The appearance of UW in the national championship game meant a lot of people flying from Seattle to Houston. That included the band and I believe they were the ones to fly in an Omni Air International 777-200ER. We get plenty of Omni’s 767s at Boeing Field but a 777 was an interesting change. I hung around quite a while one Saturday waiting for them to depart. As with so many charters, they went late. (Late enough to mean I got stuck on I-5 heading back for lunch when a protest closed down the interstate.) I took a chance by going with a long prime rather than a zoom and, fortunately, they rotated just early enough for that to work out for me. I was rather pleased with the tighter shots of them getting airborne.
An early morning flight was needed for a trip that I needed to take for work, and it was taking me south. The departure time was before the sun was due up, but I hoped that I might get a view of Mt Rainier (also known as Tahoma) as we headed south so I had selected a seat on the left side of the plane. The plan was a good one even if the quality of the window of the jet was not. I have not seen such a scruffy window on an airliner in ages! Some random repositioning of the lens to try different parts of the window resulted in some reasonable shots. Nothing special but nice to get when you have to be up early anyway.
For some reason, I recently came back to an old photo I took of a Delta Connection CRJ900 as it climbed out of O’Hare. It had climbed right by the moon as it was rising in the eastern sky towards the end of the day. I had liked the photo at the time but now I was thinking about how to do a better job of editing it. Now I have been using the masking tools in Lightroom a lot more, I figured I could take different approaches for the jet and the background. The results were a lot better than my original efforts and I quite like how it now looks.
A cold but sunny winter’s day at the locks in Ballard did not make me think that being on the water would be fun. However, someone clearly had a different idea. While I was walking around looking at the boats and the wildlife, a guy was out sculling in his boat. He came quite close to the overflow from the sluice gates and had to work to position himself with the flow and turbulence from the water as it headed towards the sound. It seemed like a very cold time to be out there, but I guess he was enjoying himself?
Airport roads can sometimes throw up interesting surprises. I was driving around Paine Field one weekend and came upon this fuselage sitting on a trailer. I had a chat with the guys loading it up. It is a Lockheed 12 and was heading to Minnesota for restoration to flight. They suggested a lot of work was needed and it would be a while before it was flying again. However, I was just taken to see it sitting beside the road as I happened to pass by.
The snow geese are famous visitors to Skagit County in the winter, but they are not the only large birds to show up in big numbers. The trumpeter swans also appear and, while they might not be in the large flocks of the snow geese, there are still loads of them around. They also don’t seem to mind being close to the humans. I had seen a bunch of them as I was driving around and pulled off the road at one point as so many were in the adjacent field.
The fun thing about photographing swans is getting them taking off. Two or more of them flying at low level as they build speed is pretty cool. You might normally wait for ages for this to happen but, with so many of them around, it seems as if there is almost always a take off occurring. Consequently, while some might seem distant, you know another will be closer in before too long. (I do like the head on look but that does require getting to more inaccessible spots usually.)
After shooting at the same spot for a while, I continued south. I was getting back to an area south of Mt Vernon when I came across even more swans sitting right by a side road. They were ridiculously close to the road and, when I pulled up and stopped, they did start to drift away a little. I guess even swans can be slightly circumspect when it comes to humans arriving. However, they quickly got used to me and I got some shots of them too!
Not a great shot, in this case, but one that means something to me. When I went to the Abbotsford Air Show, there was a Hawk 115 in the static display. It was in an interesting color scheme but the lighting was a bit tough and it was surrounded be people. The reason I liked it was that I was involved in the Hawk 115 program when it was first underway. I left the company before the first jets were completed so I never actually saw one. This might actually have been my first encounter with one. Since they have been in service for nearly 25 years, they are probably nearing the end of their time so I did leave it a little late. It looks in better shape than me!
There were many animals I was looking forward to seeing when we visited Kenya and Tanzania. One that I hadn’t thought much about and, if I had, it wouldn’t have been positive, was the hyena. They have a pretty bad image since they clean up all of the debris that is left and will also do their own hunting in the pack. While this is no different to many other animals, they seem to have been given a more negative image.
When we arrived, we immediately saw loads of hyena. They were out walking alone and moving in groups. They are not the sleekest looking animal, but I found myself surprisingly interested in them. When one would come into view carrying a trophy from a carcass, I would see this as a positive when others were focusing on the negative. We saw one hyena limping across the road with an obvious wound on its leg. This reminded me of just how perilous life is for everything in the wild.
Later in the trip we came across a den for the pack. One hyena was walking back in with a wildebeest leg in its mouth. This was going to feed some hungry mouths. There were some cubs in the den, and we could hear them before we could see them. They were fighting with each other between sessions suckling from their mother. It was really fun to watch this whole pack of animals in their social setting.
I’m not expecting anyone reading this to suddenly love hyenas. Some of the pictures will probably reinforce thoughts that yo might already have had about them. However, I will say that I saw them in a very different light over the time I was in Kenya and Tanzania, and I will never think of them the same way again.
UW had some success with their football program this year which meant a few charter flights took place. Some of the charters that they arranged were with New Pacific Airlines. This is a relatively new airline that originally was going to be Northern Pacific until BNSF Railway, which owns that name, objected to their using it. Their plan has been to operate transpacific flights via Anchorage in a similar model to that of Icelandair. Things have got off to a slow start. They are doing some domestic US flying but those routes have been erratic too. The fleet is a pair (I think) of Boeing 757-200s so hardly cutting edge. I think they might not last long.
Consequently, when their jet showed up at BFI, I figured I should definitely get photos since I might not get the chance again. Winter conditions are not going to be the greatest, but I was able to get a few that I was pretty happy with. I don’t wish the airline any harm at all, but they don’t seem to be giving off the vibe of a great success story. Let’s hope the charters can fill in until they get something more solid going.
As we were walking around the winery in Kelowna, we had a lovely view to the south across the lake and to the hills beyond. The weather was quite clear but there was same haze in the air. This did a nice job of distinguishing between the hills based on their distance with the farthest hills getting obscured the most. With the warm winter light on this haze, it made for a very attractive view of the terrain in the distance, and I grabbed a longer lens for a quick shot.