The heat haze was a bit of a problem on this day so I was hoping that they would roll out a bit long to get into usable range. They couldn’t have been more obliging. It turned out to be a US Marine Corps KC-130J. They didn’t exit early for the taxiway even though they could have done so with ease but instead rolled all the way to near me before exiting and taxiing back to the ramp in the other direction. This was very kind of them. I got them close enough in to have little in the way of heat haze and to get a decent look at them.
There was a meeting of the IPMS northwest branch at the Museum of Flight recently. My friend Jim had given me a heads up about it taking place and, with a day free, I figured I would pop along. The display as a whole gets its own post but this one was about my experimenting with focus stacking. I went to this a previous year and took some focus stacking shots handheld to see how it would go. This time I went prepared and took a bunch of shots.
I took a tripod and my macro f/2.8 lens to try and get detailed shots while isolating the background. There were lots of models on display, some of which were really good. However, they didn’t all make good subjects since many were displayed in amongst lots of other models. I picked the ones I liked as a wandered around and them went back to shoot them. Many of the stacks worked out just fine and I include an example or two of what worked well. However, some of them just confused the software.
I use Photoshop to do my focus stacks. However, on one of the shots that I really wanted to work well – the FW190 which had a diorama – things didn’t work well. I decided to Google other software solutions and came up with two other applications for focus stacking. I downloaded trials of both but neither managed to do a good job of it. I guess this combination of shots just made it too hard for the software to make it work. I can see the rear fuselage markings of the FW190 showing through the wing of the aircraft. Maybe this is a function of the narrow depth of field of the f/2.8 shots. The wing gets blurred out a lot when the rear fuselage is in focus and it decides to take that area as the one to give preference too.
All of this is to say, I have found a new aspect of this technique that needs further investigation. My earlier experiments with focus stacking probably made it easier on the software. I have now started to make it a bit harder. Maybe I need to control the aperture to get things to behave the way I want. That might have to be tailored to make sure I don’t get the background coming in to focus too much since that separation is something that I want to preserve. If you have experience with this, I would welcome advice.
I was at the Museum of Flight for the IPMS exhibit but, while I was visiting, I figured it would be churlish not to take a picture of the M-21 that dominates the main hall. It is actually a bit difficult to photograph and there is a lot of contrast with the background and it is always busy so a bit cluttered. I knew it wasn’t going to be a great shot but decided to crop tighter on the airframe and shoot bracketed exposures and maybe go with an HDR process. It isn’t great but it came out better than I had expected.
Boeing Field gets the occasional military visitors and you never know what might show up. I glanced up and saw a pair of T-38s downwind for arrival. They came in with about a minute of spacing between them. The tail codes showed them to be Beale jets. They headed to the FBO at Modern and were soon being refueled. The canopies stayed up so they may have been heading out again a while later but I had to move on so I didn’t get to see them depart.
The Museum of Flight has been holding a special exhibit this summer for the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing. The museum has a number of interesting Apollo exhibits as it is but these were combined with some extra items specific to Apollo 11 and its crew. The centerpiece of this was the command module, Columbia. We actually waited until near the end of the exhibit before we visited but it was well worth the trip. Columbia was in the center of the final room of the tour and you could walk all around it.
The hatch was separate from Columbia and set up so that you could look through the window of the hatch at the command module itself. This was a nice idea but, since the exhibit was so popular, getting a moment when there wasn’t someone in the shot was unrealistic. Other items on display included gloves worn on the surface by Buzz Aldrin (which had various checklists embroidered on patches attached to the gloves), a NASA jumpsuit worn by Neil but used for chores on his farm in later years and his Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
The display also included the recovered engines normally on display but with the addition of a part from one of the Apollo 11 F1 engines recovered by Jeff Bezos’s team. The local Boeing connection to the project was well represented and a lunar rover was on display to highlight this too. Even at the end of the exhibits time, there was a long line of people waiting to get in. We had an early slot which turned out to be a good thing. By the time we got out, the line had grown substantially.
The grounding of the 737 Max fleet has resulted in plenty of parked jets. I have shown them at Paine Field but Boeing Field seems to be a big storage location. The employee parking lot has been turned into a 737 parking lot. I have seen jets over there before either awaiting engines or from customers that can’t pay but nothing on this scale.
I took a trip to South Park so I could walk across the bridge and get a good view down into the storage area. I made a rough count and think there were probably over fifty jets stored there. While Boeing cut the production rate after the grounding, they only took it down to 42 a month so jets are still coming out at a prodigious rate. This area is full so, aside from Paine Field and Renton, I believe they are flying them to other storage locations.
I was walking around the new Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Tukwila after the opening ceremonies had concluded. A few things took off while I was there but nothing caught my eye. Then I heard another jet get airborne. I looked around and saw a CRJ climbing out. However, this was no normal CRJ. It was one of the Northrop Grumman radar test beds. These have replaced the BAC1-11 jets that are now all retired. I got the camera up late (settings weren’t ideal either) and shot it as it disappeared into the distance. I had no idea it was on the ground (and would have gone looking for it had I known). Oh well, win some lose some!
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has been under construction for a while including the restoration of the B-52G, Midnight Express that spent many years outside at Paine Field. The opening ceremony took place over the Memorial Day weekend and I went along to check it out. I wrote an article for GAR about the ceremony and, if you want to read that, you can see it here.