We had some pretty stormy weather come through the Seattle area at the end of 2022. When I took a walk through the park at Juanita, I drove past a tree hanging over one lane of the road. Once I got to the park, there were trees down in places. Even the parking lot was showing that it had been breezy with debris scattered across the road surface. They cleaned things up pretty quickly but it had obviously been rather blowy.
Category Archives: photo
Checking Out The Northwest Helicopters’ Black Hawk
With the firefighting helicopters gathering at Snohomish to cover the local fire activity, I was able to chat to the crews a little while they waited to see what was to come. Northwest Helicopters had brought in a Black Hawk to support the fire if needed. It was a 1984 build airframe and had been painted in a blue scheme. The guys were complaining about the paint, though. It was a matte finish and the soot from the exhausts was discoloring the surface and was, apparently, impossible to clean up. The rest of the airframe looked fine for something that is nearly 40 years old.
They had a Bambi bucket with them for the firefighting side of things and were quite happy for me to check out the interior of the cockpit. Having shot their arrival, it was a shame that the visibility was so bad that they could not do what they had come to do and were stuck on the ground while I was there. A nice pair of guys to chat with, though, and I appreciate the time and access that they gave.
Hummingbird Guarding The Icicle
We try to keep the feeders stocked up for the hummingbirds. However, while there is never a shortage, they still get very competitive about access with dominant birds trying to keep the others away. If only they understood! As the temperature dropped and I imagine their food sources got sparser, one of the hummers decided to take up residence on the arm that the feeder hangs from. If I went outside, it would fly away but would immediately return as soon as I was gone. It meant it was easier photographing it through the window. The icicle hanging beneath it is a measure of the chilly conditions.
Alaska Air Cargo Finally in Good Conditions
Alaska Air Cargo operates some 737-700s that have been converted to freighters. For some reason, I feel like I have struggled to get any good shots of them. I have either been too distant or the weather was crummy or I just made a bad job of the shots. They operate in and out of SEA daily so you would think that, after six years up here, I would have got something of them that I liked. Finally I got a bit more lucky. Some afternoon departures to the north on days when I could be there and the light was cooperating meant I was able to get something better. The -700 is not a big jet so, even with the 500mm, I was stretching things a bit but winter light makes everything better. If only the Cargo logo wasn’t hidden behind the wing for a good chunk of the time. The low light does make the texture of the door conversion on the front of the fuselage show up, though.
Osborne House Gardens
We made our visit to Osborne House in October of 2022 and the gardens have since made the news in the UK. One of the older trees fell in some bad weather so, while I don’t know which tree it was, it is possible I got a photo of it shortly before it met its demise. Always a shame when an old tree falls but such is the nature of things. We wandered around the grounds prior to going into the house. It wasn’t clear whether the weather was going to deteriorate so we figured we would do the outside stuff first while we knew it was okay.
It isn’t hard to see how Victoria liked the place. The grounds run down to the sea and the views from the house are really nice. There are trees and plants of all sorts of varieties so, if you know more about that sort of thing, I could quite imagine that you would have much to study. I just like looking at them so a simpler proposition for me.
We took one of the trails down to Osborne Bay. There was a little café down there so we could stop off and have a snack and some refreshments. It wasn’t that warm, but you can always find time for an ice cream if you want to! From the café, it was a straight walk back up to the house. There are some large planters along the path. Not sure how big something could be and survive in one of them, but I imagine a moderately sized tree would be fine!
Once you get close to the house itself, you get to the ornamental gardens. These were actually quite nicely laid out. That sort of thing doesn’t always do it for me, but I quite liked Osborne. However, there were some really odd sculptures scattered around near the house. Not sure what sort of imagery the sculptures of the day had in their heads but the hybrids of various animals and humans that they sculpted were very weird. They also suffered from the same thing of a lot of sculptures of their day- they had never seen the animals that they were recreating. There was a lion that looked more like a goofy character from a comedy based in a high school! We might have laughed at that one for a while!
I had seen photos from the visits people had made to the airport in California City that showed a lot of old business jet airframes in storage. I was curious to see this place myself and so headed up there when I had some time one evening. There is a local business that takes old jets – principally Gulfstreams – and strips them for any components that will be useful in the secondary market. The owner of the place is welcoming to visitors and a friend was actually already there when I arrived. A little while later after sorting out issues with the gate opening, I was inside and free to roam around.
There are so many jets, it is hard to know where to start. Some of them are basically intact while others have had substantial elements removed. Sides of the fuselage might be cut out, gear may have been removed and engines are definitely a valuable commodity. Some of the control surfaces will have found a second life supporting an airworthy jet. Older generation jets like the G-II and G-III are represented but the G-IV is now knocking on a bit and so there are quite a few of those too. Some very old jets are scattered in amongst the carcasses including one that had been used as a military testbed.
The planes are squeezed in to all available spaces. As you walk around, you have to pay a lot of attention to make sure you don’t trip over anything or smack your head on part of an airframe. Also good to try and avoid getting in the shots of other photographers! I didn’t see any hazardous wildlife which helped make the walking around a little easier.
While most airframes were Gulfstreams, there were occasional exceptions. I came across a really old HS125. It was from the days of Viper engines so definitely an old one. It didn’t look to be in great condition but the dry desert air means that they survive pretty well for a long time.
Old Lady Of Threadneedle Street
We did a little wandering through the City while we were staying in Town. My familiarity is more with the west end of London and then City was somewhere I would go periodically but not regularly. Nancy worked there for a while so she knew bits of it but not a large area. We walked up King William Street and ended up coming to the Bank of England. With so many classical buildings in the City, it is easy to see just another one. However, thinking about the vaults underneath this pile and the things that are stored in there makes for a slightly more interesting place!
EcoDemonstrator In Good Light Finally Arrives
Boeing has been running a program for the last 10 years called the EcoDemonstrator program. They have used a variety of aircraft over this time – often ones that were bailed back from operators or that had not yet been delivered. The most recent aircraft to participate was an older 777-200ER. I am not sure why this jet was picked but I do wonder whether they pick up aircraft that don’t have a lot of hours left before a major inspection so they are more affordable.
This one has been flying around for quite a while but I have never seen it moving. Then, not so long ago, I finally got to shoot it but it was a miserable day with low cloud and awful light. I felt like I was destined to never get a shot of it in nice conditions. Things changed when I went to Georgetown to see the Steam Plant. I was in the plant having a look around shortly after arriving when something large took off overhead. I pulled out my phone to see what it was a saw that the demonstrator was powered up on the Boeing ramp and scheduled for a flight.
This was a lucky break – not just that it was flying but that I happened to look at my phone to see it. I went back to the car to change lenses when I saw it had started to move. I was tricked a little, though. They moved it to the exit of the Boeing ramp and then it stayed there for ages. However, eventually it did taxi down the field and take off. It was quite high as it came by me but I was able to get some shots of it and the underside had some graphics about being powered by sustainable aviation fuel so that was something I hadn’t seen before.
I then finished my visit to the steam plant. The demonstrator was down off the Oregon coast flying various profiles on their test card. When Boeing Jets fly down there you are left guessing as to when they might return. They will be flying towards you and then reverse course to do more test points. There were some interesting departures from SEA early in the afternoon so I was hoping to shoot them and then return to Boeing Field for the demonstrator. I saw it head towards me but figured it would reverse course any time.
I was wrong. It was coming back and soon. This was not in the plan. The departures from SEA would have been good but this plane is unique so it was getting priority. I headed back to Boeing Field where I was not alone. Plenty of people had come out for it. A sunny Saturday was clearly good news for the local photographers. I then watched the planes come out of SEA that I had wanted to shoot but that would have to be accepted. Not long before the 777 showed up out in front of Mt Rainier and then it was on approach. I was happy with my results. Chatting with some of the locals, they said it was not long before it heads to storage in the desert. I know it flew a few times after this but maybe this was my last chance. Thank goodness the conditions were good and that I even realized!
Trumpeter Swans Back In Juanita
The winter is a good time for swans to show up back in Juanita Bay. They are there to eat and rest so are not always the most fun to shoot but sometimes they will get a bit more active. There is a bank of silt in the bay where they can stand and rest so having nothing happen for long periods of time is not impossible. I was there one Sunday morning and they were eating quite close to the shore. However, it was winter and, while the sun was out, they were in the shade.
Every once in a while, some of them would get energetic and I could get some shots of them taking off and flying towards each other. I’m not sure how competitive this all was since things never got terribly aggressive but they did seem to be sparring half-heartedly. A whole family came in to the bay at one point but, rather than flying in when the light was very nice, they just swam in. A touch disappointing but it is nature photography. What can you do?
Joe Davis Airpark
I have been through Palmdale a few times but none of those previous trips coincided with a time when the Joe Davis Airpark was open. I got to look through the fence at the aircraft on display but couldn’t go in. This time, I was better prepared and was able to check the place out at my leisure (if you ignore having to do a Teams call halfway through while trying to find some shade and avoid noisy kids). As it happened, they were planning on closing earlier than scheduled that day so I could have had another miss if I had waited until later in the day!
The park has a wide variety of aircraft types scattered around. Photography is okay as things are not right on top of each other but the desert sun is still pretty harsh and so doesn’t make for the best results. Still, I’m not going to stop shooting images just for that reason. There are a couple of more unusual types on display and at least one of those is going to get its own post. There are plenty of fighters and trainers. An F-14 is always a welcome jet on display but an A-7 is also going to go down well with me as will an F-101. The C-140 was a nice surprise as I do like a JetStar.
The larger aircraft start with a C-46 which was a bit close to the fence so made for a more busy background. It is a small exhibit compared to the two largest items on display. B-52s are well represented in museums around the US. They were certainly built in large quantities. This one has a Hound Dog missile alongside. Next to it, though, is the most special asset. A 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. Retired by NASA at the end of the Shuttle program, it now resides in the sun a short distance from its old home at Edwards.