The arrival of the balloon in Woodinville resulted in a previous post of the balloon flying in and another of the crew once the balloon was on the ground. I didn’t just shoot stills during the post landing time, though. I also decided to get a little video of the process of deflating the balloon. I was surprised how long it took but, while there is a large vent on the top of the balloon, once the envelope is lying on its side, the vent is no longer at the top and the air needs to be squeezed out. Here is the video I put together.
I posted about the hot air balloon over our town in this post. At the end of that post, the balloons was descending behind the trees for a landing and I was driving off to find them. It turned out that I had forgotten about a field between the rail tracks and the highway. I came around the corner and the ballon was on the ground but upright sitting in the field. It looked pretty incongruous.
I was clearly not the only person intrigued by this as a bunch of vehicles had gone down the normally quiet road alongside the field. The team was actually still burning as they maneuvered the ballon to the edge of the field to give themselves space to deflate it. Most people got bored with the view, but I decided to try and get photos and video of the whole sequence of deflating the balloon. The light was fading rapidly at this point.
A bunch of the crew grabbed the lines to the top of the balloon as the top vent was opened up. The balloon started to sag rapidly but, once they pulled it over to a certain point, the vent was too low to let the warm air out. Then they waited while another person gathered up the envelope and squeezed the remaining air out. Finally, it sagged to the ground and the final gathering up was quickly completed. By now it was quite dark, and I figured it was time to go home. I am not aware that they use the field to land normally. I wonder if this was a bit of an urgent landing as the light was fading fast and the low winds were limiting options.
Heading home on Sunday afternoon, I saw a hot air balloon overhead Woodinville. Passenger flights are a regular feature here but I was interested to see if I could work out where they were routing. I decided to follow them. I managed to get a couple of places where I could stop and get some shots as they flew above. One of these was not far from home. At this point, they seemed to be descending quickly. As they dropped below the trees, it was clear that they were landing. I wasn’t sure where this could be but jumped in the car again to see. Where they ended up. More to come…
The RAF has been taking delivery of its new maritime patrol aircraft. The retirement of the Nimrods left the RAF without a maritime aircraft for about a decade which is a strange choice to make. Finally, the P-8 Poseidon was ordered to reinstate that capability. They started coming off the line here in Seattle a while back. The fourth aircraft has been undergoing testing ahead of its delivery. It was returning from a test flight and was coming straight for our house. It is not unusual for planes heading to Boeing Field to come our way so I grabbed the camera and got a couple of shots as it flew by. It even turned slightly giving a slightly wing down view in one shot.
I went down into the middle of Woodinville to try and get pictures of the smoke from the wildfires. I ended up walking alongside the playing fields that are usually so busy with various sports. At this time, they were empty. What I had never noticed when driving by is that they have a sculpture by the fields of a baseball mitt. This bronze sculpture has the mitt and a bunch of rabbits. I am not sure what the meaning of the rabbits is but maybe it is designed to appeal to kids that are at the park to play their sports.
The wildfires that spread throughout the west in September resulted in some really bad air quality in our area. It was hard to see too far on some occasions and you definitely weren’t supposed to exercise if you could avoid it. At one point, I had thought a short bike ride might be okay but I didn’t do it and, when I went out to take some photos, I realized that even walking around the park was resulting in me feeling quite bad. Serious exertion would have been a bad idea.
I wanted to get some photos that demonstrated how bad the air quality was. However, I discovered that it was quite hard to compose a shot that showed how bad things are. You can take pictures that show distant objects as obscured by the smoke particles (although post processing techniques can reduce or increase the obscuration if you wish) but the difficulty with that is that a photo doesn’t give a good idea for the viewer of how far away things really are.
A wide lens makes even things that are close look distant and a telephoto lens brings distant things in close so you struggle to make the viewer perceive things the way you actually saw them at the time. I tried with these shots to have enough in the foreground to give some concept of how quickly the visibility fell off but I don’t think it really tells the story in the way that being there did. However, this is a record of what it was like and maybe I will come back to these pictures to remember.
I’m sure a bunch of my relatives will look away for this post. Maybe they aren’t fans of focus stacking but it could be the spiders that put them off. My macro lens has been out a lot during the pandemic since it provides something to photograph close at home that is a bit different. In fact, I have got so used to having it available, when I am out with a normal lens and come across something small and interesting, I am a bit frustrated to realize I can’t get a close up shot.
The problem with the lens is that it is not a very advanced one and the autofocus on it is pretty crap. When I am trying to hand hold the lens and something is moving and so am I, things get a little unpredictable. We had a few spider webs in the backyard with the owners sitting in the middle. The afternoon sun provided great illumination so I figured I should give it a go. I tend to go to manual focus and move to get the shot but with the breeze moving the web a lot, things are pretty tricky. This is what prompted me to try cheating.
I figured that focus stacking does a good job of increasing the area in focus and it manages to align images and make use of what is already in focus. If I can be straight on to the spider and stay reasonably still and roughly at the right focus point, let the web move towards and away from me and fire a bunch of shots off hand held. Ignore the ones that have nothing in focus and then let Photoshop work on the remainder.
It isn’t a perfect solution and some weird things happen at the edges of the frame but the center works out pretty well and you can crop in a little to address the edges. I was quite pleased with the outcome to be honest. It is making the best of a few bad elements but it did do quite well. You don’t get to control what is in focus for each shot so getting a complete set to work with is unlikely but overall, not a bad experiment.
I have shot endless hummingbird photos in the backyard at home. There was one shot that eluded me for a while. At a certain time of day, if a hummingbird is at the feeder, its shadow will fall on the post on the corner of our deck. I have seen it a few times when I didn’t have a camera handy and have had a camera when none came or the light moved around too quickly. However, I did finally get the combination I was after. I like the hint of the hummingbird without the actual bird in shot that it delivers.
On one day, I had an overflight from both of the initial 777X test airframes. The second one went straight over the house in less than ideal conditions but the first came just south of us if a little higher than is sometimes the case for aircraft heading back to Boeing Field. What I noticed in time was that the moon was on the flight path. Not much of a moon to be fair but the moon nonetheless. It crossed it quite nicely!
How many different animals have I photographed in our backyard? In a time when we haven’t been able to travel to see much, having stuff come to us has been quite a benefit. This addition was a total surprise. I had taken the sun shade out from where it was stored beside the house and, when I put it up, I realized it was pretty grubby and needed a clean. I moved it to an open patch of grass and washed it down. When I got back to the table, I realized it had been housing a frog that had dropped on to the table when I opened the shade up. I grabbed the camera quickly before it disappeared. It actually hung around longer than I expected and I even tried to start focus stacking but it then got a little mobile and I gave up on that.
It leapt off the table and on to the grass where I got a couple more shots before letting it head off to wherever it felt like taking cover. The green and gold colors were really pretty vibrant. I am not a frog expert but I did Google it. I think there is a fair chance that it is a Pacific Tree Frog. Anyone know anything better?