Friday, April 06, 2007

AirFest 2007-Part Twenty

I posted about this SOCOM parachute team earlier, and mentioned that they jumped again later in the day. Well, here they are, and I gotta tell you that the light was much better for this afternoon jump. Just look at the way it highlights the smoke trails.
If you like seeing people jump out of planes, take a sec and go look at this wedding I shot last year...

AirFest 2007-Part Nineteen

More acrobatics, this time a biplane brought to you by your US Air Force Reserve. All very interesting, but like the rest of the crowd, all I could think about were those six Blue Angel jets that were parked on the flightline.

AirFest 2007-Part Eighteen

One of the most unique airplanes at AirFest was this F-104 Starfighter. I say unique in the truest sense of the word. This is supposedly the only one of it's kind that is still flying. And if there's one flying near you, you'll know it. This plane has a very unique high-pitched sound, and it is loud! I had wandered away from the flightline after being bored by the Geico plane, but when I heard this guy, I hurried back. But by then I had missed most of the show, so I have to throw in a shot of the plane on the ground. At least you can see what it looks like.

AirFest 2007-Part Seventeen

After watching jets and warbirds fly for a while, I can't say as I was too excited by seeing the aerobatic maneuvers of the Geico plane. Maybe if the gecko himself had been flying it, I'd have been more excited.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The City By The Bay

Since I'm heading back to the San Francisco Bay area in June, I thought I'd dig out the pictures I took on my last trip out there. These were some of the last pictures I ever took with my Kodak DC 4800, a 1 megapixel 3x zoom digital camera. I didn't know much about photography, but I had already figured out that if you took a lot of pictures, you'd get some good ones. So over 7 days in California, I took 6000 pictures. My strategy worked pretty well, since I got some great pictures of my stay. I hope to get many more during my upcoming trip, but looking back at what I got then, I can see that I've got my work cut out for me. I've also learned to manipulate my photographs a lot better after the fact, so many of the shots that I wasn't happy with four years ago, I can now tweak a bit to get something I really like. So let's see, what have I got here? The first picture above is the classic SF shot, from a place called Alamo Park. Those little Victorian houses are called the Painted Sisters, or something like that. You might remember this view from the opening sequence to Full House, or maybe you've just seen it on a thousand postcards. I love taking pictures that look like postcards. It means I'm doing something right to get a shot that someone would be willing to put a stamp on and mail back home.
The Golden Gate Bridge seemed to always be shrouded in fog. I was lucky enough to get back to it on my last day in SF (this was taken on the second day), and it was clear that time. Stay tuned for those shots.
The coastline around the Golden Gate Bridge is remarkably undeveloped. I think part of that is foresight by the city, the stewardship of the US government who long held this spot as a military base, and lots of blind luck. I certainly intend to spend more time here on the next trip. Ever turn of the trail yields an incredible new vista.
This was probably my favorite shot of the whole trip. I actually have a framed print of this hung on the wall of the condo. These are the cables that support the deck of the bridge. I stuck the camera out there and pointed it up. Nothing fancy, but it looks cool. The year I turned 13, my dad took me to California. He was a truck driver at the time, and we got out there in about four days, spent a few night in a hotel awaiting a return load, then headed back. We didn't get to stop many places, but I remember driving across the fabled Golden Gate Bridge. i was surprised that what I had always thought were single giant cables holding up the bridge were actually four distinct cables. Maybe that's why I took this shot almost 20 years after that first visit. By the way, today is Dad's birthday. Happy birthday, Dad!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

AirFest 2007-Part Sixteen

Now I've got what I think are some of the coolest photos I got all day at AirFest last Saturday. Since sometime in the 90's, a fan favorite at airshows has been the Heritage Flight. Combat aircraft from different eras fly in formation as a salute to the aviation tradition. It's pretty incredible to see prop planes and jet aircraft flying side-by-side, the prop planes flying full speed, while the jets are at something close to stall speed. This was the first time I'd seen four aircraft in the formation, though. Previously I'd only seen three. But what beautiful airplanes! The F-15, the F-16, the F-86 and the P-51. Too cool.

AirFest 2007-Part Fifteen

Continuing on with the high-powered fighter jets, here's the F-16. You've seen plenty of pictures of them before, so I wanted to highlight these that showed the water vapor condensing in the shock waves. I tried to concentrate on these while shooting, and I think I got some decent shots of it. I wish I knew more about the physics of it. I didn't see it on the F-15 nearly so much, pretty much only on the wingtips, but this F-16 seems to have it all over. Top of the body, bottom of the plane around the engine intake, across the wings, wingtips, all over. I've seen pictures of it nearly enveloping the plane recently, but I didn't see anything like that. I did notice that it doesn't seem to happen in straight, level flight. It occurs when the planes tried to turn. Perhaps I should have gone into aeronautics.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Look, Up In The Sky!

I love the crowd shots you get at airshows. I had a hard time tearing my lens away from the planes in the sky at AirFest, but I had to do it once or twice just so I could try to get some crowd reaction. You'll notice that everyone in the crowd is wearing sunglasses. Well, I don't wear sunglasses. I find that it keeps me from getting good pictures. My glasses have a little bit of a tint to them, but not a whole lot. Sometimes it makes my life difficult, but other times, it's so worth it, being able to see exactly what I'm shooting.

AirFest 2007-Part Fourteen

I believe this was the first glimpse I had all day of the F-86 Sabre, flying in formation with the P-51 I brought you earlier. And this isn't the only time you're going to see these guys in the air together, but I don't want to spoil the surprise.

AirFest 2007-Part Thirteen

We're starting to get to some of the real firepower now. I believe this is the F-15, but I've been known to get these names and numbers wrong before. So if I'm wrong, please correct me. I only saw Top Gun once. Anyhow, this was, as always, a real treat to watch. Back and forth it flew, each time doing something a little bit different, each time drawing plenty of ooh's and ahh's from the crowd. I just love when the water vapor condenses in a shock wave that streams off the wing tips. And getting a picture of the fire coming out the engines? Bonus! The only thing else I really wanted was to get a clear shot of the compression waves coming out of the engines, but it's tough to see in daylight. Well, tough for the camera to see anyhow.

Self Portrait

Just in case you're wondering, here's what I look like as a hubcap. This was shot at AirFest, as I was walking past a tractor-trailer with a Navy simulator ride on the back. For some reason, I just can't resist taking pictures of myself reflected in something shiny. And yes, I have no fashion sense...

AirFest 2007-Part Twelve

Just a couple of quick shots of the next plane up in the air at AirFest last Saturday. This is Crazy Horse, a P-51 Mustang. He put on a little bit of a show, but nothing much. His best performance came a little later in the day, so stay tuned...
If I'm correct, this is the same plane I saw at Sun 'N Fun last year. Same angle, too...

Monday, April 02, 2007

AirFest 2007-Part Eleven

Bear with me for this post. There are a ton of pictures here but I wanted to show you what I saw. This plane is called Ditto and it's a T-28. What makes it unique is the smoke. Plenty of planes have smoke, even the paratroopers had smoke. But none of them looked like this. Look closely and you'll see the smoke is coming from the wing tips. Most planes produce their smoke by injecting paraffin into the exhaust. It makes a white smoke that quickly dissolves and is environmentally friendly. On this plane, they somehow make the smoke at the wingtips, making a double trail. What I don't know is if they use something other than paraffin. The trails behind this plane seemed to hold together longer than the normal single trails. And they behaved like living creatures!
See how the trails directly behind the plane are already starting to curl up? I think it has something to do with the air currents behind the plane. But wouldn't they be extremely turbulent? I would expect the smoke to curl up and dissipate.

The longer the smoke hung in the air, the weirder it's behavior. In spots, the two trails would join up, forming actual smoke rings. You could actually see it happening. I was having a hard time snapping pictures, because I was too intrigued by the behavior of the smoke. I eventually quit shooting the plane, and just shot the smoke as it twisted in on itself in ways that just didn't seem natural.
Once in a while, the rings would form in just the right spot, and the pilot would fly back through them, effectively tying the trails in a knot.

The cohesiveness of this smoke was just incredible.

I hope this guy shows up again at another airshow. I don't think these pictures do justice to what I saw out there.

Sarasota Last Night

I took this shot last night while waiting for the moon to rise. I wish it had a bird more exciting that a seagull in it, but it doesn't. Oh, well.

Gators:1, Ohio: 0

Another week, another championship game. Once again, let me illustrate my loyalty with a picture of me from college. The lady is Ann, who didn't actually play Alberta. But oddly enough, both of the woman who did perform as Alberta with me were named Anne.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Volume 10 For Hi-Fi Living

Just when you were starting to think I'd never get back into posting these, here's the next record in the set! Sorry it's been so long, but I've been spending my weekends out taking pictures so I haven't had a lot of time to spend here at the turntable. This one is pretty good, as far as the series goes. This is also the first one that isn't an actual orchestra, it's all performed on a pipe organ. So why don't you be my guest and download Jocelyn McNeil At The Pipe Organ-Very Hi-Fi Organ-Volume 10 For Hi-Fi Living (RCA Custom RAL-1010, 1957). Only two more of these to go, hopefully I'll get them out to you before I go to California in June. :)

UPDATE: according to the folks over at Space Age Pop, Jocelyn McNeil is non other than our old friend George Wright. I'm not sure where they got that info, but they usually know their stuff. I'll have to look into this more deeply. I know Wright recorded for Hi-Fi around this time, as well as for Dot, and the cover photo is credited as being taken at Radio City, but beyond that, I'm at a loss. Hmmm, says the same thing here. Maybe it's true.


I mentioned last night that it was almost a full moon, and sure enough, tonight was the full moon. I set up the camera and shot it with all of my tricks, and this is the best I could get. I even used the time-delay feature on my camera, so that after I pressed the shutter button, I could let go of the camera and it would have time to stop wobbling before it snapped the picture. Anyhow, I'm pretty pleased with the result. Now I just have to wait for that eclipse in August...

AirFest 2007-Part Ten

I knew what was coming, and I still missed it. I've seen this particular plane several times at airshows, and each time he does the same fake bombing runs. I tried my best to get the explosion and the plane in the same shot, but I failed. Each time the explosion was too far behind the plane, and I was zoomed in too tight. I didn't even get any of the actual flames in any of my pictures. Each time I was concentrating on the plane instead. So you get two pictures instead of the single shot I wanted. This plane is named Panchito, and it's a B-25 bomber.