Author Archives: Rob

Russell Waterfall In Burien

I was watching a video on YouTube of some people cycling around Seattle and they made a stop in Burien that I found curious.  It was called the Russell Waterfall.  This is just around the corner from somewhere I was visiting so I decided to pass by and take a look.  I don’t know the “why” about this installation but there is a baby grand piano in the front yard that is a waterfall.  It is just sitting there in front of a normal neighborhood house.  I have seen pictures with the piano being a different color so I don’t know if it gets refurbished periodically or if the piano is replaced.  It is a strange thing to find on a regular street, though.

Stealing A Composite Idea

Quite a while back, I saw a shot that someone had composited of a Typhoon display over an airfield where they had the jet throughout its routine to show its route through the sky.  I liked the idea and, while it was totally different, it got me thinking when I was up at Heritage Flight Museum.  They had the Skyraider on the ramp but not flying.  It was ready to go but hadn’t yet been signed off.

However, they did do an engine run for the visitors and unfolded and folded the wings a few times.  Having got some basic shots, the idea of the Typhoon display popped in to my head so I shot a sequence of shots of the wings as they folded and unfolded.  I took way more than actually was a good idea.  I imported them all in to Photoshop as layers and then hid all of them except one and then progressively added some back to get the wings in different positions.  If I had used them all it would have just been a blur of wings.

With the ones I wanted selected, I changed the blend mode for all but the base layer to Darken and that meant the dark wing elements overlaid anything brighter behind them.  The result was a composite with multiple wing positions all showing at once.  I think it came out quite well.  I thought I might have issues with hiding things I didn’t want to or having to much movement between shots but that wasn’t a problem in the end.

Otter Blowing Bubbles

While looking at some shots of this otter swimming in Juanita Bay, I noticed it was breathing out through its nose and creating some bubbles in the water ahead of it.  It seemed like a silly thing but of course will happen all of the time when they are swimming.  However, I like the idea that it is being silly and doing it on purpose so let’s go with that instead.

Arrival Of Doc

I have only seen one flying B-29 prior to this year.  That is Fifi from the Commemorative Air Force which I got to see in DuPage IL many years back and also saw overflying Oshkosh.  A second B-29 was returned to flight about four years ago – Doc.  It is based in Wichita KS and has been on a tour which included a visit to the Pacific Northwest.  Its previous stop was in Spokane and then it came to Boeing Field for a week.

I saw when it was due in to BFI and got down there in time for the planned arrival from the other side of the state.  It was a little later than I expected but that was fine.  It was easy to track as it came across the mountains and then across the city and on to the approach for Boeing Field.  The light was pretty good on it as it came down final approach although the reflective nature of the polished aluminum fuselage meant it took on a greenish hue as it flew over the grass inside the perimeter fence.

Shortly after arrival, they crewed up to make a press trip.  Sadly, I was not part of this but it did give me a chance to get some more shots.  The winds meant they were doing a southerly departure and I didn’t anticipate them climbing too fast when babying these old engines.  They certainly didn’t climb aggressively!  They kept it nice and low while cleaning up the gear and were still very low when they came past me.  It was ideal.  They then put in a surprisingly aggressive turn downwind where they kept it low enough that they were behind the trees.

I decided to try for something different for the next return.  I headed to the end of the runway to try for some shots directly underneath the plane.  It is a tricky place to shoot with buildings in the way for a while and more power lines than is ideal.  Still, it provides a cool perspective and something a little different.  I was very pleased with the success rate of the shots because, while you are shooting at a wide angle, there is a lot of relative motion.

Once on the ground, the plane was going nowhere for a few days until the paid flights started at the end of the week.  There would be another encounter.  I got to see it one day as it flew over the city but I did make a more deliberate effort to shoot it again.  More to come…

Checking Your USB Cable Specs

When I got the new cameras, I needed to get a new card reader as a result of the change of format.  I researched this a little and bought what seemed to be a good reader.  However, when I was downloading the shots, I have to say I was a bit disappointed.  I know the cards were larger and the files were bigger but it seemed that it wasn’t any faster than I was used to.  At some point, I thought to look at the USB C cable I was using.  I had bought the cable for connecting my iPad and found that charging cable and fast data cables were not the same thing.  I tried the cable that came with the camera and the downloads zipped along.  I then bought a proper data cable and now the card reader is working like a charm.  I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t thought about this having already got a USB C cable but it made a big difference so don’t make the same mistake as me.

Alaska Doesn’t Want These Guys

Alaska Airlines likes to advertise that it is “Proudly All Boeing”.  It isn’t of course.  The Q400s and E175s are definitely not Boeing jets.  When they bought Virgin America, they acquired a large fleet of Airbus jets too.  These are not going to be part of the fleet for long, though.  Alaska has made it clear that they are going away.  The A319s are apparently too small so are the first in line for replacement.  Go to Paine Field and you will come across a bunch of Alaska painted A319s bagged up and awaiting their future.  A319s are generally smaller than airlines want these days – it is not that long ago that the A319 was more popular than the A320 but that is no longer the case.  I wonder where these will go next.

Are You A Mink?

I was watching the water in the bay looking for the beaver to come out and feed.  I saw something swimming across the surface and at first thought it was a beaver – if only a small one.  It didn’t look like it was moving like an otter but it also didn’t seem like a beaver.  A while later, I saw some more movement on the water heading for the shore.  It looked a little different but I couldn’t say what it was.  It then climbed out on to the bank and ran along a log.

I grabbed a few shots and thought it looked a bit like an otter but somehow different.  I then lost it again and carried on shooting other subjects.  When I got home, I went through the shots and realized I had been looking at two different creatures.  The first one will get its own post in due course.  The second one had me confused.  I started googling images of stoats, ferrets and so on until I got to mink.  The pictures of the mink look exactly like the animal in my shot.  I think that is what it is.  I have never seen a mink in the wild before so this was a pretty cool find for me.

Stinson Reliant – Don’t Go Too Soon

Sometimes my poor choices can help other people out.  I made a trip down to Auburn to see the Stinson Reliant that the local chapter of the Commemorative Air Force has.  They were having an open day but the conditions were not looking great.  I got there as things were opening up and had a look around the plane while they prepped it to run.  Then they fired it up and ran the engine for a while before shutting down.  At this point, the rain was thinking about starting up and I decided to call it quits.

This was just what everyone else needed.  I got a call as I was heading north again.  My friend Bob told me they were looking to go flying.  I was tempted to turn around and go back but decided not to.  I had some other things I wanted to see and felt the conditions were likely to mean that they skipped the flying.  I was clearly wrong.  My friends got a bunch of nice shots of the plane flying.  I have to make do with it on the ground for now.

A Little Spider Gets Macro Treatment

While getting ready one morning, I saw a little spider in my bathroom.  It was wandering around on the vanity unit and would stop for periods of time without moving.  I figured I might want to give the macro lens a go and went to get the camera.  The introduction of the camera was not ideal for encouraging it not to move but I got a bunch of shots.  Unfortunately, they were at a pretty high ISO.  However, stacking shots can help with the ISO so the result was okay.

A while later, it was back.  This time it had climbed up a cable and this reduced the number of ways it could go.  This time I decided to tool up and got a clamp to hold the camera and set things up to shoot a proper sequence for stacking.  The shutter speeds were low with the clamp which meant ISO could be a lot better.  Here are the results of those experiments.  (Sorry to people I know that don’t like spiders but, really, this thing is tiny!)

Basler BT-67

Making a cross country flight from Wisconsin to Washington is a long enough trip but it is even longer if you are in something that isn’t too speedy.  A DC-3 is not something that is going to cover the ground that fast.  It will be a bit quicker if it has been re-engined with a turboprop but, even then, it is going to be a long trip.  I think it was the best part of eight hours to make the journey and then overnight at Seattle before continuing on to Alaska the next day.

The arrival of the BT-67 certainly got the attention of a few local photographers.  Sadly, things got a bit cloudy just as it arrived so the conditions were not ideal.  It was still cool to get a shot, of course.  Fortunately, they had parked near the Museum of Flight so I was able to get a few shots of them parked up.  The crew were just closing up so the gate to the ramp was open for them and a kind security guard allowed me to shoot past him without having to deal with the fence.