Author Archives: Rob

AMG Mercedes Fins and Strakes

I was taking a look at one of the AMG Mercedes cars that was at Exotics@RTC.  This is a road car but it has clearly gone through a lot of aerodynamic development.  The front end of the car is covered in aero treatments with fin and strakes of all sorts.  I have no idea how important this is for driving the car around Seattle but it was really quite something.  I spent a few minutes just looking at them and thinking back to my aero days.

Will I Ever Get a HondaJet In The Sun?

When I find out that a HondaJet is in the area, I do try to get a shot of it.  It is such an unusual design, I am hoping to get a good shot of one.  Sadly, two things seem to be conspiring against me.  First, they all seem to have a variation on the same paint scheme.  No doubt you can paint it how you like but they almost all seem to look similar.  The second thing is that I always seem to get them in cloudy conditions.  This doesn’t stop me trying though.  I have even got one in a better livery but not with good light.  However, these are the recent examples I have seen.  Maybe I will get a shot of one that I am happy with at some point.

Sometimes You Get Lucky With Timing

One evening after work, I decided to head back down to Juanita Bay to see if I could get more shots of the beavers.  I had been pleased with my first encounter and wanted to see whether there was a chance of getting some more shots.  The weather wasn’t so nice but I had nothing on for the evening so decided to hang out for a while.  I was there with nothing happening and the light gradually fading so set myself a target of 7pm.  If nothing happened by then, I would go home.  With about a minute to go before the top of the hour, a guy came out on to the deck I was on.

I figured I wouldn’t leave as he arrived since it would look like he had driven me away.  I would wait to give him time to get bored and leave.  Instead, a couple of minutes after I had planned to leave, out came a beaver.  It swam straight towards me along the shore eventually coming right under where I was standing.  I only had the long lens so it ended up way too close.  I should have used my phone to be honest.  I would never have seen it if it hadn’t been for his arrival.

I had a repeat a couple of days later.  I had seen a pair of beavers swim by – not so close this time – and they had gone around into the inlet and I hadn’t seen them return.  I was beginning to think I was not going to see them again but got a message from Nancy (who was traveling) to say she could chat.  We had a call for a short while when I noticed a tree shaking not far from me.  I told her I would call her back.  One of the beavers had come across the land and was chomping on the tree.  A little while passed and then it came down to the water, dropped in to the lake and swam right past me.  I was ready for it to be so close this time.  Another lucky break that I would have missed if it hadn’t been for the call.

My One Chance With The Bones

Red Flag 22-2 included a detachment of B-1B Lancers.  The Bone is a cracking jet as it combines the size of a bomber with the shaping and engines of a fighter.  It is an elegant shape whether the wings are fully swept or not.  I have shot them at Nellis a few times over the years but I was still keen to get some shots of them on this trip.  Unfortunately, things did not quite go to plan.

They didn’t fly on the day that I arrived.  I had gone out in the evening for the night launch but they were not part of it.  The following morning, they launched a lot earlier than I expected so I was still at Cheyenne when they went.  My last day, they again didn’t launch.  That meant the recoveries from the early launch were my only chance.

Weather was not helping too much.  This was not just for the Bones.  It was pretty overcast for a good chunk of the afternoon.  The two jets came back in formation and broke into the pattern.  Thankfully, the arrivals were using the 21s and they were allocated to the right runway.  A pretty sporty pattern for a big jet combined with me having chosen a good spot by the Speedway meant that they were almost filling the frame as they turned on to final.  Some nicer light would have been great but, since this was all I was getting in daylight, it would have to do.

Comparison of Cloud Formation and Development

I may be stuck in the house during work hours but the view out of the window doesn’t have to be totally ignored.  We have had a bunch of changeable weather recently and I have been shooting time lapses of the clouds.  The M6 works well for this but I have been using my fisheye lens on the M adaptor to get a wide view of what is going on out there.  It has proved to be interesting as a review the footage later.  Some of the skies have lots of activity while others don’t.

Sometimes we get the winds pulling the clouds across the sky but the overcast is thick and the lack of heat on the ground means that the clouds are pretty stable.  On other days we get almost constant development and dissipation of the clouds.  We are on a hill so we can get quite localized development around us.  Sometimes you have lower level clouds going one way and higher level clouds heading somewhere else.

I put together a video that includes a variety of clips from these time lapses to show how different things can be on different days (or even at different times of the same day!).

Flying With Flair

Canada has had a surge in low cost airlines.  One of them is Flair.  They too delivery of a few new jets but I never happened to be around when any of them was on test so, I never got a shot of their pretty bright colors.  Another delivery was due recently and I happened to be at BFI when the jet was being ferried in from another location – presumably where it had been painted.  Not the greatest light I’m afraid but still enough to be worthwhile and the colors are a bit more interesting that the usual.  I’ve no idea how their operations are going but, with so many new players in the market, they will have their work cut out for them.

Otter Skirting The Bay

We have a few otters that are regulars in Juanita Bay.  One afternoon, while waiting to see what would show up, one of them could be seen swimming along the shoreline across the inlet from where I was.  It seemed to be on the move rather than hunting so the question was where would it go?  It headed right into the inlet and then came along the shore.  It would pop out of the water on to the land and wander a little before slipping back into the water.

It came around the edge of the inlet and up towards where we were on the boardwalk.  Would it try and cross under us?  No, it continued along the edge of the water swimming and then climbing on to land again.  Back to the water, around the edge of the inlet and then around to the open part of the bay.  It stayed close to the edge but kept on moving and disappeared around the corner and to the larger lake.  At its closest, it was in the long grass which meant getting a clear shot was tricky.  Still, it was pretty close for a long time which is unusual for the otters.

Navion Rangemaster

The Navion is a type that you see a fair bit around the US.  They are a popular aircraft and are both used for private flying and also sometimes for display teams.  I’ve shot a bunch of them over the years.  However, I did not know until very recently that Ryan, when they took over the design, came up with a larger cabin version of the aircraft called the Rangemaster.  I only found out because I happened to shoot one at Paine Field.  It was only when I looked it up that I found out what it was.  I may have seen one before but I certainly didn’t know it if I did.  A quick search shows that there weren’t too many of them built and I guess a lot less are currently airworthy.

Random Heron Shots

I have spent a lot of time at Juanita Bay recently photographing wildlife.  One thing that you won’t have to wait long to see there is a Great Blue Heron.  They are a regular feature of the bay and they often come very close to the viewing decks.  Consequently, I have got a lot of shots of them.  Here is a sample of some that I have recently seen.  I haven’t got bored of shooting them but I certainly don’t rush to shoot them when they show up like I used to!

C-17 Patterns At Boeing Field

Boeing Field has a lot of civilian traffic, but it is also a popular stop off point for military traffic.  What I hadn’t anticipated was a McChord C-17 wanting to use it for some pattern work.  I was sitting in the car working on a spreadsheet updating my forecasts for a project that we are working on.  I guess I had heard something call up but was busy with the work and had not realized what was coming.  However, the rumbling of four engines got quite loud and I looked up to see the C-17 on short final.

I did grab a couple of quick shots, but luck was on my side.  They wanted to fly a few patterns so I was going to get another go at it.  The left-hand patterns meant you could see them heading downwind and turning back on to final.  I could get on with my spreadsheet and be ready when they came back again.  The light was really nice and they seemed to fly a little higher on the approach than is normal so getting shots was not tricky.

At one point, while flying downwind, I could see another C-17 flying directly across the field.  They were actually setting up for an approach to McChord and were not going to come our way but it was cool to see both in shot at once.  After they completed their pattern work, they headed back north again so I am not sure what their next plans was but I was pleased to have seen them and had the chance to try and few different shots.