I bumped into a guy I had met before while at Fox Field outside Lancaster CA. He had just arranged a ride out on to the ramp with one of the airport staff and invited me to come along. One of the old airframes stored at Fox Field, near the air tanker ramp, is an old Armstrong Whitworth Argosy. I have no idea of the history of this airframe and how it ended up here but here it is. We were free to wander around and get some shots of it.
I understand it has been at Fox Field for a long time. It isn’t going anywhere in a hurry but, courtesy of the dry climate, it is only decaying slowly. I have no idea how long it will be before it becomes unsafe to have around any longer but I imagine it will be a while. Definitely an unusual aircraft to get to shoot these days.
Air Canada brings a pair of A220-300s in to SEA each evening – one from Toronto and one from Montreal. They leave the following morning with the Toronto flight heading out early and the Montreal flight following a couple of hours later. The Toronto flight one weekend was the TCA special aircraft so I decided to head out and catch it departing.
The day started very overcast and gloomy but there was a sign that things were going to get better. This did happen but things were still not great when the jet departed. The light had improved a bit but the cloud was still there. When looking at the shots, I figured it was time to make use of the masking options that Lightroom offers. The latest update has improved their usability somewhat. First I drop the exposure of the shot overall to get the sky looking roughly how I want it. Then I select the aircraft suing the Subject option. It does a pretty reasonable job but I do then refine it with an addition brush to bring in the bits it has missed and a subtract brush to take out the detail areas where the mask has overlapped.
The new option is the click on this mask and choose the Duplicate and Invert option. This gives me a sky selection that matches what I have got for the aircraft. For the sky, I can work on the white balance to bring it back to something more cool which suits the overall look of the shot. I can similarly work on the white balance for the jet to make the reds pop more in the livery. The exposure can be brought up a bit with the shadows helping a little while bringing the blacks down while improve the contrast.
All of this is pretty straightforward. One nice feature of the latest update is that you can actually apply the same settings to multiple images. The brush adjustments are not going to work well for this so it is best to do the overall selections and sync to the various images and then, if a shot is worthy of further work, the refining of the mask can be done afterwards. If you know which shot is the best, you can just focus on that one.
Glorious weather had greeted the B-17, Sentimental Journey, when it came to Seattle. The following week, it moved up to Arlington but was not so lucky. The skies were pretty overcast and the air was more humid. It didn’t make for great conditions to shoot a bare metal aircraft. However, many times before, I have written here about how poorer conditions can sometimes be worthwhile. This was one of those times.
I started off shooting from further up the field and, as the B-17 started her takeoff roll, it was clear that the props were pulling a fair bit of vapor from the air. Consequently, I headed further down the field for the next flight. This also provided a close look at the plane as it taxied out. The real benefit came when the power was applied. Vortices were streaming from the tips of the props and swirling back across the wings. It is always a tricky call when trying to shoot in these conditions. A good bit of prop blur is good as is a blurry background to emphasize speed but, this will result in the vortices being less defined. A faster shutter speed helps make them stand out. I tried to get a good balance with the speed I chose.
Over the course of the Seafair weekend, I got to see the demo F-35A arrive and depart a few times. The demo pilot would get airborne and keep the jet on the deck in full burner building up a decent amount of speed. Then, she would pull to a steep climb just as she got to the perimeter of the field. This looked pretty impressive from the side but it was even more impressive from head on.
The return to land after the display was a lot more sedate. It was a pretty standard pattern and approach but there were plenty of people at the south end to enjoy the last moments of the flight. I headed down there a couple of times. You could easily do both departure and approach since you had the whole time that the display was underway to re-position. I did all go to Ruby Chow Park from one departure and shot video rather than stills. Seeing the F-35 come right at us and then pull hard was impressive. The noise was intense and the wake threw dust and debris into the air around us. It made an impression!
My friend, Paul, had advised me that Lancaster CA had a couple of aircraft on poles that were worth a look. One is a retired Air Force test F-4 that sits at a busy intersection next to a rail station. The other is a NASA F/A-18A that is at the entrance to a baseball stadium. I decided to try and photograph both one evening when the light would be most favorable.
The guys hanging out near the F-4 looked a little perplexed as I drove up and started photographing this plane on a pole. I think they didn’t see the interest in it that I did. I think I attracted a few strange glances and I grabbed some shots and then headed back to the car. The Hornet at the baseball stadium was a different story. Not too many people around at that time so I took some shots and then headed off. There was one more target of interest but that would have to wait for a morning visit.
The Vice President made a visit to Seattle a while back. Much of the discussion was about how the traffic downtown could be disrupted but the first thought that I had was that there would be jets visiting. I was unable to see anything of the visit of Air Force One and the Marine Corps support when the president came to town but I was able to catch the Veep’s jet. For this visit, Air Force Two was provided by a USAF C-32. It arrived while I was elsewhere but I was able to catch it depart.
It was parked over near Modern Aviation and, when the motorcade arrived and delivered everybody, they were swiftly on their way. The taxi route came out towards me and then direct on to the runway to backtrack. Since a TFR was in effect, no one else was flying so no need to use the taxiway. Just straight back down the runway, do a 180 and power away. I think the 757 is a good looking jet and the C-32 certainly looks great. They were off the ground swiftly and climbing away.
Airlift Northwest is a regular feature in the Seattle area providing aeromedical services across the region. I have seen their helicopters at both Arlington and Boeing Field numerous times. During the Olympic Air Show at Olympia, I was wandering up towards the hangar where the Huskie was stored when one of the Airlift Northwest EC-135s made its approach. I couldn’t have been better positioned for it so got a bunch of shots as it came in and landed. The UW colors look good on these helicopters.
There are many ways in which the largest aircraft in the world might be defined. It cam be dimensional and it can be by weight. Depending on which you choose to use, the Stratolaunch aircraft can probably qualify for one of them. A project that was started under the oversight of Paul Allen and, for which the future suddenly looked bleak when he died. However, it has continued and now seems to have a possible future.
I was hoping that it might make a flight for the Edwards show. On the Friday, the jet was out taxiing at Mojave. I missed it being out on the runway but I could see it moving as I drove north. Consequently, I made a quick detour to see what I could see. It was being brought back to their ramp when I got there. The airport security were kind but firm about not hanging around so when they arrived shortly after I did, I left as requested. Fortunately, I had already had a brief opportunity to take some photos of it. I understand it flew a few days later carrying the launch vehicle (probably a mass and aero simulator) on a test flight. We shall see if it progresses to launches before too long.
I was hanging out at Arlington with my buddy Bob. A variety of aircraft were flying that day but the conditions were not ideal. We were there for something else but that is the topic for another post. We had gone to the north end of the field where a path crosses under the centerline. Some Eagle Flights were taking place that day and one of the planes providing them was a Cirrus SF50 Vision. It took off while we were up there so we got some head on shots of it. A grey jet on a cloudy day is not ideal so, rather than getting the regular side on shots, a head on view was actually a better outcome.
The Bolt Creek fire brought a load of helicopters in to fight the fire and they were based at Harvey Field in Snohomish. A while after I got there that weekend, one of the UH-1s fired up. This was Rotor One, a county operated helicopter. It took off and turned over me before heading east. It turns out it was looking to see how the conditions were. Visibility looked awful and, judging by whatever Rotor One reported, that was the case everywhere. None of the other helicopters ever got moving. The conditions were just too bad.