Mukilteo’s Hills Look Steep

As the ferry was crossing towards Mukilteo, I was looking towards the lighthouse to see if it was worth a shot.  What I hadn’t realized was that some of the roads in Mukilteo seem pretty steep which shouldn’t be such a surprise given how hilly it is around there.  When aligned with the roads and shooting with the long lens, the compression made them look particularly steep, but I suspect they are not as bad as they look here.

328Jet Departure Only

A period of some pretty frequent visits to Seattle of 328Jets was nice to have.  Unfortunately, I was unable to be there when one of them was arriving.  Not chance to get the landing configuration but I was there by the time they were heading back out.  I wasn’t sure of how quickly they would be off the ground given that the 328 is able to handle some short fields.  As it turned out, they ran a reasonable distance and I was happy with the results.

Deer in the Royal Park

Richmond Park is famous for its deer.  You don’t have to go far in the park to come across some.  They seem pretty relaxed despite the presence of so many people nearby but I imagine it is a long time since anyone in the park was hunting them, so they don’t see us as a threat anymore.  As we went for a stroll, we came across a few groups of deer busy munching away.  Occasionally, they would look at us as we got closer but their lack of interest most of the time was obvious!

I Guess More Harriers Were in My Future

During the trip with Mark, we made the excursion to El Centro to catch the Harriers.  As I wrote in the post about those airframes, I thought it might be the last time I got to photograph Harriers.  Turns out, I was a bit premature.  With an exercise planned up in Alaska, the Marines were planning on taking ten jets to participate.  Their routing staged through Boeing Field.  The plan was for two sets of five jets to come across.

The moves were not entirely smooth.  Bad weather in our area was not ideal, tanker support was not working to plan and then you get the occasional jet that breaks.  However, we did get most of the jets showing up.  The first bunch showed up at Boeing Field from the north.  They were strung out on the approach but, from certain angles, you could see all of them stretched out over Seattle.  One by one they came in and reminded us how loud a Harrier is in STOVL mode.

There was due to be the second wave later in the day, but they ended up showing up on another day.  We had departures of the initial jets as well.  When they called up for departure, they asked the tower to line up on both runways.  This would have put them up at the north and away from where I was.  This was a bad development.  Fortunately, the tower informed them that they were too heavy for the short runway’s surface rating.

Instead, they lined up on the main runway spread out in a line.  They powered up simultaneously and released brakes at the same time.  The northern jet had no problem getting airborne in such a short space because of the STOVL capabilities of the Harrier.  The jets further back were also airborne quickly and accelerating rapidly while still over the field.  They climbed out in a loose line which meant assembling the formation would be a simple process.  What a great thing to see one more time.  Is that it for me and Harriers????

A Detailed Tour of a Clipper Race Boat

In a previous post I discussed the arrival of the Clipper Round the World boats in Seattle.  In that post, I mentioned that I got it wrong about being able to go on the boats to have a look around.  However, I did end up having a second go at looking at the boats and this time, it was a success.  The boat that was open for visitors was named Qingdao.  One of the crew showed us around both up on deck and down below.

When looking at these boats from the outside, they look like pretty sizable craft.  However, when you get down below, it is instantly apparent how limited the space is.  There is a lot of space taken up by the sail locker and the engine room.  Then you have a small galley area and the navigation station.  There are two small heads – no showers, though.  The remainder of the space is for the crew of 22 to squeeze in to.  This is not a luxurious excursion.  (We were told that, had we been on a couple of days before, the odor would still have been pretty ripe.  A long time at sea does not make for great hygiene!)

I had decided to take my widest zoom for the visit and I was glad I did that.  Everything was so confined, it really needed a wide angle to get any shots.  Even maneuvering through the hull while docked required a bit of effort.  I can’t imagine what it would be like when heeled over at 45 degrees while punching through a Southern Ocean storm.  They say you learn a lot about yourself in these races and I don’t doubt it.  I’d probably learn I am not cut out for serious adventures!

The galley was interesting.  Aside from the stabilized hob, all of the cans were stripped of labels and marked up with their contents.  Everything gets wet so labels fall off rapidly.  You need to prep to make sure you can identify the food.  The cans do corrode in the salt water.  Apparently, it’s not unknown to open a can and find nothing inside it because it has already leaked away from a corrosion hole!

The boats were really interesting to see.  The crews spend a lot to be on this voyage and they are definitely getting an adventure.  I hope they have fun ultimately and I like to see what they have done but I won’t be signing up anytime soon.

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.

Reinforcement Around the Freight Door

While Alaska Air Cargo has been struggling to add its new 737-800BCFs to the fleet, the -7000 freighters have continued to provide service to them.  I have shot these a few different times, but I got some more recent shots of one of the jets at a time when the sun angle was such that the surface of the fuselage was illuminated in such a way to show up the textures of the construction.  The conversion to freighter involves a lot of reinforcement around the aperture for the freight door.  The light really highlighted this reinforcement well.

Caterpillars on the Branches

I was walking along the street in Nanaimo and noticed a bush with branches that had what looked like spider webs on them.  I stopped to take a look and realized that it wasn’t spiders, it was caterpillars.  (I should note at this point, that there are people who read this blog that will already be turning off because they do not enjoy my posts that involve bugs!)  I don’t know much about caterpillars, but I am assuming that this was a nest of some sort for the next generation of caterpillars.  However, there were plenty of them on the outside crawling around.  It was quite a strange looking sight.  I couldn’t resist getting some shots of them before heading on.

Son of Ares Catches Me Out (Almost)

I had made a trip early one Sunday to Boeing Field to catch a couple of departures.  One of them had left earlier than expected and was gone when I got there.  While waiting for the next one, I was sitting in the car on a Zoom call with my family.  I was parked somewhere where it was possible to make out through the fence what was the other side, but it had plastic filaments in the fencing which obscured things to some extent.

I was busy chatting away when I saw the shape of something taxiing across the runway from the FBO which looked both unusual and also familiar.  I jumped out of the car, grabbed the camera and climbed the ladder to grab a shot as the Scaled Composites 401 finished crossing the runway and turned away up the taxiway.  I last saw one of these aircraft at their home base of Mojave in California.

While I had missed the crossing shot of the runway, the flow was to the south so I knew the jet would be coming back my way when it took off.  I was bothered that I was far enough down the runway that it could well be quite high by the time it reached me.  It got to the hold point on taxiway bravo and then sat there for ages.  The tension was painful.

Finally, it lined up and started its takeoff run.  Sure enough, it was quickly off the ground, but good news was to follow.  The pilot had decided to keep it nice and low – possibly to give a good view to the people over at the FBO that were watching the departure.  That meant I got a nice landlocked image as it came by before climbing out swiftly.  What a great surprise.