I’ve posted a few times about my experience with the drag racing at Pacific Raceway. One of the things that I particularly was fascinated by was the surface of the strip itself. I mentioned before the machines that they used for conditioning this surface to ensure that there was maximum traction between the tires and ground. Periodically, the staff would come on to the track to take samples and measurements to understand exactly how it was performing. What photos don’t show you, but video can, is just how anything on the surface would stick. Only when you heard people walking along the track could you get the sound of their shoes sticking to the ground. Here is a video to explain what I mean.
I was listening to an episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage that was discussing wasps versus bees. As part of the conversation, one of the contributors mentioned that wasps like sweet things early in the season when they are feeding their young but, later in the year, they are only feeding themselves and they want protein (or the other way around if I have remembered incorrectly). I didn’t know anything about this before but then, shortly afterwards, we were sitting out on the deck after dinner and a wasp landed on a plate and then flew off with a chunk of chicken. This chunk was almost as big as it was.
A week later, we were back out on the deck and, with dinner done, a wasp came back to check out the leftovers. This time I was ready with my phone. Sure enough, it landed on my plate, checked out a piece of corn and then homed in on some chicken. A few bites later, it had extracted its meal and got airborne and away. I had my video proof, so I was happy. It came back for a second piece a little while later, so I guess it was storing food for later.
Once Russia went to war with Ukraine, the ability of Russian cargo operators to continue their US business went away. Volga Dnepr had been providing a bunch of service for Boeing operations at Everett bringing in outsize airframe parts. With them out of the picture, Boeing had to find an alternative. Antonov Design Bureau designed the AN-124 originally and it has an in house airline, Antonov Airlines. They seem to have picked up a bunch of work that Volga Dnepr previously had. Despite the enthusiasm for various people calling them Russians, they are definitely Ukrainian!
They have been in and out of Paine Field pretty frequently over the last few months. I have got shots of them at different times with the aircraft carrying various messages about cities in Ukraine. Having got shots at different times, I also started shooting some video. Here are some of the shots along with a video of one of the departures.
Nancy and I were walking along the shore on Lopez Island one Sunday on a trail alongside some marshy areas. We were discussing whether the water was connected to the sea all of the time or only at high tide when I noticed something moving in the shallow water. When I looked closer, I realized that, not only was it a crab, but that there were tons of them. The water was full of them, and they were pretty aggravated.
It didn’t seem to matter what size they were; they were all picking fights with each other. Some of these were brief hit and run type efforts but others seemed to be engaged in battles that were going on for a while. Most were in the water but occasionally they would come out onto the land. One walked right up to my shoe. Spaces under rocks or wood seemed like prime spots with smaller crabs trying to get under there while the larger inhabitants fended them off. It was hilarious to watch once you could see that they were there. I could have spent ages watching them but that wasn’t the purpose of visiting the island, so I left them to their battles.
As we were walking through Brandon Park, we saw this gull on the grass by the path. I don’t know for sure what it was up to, but I wondered whether its steps were designed to sound like rain falling to worms beneath the surface to encourage them to come up and then get eaten. Maybe it is something else but, whatever it is, it was pretty funny to watch. Needless to say, I thought it was worth getting some video.
I did a little filming on a bike ride with an old GoPro Hero 5 of mine. The current generation of action cameras has all sorts of clever tech built in which can deal with rotation of the camera and stabilizing the image. The Hero 5 doesn’t have any of that and I ended up spending a lot of time stabilizing the images in post processing to try and get something usable out of it. I was surprised how badly it came out and started thinking about an upgrade to incorporate all of the newer capabilities. It was at this point that I got a little silly. I had seen videos before about the Insta360 cameras and had found them intriguing but not so much that I wanted to get one. Now I was looking for a new camera, the capabilities that they have seemed like it could be a good step forward.
For those that haven’t seen one, the Insta360 in its current X3 form has two cameras on opposite sides of the body with fisheye lenses with over 180 degrees of coverage. The sensors are 5.7K resolution and the camera can stitch the two outputs together to give spherical coverage. It also has a stick on which you can mount it which the camera will recognize the location of and take both images to effectively remove the stick from the video. With the high resolution of the original files, you can then use their software – either on your phone or using the desktop app – to pan and zoom around the original files and generate video output of whatever you want.
What this means is that you don’t have to frame a shot when you are shooting. The only thing you have to do is have the camera in the right place. You can worry about where it is pointing later on which is great when you are already doing something else. The removal of the stick is very impressive, only slightly undermined but the fact your hand that is holding it now looks a little odd. Also, if the shadow of the stick is in shot, the software doesn’t know to do anything about that! (As an aside, there is a mode where you only shoot with one side like a normal action camera if you want.)
What is the downside to all of this? Big files! You are shooting a lot of data on two cameras simultaneously so you can fill up cards fast. You do also have to then review each clip and pick your angles for the shots, but you would have had to do that beforehand otherwise so no great loss. Other than that, not a lot to complain about. I have tried it on a few occasions so far. The length of the stick makes it seem like you have a drone flying above you if you put it up there. A cool result. I took it out on a bike ride to see how things came out and I have a short video below that shows you the result. No great cinematography here but an introduction to what can be done. Remember that each shot is only moving the camera around and the panning and zooming is all done back at home. Amazing tech!
Seattle is a place where you can get a fair bit of humidity at certain times of day. Earlier in the day, there might be a lot of cloud but it will burn off as the day goes on and you have some sunny afternoons and evenings. Watching the planes on approach to SEA on days like this can make for some rapidly changing conditions. I was watching a bunch of jets heading towards SEA as they came through the clouds and into clear air. They would be leaving trails in the cloud base behind them as they went but would be trailing their own little vapor fields behind them.
The conditions didn’t last long and soon the clouds were almost gone and the amount of vapor that they were pulling was minimizing. The vapor was clearly aligned with the flaps on the wings so you could see where the air was being worked the hardest. I did get some shots of them for this which I shall share later but the way in which the vapor puffs and dissipates is best seen in video, so I shot a bunch of that. Most planes were coming directly over me but a couple of the wide-bodies were going to the inner runway so were offset from my location.
I get plenty of emails about cycling events taking place in the Pacific Northwest. Some of them are of interest, some are way too hard for me, and some are not at a time that works for me. However, the Tour de Lopez ticked all the right boxes. It was a ride around Lopez Island in the San Juans so I asked various people to see whether they would be interested in taking part. I got a few positive responses, so I registered.
The ferry times to Lopez are not normally good for an early start but Washington State Ferries had arranged for the 7:30 from Anacortes to make an extra stop at Lopez for the event. This was good but it did mean an early start from home to get up to Anacortes in time to put the bike together, get a ticket and board. Unfortunately, in the days prior to the event, everyone progressively bailed on me. The night before, it was just me. I decided to go for it anyway.
The weather on the island was forecast to be nice but the temps are significantly lower on the islands at this time of year, so I decided to layer up. This worked well. I also decided to take my old GoPro with me to record the day. I was glad I did. It was an excellent ride. The route winds around the island and comes through a variety of bays. With the sun shining, these bays look so idyllic. On a normal ride, I might be more focused on keeping moving but on this I was in no hurry so I would stop to make sure I could get some video of the ride.
There were a bunch of rest stops along the route. Plenty of cyclists were taking part – it was sold out – but it never felt crowded. You would see people passing by but wouldn’t be in large groups. The nice thing about the island is that there is not a huge amount of traffic, so it is a great place to ride. I would occasionally see some familiar faces from earlier in the ride too. It ended up back at Lopez Village where they had laid on some food. I bumped into a couple of guys I had seen before, and we had lunch and then rode back towards the ferry.
The ferry ride back was a nice way to end off the day and I was able to pack up my stuff in the car and head home. The day was so much fun, and I hope the video shows just how good it was. The guys that had been unable to join clearly liked the video because we ended up setting up a second attempt. We did this a few weeks later and used a later ferry to start the day so it was a more relaxed affair.
With a nice forecast, the wind in the right direction and an indication of some operations, I figured a day off was worthwhile and headed up to Coupeville to see if I could get some Growler operations. I was pleased to see the fire trucks getting ready when I arrived, and that the meatball was at the north end. Looked like I was going to be in luck. Yes and no! I did get some ops and plenty of patterns but only a couple of jets actually showed up. Fortunately, one of them was a squadron color jet so I was able to get a bunch of shots to play with. I also shot a load of video so here is the edit of that too. Could have been a busier day but they finished up and the crews headed off so I did the same.
The selection of Magisters at California City was the subject of a previous post. The day continued to improve, though, as a bunch of people showed up to take one of the planes flying. They had come from France and had a crew of people both helping launch and also filming them in the process. We were allowed to hang out close by to watch them go. This did mean having to deal with the intense noise from the tiny turbojets that power the plane.
I shot both stills and video and we were able to get out close by the runway. The video of the launch preparations was fun, but I wanted stills of the jet airborne, so I focused on getting those instead. The Magister is a great looking little jet and, I imagine it is a bunch of fun to have some that are airworthy. I imagine that, as warbirds go, it is probably one of the more affordable ones!