Exotics Starts Its 2022 Season

After two aborts due to bad weather forecasts, the Exotics@RTC season finally kicked off in April.  The first event of the year is always a popular one with both those displaying their cars and those coming out to see them.  I was keen to be there and didn’t have a conflict so got ready early and headed down to Redmond.  It was a full showing.  They had the center of the shopping mall filled with cars as is the case for the special days – normal weekends are confined to the parking lots – and it was interesting to see what cars had a lot of attention.

Some of the more special cars are often there and don’t get so many people looking at them.  I find it strange that a Ferrari F40 elicits so little attention.  Even the Senna wasn’t getting too many people around it.  With so many exotic vehicles, I guess there is plenty to look at.  A few of the cars I saw on this day will get their own posts because they deserve it.  However, this will be a selection of the views and cars available that day.

Puppy Spot SAAB

The Puppy Spot SAAB 340 is a regular visitor to the Pacific Northwest but I had never shot it.  As I was leaving SEA after the arrival facility trial, I saw that the SAAB was due in to Boeing Field in less than half an hour.  It is not far between the two places but arrival time was going to put the sun right on the nose.  No good options to shoot it – assuming the sun stayed out.  I headed for Ruby Chow Park and was there in time to get it arriving.  Light wasn’t great but I did finally check it off the list.  Not sure what the story with the name is but I think they transport puppies across the country.  Must be a lot of cash in the puppy business if air freighting them around the country is cost effective.

I Guess The Lake Level Is Down Now

Lake Chelan is a really deep body of water.  According to some charts I saw, it is about 1,600’ to the very bottom at its deepest point.  The water level does seem to fluctuate a bit.  When I was walking along the shore at the resort, there were some swimming rafts.  One was in the water but another was up on the land.  I then realized that the jetties were a long way above the water surface and, what I thought was just a sandy area, was actually a beach.

I assume the run off from the winter melts results in the water level increasing.  There is also a power plant at the end of the lake so that can control the water level.  At this early time of year, there is no pressure to have the water too high.  You can easily see where it is supposed to be in peak season, though.  Given how big a lake it is, that is quite a lot of water to bring the level up that much.  I doubt I shall be back in the summer but maybe I will see it as it is at its peak at some point.

A Turbo DC-3 From Oshkosh

My cloudy Sunday afternoon included a bonus visitor.  I saw that a turbo DC-3 was heading this way.  Initial estimates had it coming in quite late but they were making good progress and would be in while I was there.  The turboprop conversion means a better cruise speed on a long cross country and, since this flight was direct from Oshkosh, it was a pretty long trip.

I have shot plenty of DC-3s over the years but I don’t think too many of them have been turbine conversions.  This was a nice surprise.  It didn’t hurt that the weather was steadily improving during the afternoon and a hint of sun was showing up by the time it arrived.  That hint wasn’t quite as strong as I would have liked but it was okay.  I also got to see it on the ramp when it parked up near the Museum of Flight.  I think Basler has a base at Oshkosh and, since they do the conversions of DC-3s to turbine power (along with a small fuselage stretch I think), I guess this must be one of theirs.

Red-Winged Blackbirds Are Fearless But Stupid

When we lived in Chicago, I first became acquainted with red-winged blackbirds.  The red flashes on the wings are fine but they have a terribly annoying call and they get quite aggressive when you get close to their nests.  There are a lot of them in Juanita Bay and I have to say that they are clearly not the sharpest tools in the shed.  They build their nests very close to the heavily trafficked areas where people walk.  There is a lot of space in the park but they build nests within feet of the boardwalk.

The result of this is that they are constantly freaking out about how close everyone is to their nest.  They fly up on to the boardwalk, swoop around the heads of people and land on the handrails right next to you.  It is quite fun to have them so close (except when they start with the calls) but you would think that they would have made life slightly easier for themselves by building a nest just slightly further away from everyone!

Do My Eyes Deceive Me?

Is what I am seeing real or is it a Mirage?  Sorry, pretty crummy pun usage.  When I was going to Nellis for Red Flag, one of the things I wanted to shoot was the Mirage F1s of Draken International.  It is a long time since I have seen an F1 – it was back when the Spanish Air Force was still flying them and they came to RIAT.  Now that Draken is using them for aggressor support services, I was keen to catch one or two of them.

As it turned out, I didn’t have to wait long.  The first time I drove up to the base, a pair of the Draken jets were recovering.  I grabbed the camera as they came in straight towards me before going over my head.  I had not set up the camera as I would have intended but just turned it on and pointed it at the jets.  Not bad luck and some of the shots came out okay.

I did get a couple more opportunities.  These were departures at the Speedway.  In one morning I had a pair of them heading out without flexing.  The camo pattern they have is the same but the colors vary.  The black and white scheme was interesting.  However, I prefer the brown scheme and the last two jets I got to shoot before I headed to the airport were F1s flexing north.  Top and tail the visit with Mirages!

DxO PureRAW2 Review

This post might look like it is an aviation post but, while the examples I am using are planes, this is about software.  A while back I downloaded the trial of DxO’s PureRAW product.  I liked it but didn’t see enough use for me to justify buying the full version.  I was also a little put off by the lack of integration with Lightroom.  You had to start in the app and then the output DNG file would be exported to Lightroom.

PureRAW2 has been released so I downloaded the trial version of that to see how well it works.  I was interested not only in the processing capabilities but also the new Lightroom integration.  Now it is possible to use the application as a plugin so I can go to a file in Lightroom and take it out to PureRAW before the DNG returns.

First, what is my experience of the integration?  It is okay but not great.  Taking the file out works well and you can get the processing sorted out.  The return to Lightroom is not ideal.  First, it gives you the option to either put the new files in a DxO folder or to go to a specific folder you choose.  I would rather it went to the same folder as the original.  That is not available.  The second issue is that the re-import process takes a very long time.  It was a couple of minutes after closing the file that it showed up in Lightroom.  No idea why it takes so long.

Now for the processing.  It is very impressive.  I was working with some shots from very dark conditions with B-1s taking off.  The exposure was heavily driven by the afterburner plumes so the rest of the airframe was very dark.  When I tried to bump up the exposure in Lightroom to get something that showed the bare outline of the fuselage, the noise was really bad.  The PureRAW DNG was so much cleaner and allowed me to move the exposure around quite a bit.  For an ISO 51,2000 shot, this was very impressive.  I think the processing is not massively changed from before but it clearly works well.

However, as before, the number of times I would want to use this are not many.  The full version is now $129 which is a step up from where the original was priced when I reviewed it.  I am still not sure I need it enough to justify the investment.  No question, though, that it is a significantly improved tool from the original version.

Views Of The Ramp At SEA

The new international arrivals facility at SEA includes a long walkway that overlooks the ramp between the A concourse and the South Satellite.  I was able to get a few shots as I wandered through there.  A Delta A220-100 was taxiing by when I got there and there was another shortly afterwards.  They are pretty common here these days.  Since A Concourse is heavily used by Delta, no surprise that a lot of their jets were present.  A few Southwest jets were over on B with some widebodies on the satellite.

Stalling On The Back Of A Duck

Watching the bird flying around Juanita Bay can bring out the aero guy in me.  I was watching some ducks flying across the water and coming in to land.  While the wings were working hard, it was also possible to see the feathers fluttering on the back of the duck just below the neck.  Clearly, the flow is separating in this location when they are maxing out the lift and the feather get disturbed by the separation.  Does anyone else but me care?  Probably not so maybe no one is even reading at this point!

Shooting Under The Arrivals

When the arrivals at Nellis on on the 03 runways, it means a trip to Cheyenne.  This is not the greatest part of the world to visit but it is a feature of a Nellis trip.  The sun angles were still quite low while I was there so I decided to try shooting from further around the road than I have done previously.  For the planes coming in on the left runway, I had a reasonable sun angle on them.  For planes on the right, they were coming right over my head.

I quite liked shooting like this.  The planes have a surprising amount of variety in their line up angles when this far from the threshold so, while they are all coming close to you, it is not a repeat of the same shot every time.  Each pilot takes a slightly different line and some variation in elevation too.  You get something akin to head on shots and then it is a case of rapidly swiveling around to get a shot from behind.

There is a lot of fencing and trees along that part of the road so getting a clean shot of everything is hard to achieve.  However, it is still possible to get something a little different.  With the light angles being less than ideal, rather than worry about shots that aren’t going to be very usable due to either glare or shadow, why not get something a little different.  It does require some quick adjustments and it can get a touch noisy but it is still fun to try something a little different.