have a nice stretch of the legs.  Plenty of deer to see in the park but they will get their own post.  Being spring, the trees were starting to look full.  While plenty of people were around, you felt like you were alone quite quickly.  We passed an enclosure that was designed to give the deer their own space.  They didn’t seem too interested in it and were quite comfortable everywhere else!  Our route back brought us to a garden as part of Pembroke Lodge.  This was also the spot with a café which was far more important.  Next time we are back, it would be good to explore the park more extensively.

Another Robin Comes Out to Play

We had the robins visiting the garden when we stayed in Stockbridge, but they were rather reticent about being around when we were there.  They tended to disappear whenever they realized we were watching them.  During our visit to Hinton Ampner, we came across a rather more bold member of the family.  This one was sitting in a hedge right next to us when I realized it was there.  I got a shot before it moved but it only repositioned to a perch close to us.  A brave little fella and very cute.

Luke F-35s

I have never photographed at Luke AFB before.  Mark and I spent a few hours there as part of our trip.  The base is home to the F-35A training unit and a variety of foreign F-35A training too.  Plenty of USAF F-35s were in the pattern that day.  I got loads of shots of the based jets but, with the current style of low observability finishes, the jets did look very alike.  Yes, there were crew names and unit badges to be seen but, sadly, one Luke F-35 looks a lot like another Luke F-35.

Family of Blackbirds Out for a Meal

A family of blackbirds was a regular sight in the front garden of the place we rented in Stockbridge.  They were happily finding whatever they could eat in the grass.  There appeared to be two parents with some youngsters in tow.  The chicks were now pretty fully grown and seemed to have their feathers, but they were less interested in finding food than they were in having their parents do the work.  I will let those of you with children make your own comments.  The chicks actually looked a little larger than their parents, so they are probably eating well.