A shelter program in the Tri-Valley area held a fund raising run a little while back. A few of our friends had decided to participate so I headed along to get some shots of them running. There was both a 5k and a 10k to choose from. The 10k was the first to head out. This meant they could get away rather than conflict with the 5k runners and would hopefully avoid any 5k runners being directed off on the longer route by mistake.
A few minutes later, the 5k participants lined up and were sent on their way. They headed through the park and off to the trail that would be their out and back route. They needed to cross a road so the volunteers were out to manage the traffic and allow the runners to cross without having to stop. (Most drivers managed to handle this concept but I saw one dope that didn’t seem to think the stop signs meant anything.)
Everyone seemed to be having a good time when they headed out. The return meant some of them looked a little less perky but they had done well and supported a good cause. Well done everyone.
I was actually looking for something else when I headed to Livermore. An interesting aircraft had come to the field from Denver and a friend had given me a heads up about it. I went over to see if I could see it. As it turned out, the tail was just visible in a hangar across the field but there was nothing much to see. I decided to hang around for a short while before heading home.
As I was wandering along the fence line, a light twin came in to land. I got some shots as it landed and could read the DA62 logo on the aircraft. This is Diamond’s newest product and this appears to be the first example to show up in the US. I had just been reading the flight test on it in Flight International. It turns out the wife of the pilot was standing nearby. They were due to head off but we chatted for a while about their training operations and now the role of distributor for the type.
The DA62 has a change for Diamond in that it can be painted in colors. Previously, the airframes were white and all you could do was add stripes to customize them. They have done something new with the composites and this example was in a really nice metallic gray finish. They soon loaded up and headed out. This is a cool plane and a comfortable seven-seater. If you are in the market, give these guys a call!
The annual visit of the Collings Foundation to Livermore with their vintage warbirds is a popular event with many people turning out to look at the planes and, in some cases, fly in them. This year I didn’t plan on spending a lot of time there but I did head down for a while to check out how things were progressing. It was a hot day so the heat haze was playing havoc with shots as usual but there was still enough to see.
I had pondered what other spots might be useful for getting a shot or two and tried wandering down the street. However, the area is not pedestrian friendly so that idea didn’t progress too far. I did wrap up the day by driving to the public golf course at the end of the field to see whether I could get a different perspective on the departures. It wasn’t a bad spot but not somewhere I shall try again unless there is a good reason. You get a brief view and have to grab your shots before the planes are behind the trees.
Whatever the limitations, having the P-51, the B-24 and the B-17 on display is always nice and worth taking time out for given that it is so close to home.
Head south from Livermore and you get into some hilly territory beyond the vineyards. Climb over one of the ridges and you drop down into a valley flooded by a reservoir. The water is surrounded by a park that has lots of options for hiking, biking, boating and just hanging out. This is Del Valle Regional Park. We were keen to try and get some hiking in before the temperatures got too high so planned out a route that would take us up around the hills and back down to the lake.
While the park is very popular and a lot of people were along the water having picnics and swimming, it didn’t take long to get well away from everyone. To be fair, it wasn’t hard to see why. The route we took involved a very steep climb to start things off. Without having warmed up much, we were both suddenly very aware of how quickly (or not) we were going up. However, once we had reached the high point, we then had a far more relaxing path to take along the ridge. The view was fantastic and we were almost totally alone for the entire route.
Finally we dropped down to the water and had a gentle stroll back to our starting point. Meanwhile, plenty of people were enjoying the water. Kayaks and powered boats were all over the water. The edge of the water had a lot of people fishing. All in all, it seemed the image of relaxed sunny day.
A pair of locally based North American T-6 trainers were keeping busy while the Collings folks were in town. Shortly after I first arrived, they launched as a pair. The departure was very nice but was a little spoiled by a card error on my camera. (I had a card that had given me occasional trouble but this was the first time it really crapped out. It has now gone back to the manufacturer for a replacement.) The T-6s were not done and flew several times. This gave me a few more opportunities to get shots of them. Their returns to base would involve some nice breaks into the downwind which were well centered on our location. I will have to investigate these guys further since they flew very nicely.
My visit to Livermore for the Collings Foundation visit also provided some other interesting aircraft to shoot. The field was quite busy on a sunny weekend day. The usual piston singles were out and about while a couple of aerobatic types were also getting some hours in. No great description here. Just a few shots to show you what I mean.
The Collins Foundation carry out a tour throughout the country with their vintage aircraft showing them off to many communities, sharing a message about what people did in the Second World War and providing an opportunity to ride in some historic machinery. I have seen them in the past while we lived in Chicago. Their tour this year brought them through the Bay Area with stops at Moffett Field and Livermore. Since the latter is close to home, I went along to see them.
The part of the collection that they bring on tour includes a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator and a North American P-51 Mustang. I headed over to Livermore ahead of their planned arrival time and plenty of people had already gathered to see them come in. We all waited for a while and then the B-17 appeared over the hills. It made its approach and landed a short while before the B-24 showed up and followed suit. The P-51 was last of the three making a nice pass before landing. What I hadn’t anticipated was a B-25 Mitchell was also following them in. A quick turnaround and the three main players were soon launching off for flights with expectant passengers.
At this point I headed off as I had other things to do. Later in the day I came back and managed to catch an evening launch of the B-17. The following evening I had more free time so came back again. Another evening launch and recovery as the light got better and better. Then, as everyone packed up, the Collings team was kind enough to let me take some shots around the ramp. A local P-51 was parked up while the Collings P-51 had disappeared somewhere. As the sun set, I shot around the various aircraft and included a cracking 1937 Oldsmobile that one of the volunteers had brought along. With the light fading, the ramp lights came on which gave me a whole new bunch of opportunities to get some shots. I shot a lot until it was pretty late. At that point I headed home. The following day they also departed moving on to the next stop on their tour. If they come your way, make the effort to get out and see them. If you have the money, take a ride and support the continued operation of these great aircraft.
Another one of my processing technique posts today. For those of you interested in pictures of places, today will probably be one you pass on. You have been warned. This is about my first venture into the realm of HDR panoramas. I know at least one of you who knows exactly how to do this sort of thing and does it on a regular basis. You also will probably skip the rest of the post. However, you have some specialized tools for doing the job and I am playing with Lightroom and Photoshop so here is how it goes.
My initial thought having taken the shots was which order to carry out the processing. HDR first or pano first. I concluded that it had to be pano first. All of the pano exposures were consistent and would stitch properly while I wasn’t convinced that each of the pano frames would be consistent if I had done the HDR blending first. However, this left me with a second concern. Would the pano merge produce images that would align for the HDR merge. I use the pano tools built into Photoshop and, while I select the algorithm it uses, I did not have confidence that it would produce an identical alignment for each set of exposures. However, this was the route I tried.
Stitching the panos was straightforward enough. I created each of them from Lightroom and ended up with five panos with differing exposures. At this point I could have taken them directly to HDR Pro within Photoshop but, since I wanted everything to end up in the Lightroom catalog, I decided to save the files and go to HDR Pro from there.
Here I encountered my first hiccup. As expected, the panos produced were not identical. There were very close but not identical. HDR Pro only works on files that are the same dimensions. I imagine some more specialized HDR applications might be able to handle this but I was stuck with Photoshop. Since the panos were thousands of pixels across and only a few pixels different, I opened them back up in Photoshop and changed the canvas size to be identical in each case. HDR Pro is able to manage alignment of slightly misaligned shots anyway so I wanted worried about the positioning. Also, with such small changes in dimensions, I didn’t fear that I would have distortion.
With this change made, Photoshop went to work and created the HDR file. Amazingly, it worked just fine. I didn’t have any problems with the files being distorted relative to each other and it did a great job of blending them. All that was left was to crop everything in to clear up the empty corners from the pano creation (I didn’t get rid of those in the first instance since I was trying to keep the pano files identical in size and alignment) and then a few tweaks back in Lightroom had the job finished. I was pretty pleased with how it worked and, with the experience of this time, should be able to turn them around quite quickly next time.