Thursday, April 26, 2007

No Two Ways About It

Well, I just discovered a problem. My PC has been recording in mono. I went to record a track from Henri Rene's Stereo Action record, Dynamic Dimensions, and the on-screen wave representation didn't look right. So I dug up one of those old stereo demonstration discs, tried to record it, and sure enough, it's recording in mono. I don't know how long it's been doing this. I traced the problem to a cable plugged into the sound card on the back of the PC, though. Replugging it seems to have fixed the problem, thankfully. But I don't know how long this has been a problem. I don't studiously look at the waves on screen, so I'm not sure I would have noticed a problem. If you've downloaded anything from me and thought it sounded funny, please let me know. The Hi-Fi Living series I've been sharing out since January is in mono anyway, so there's no problem there, but any of the other stuff I've been sharing could be a problem. I'm hoping this doesn't go all the back to Christmas, but you never know. So please, let me know if you have anything you downloaded from here that's not in stereo, and you think it should be. What a pain...

Sun-N-Fun 2007-Part 7

I took so many pictures at Sun-N-Fun, I don't even know where to start posting. Here's something that I thought was pretty cool. See the guy on the biplane above?
See the spindly little helicopter? You might recognize this as Otto, who you saw during the Airfest at Macdill.
Now, why do you suppose that helicopter is flying that close to the biplane?
Yep, the guy grabbed hold of the helicopter and made the transfer. It only took three tries. Actually, it took three tries each time I saw them do the trick, as if it were planned that way... Hmmm...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Virginia (9/50)

Here's another license plate for you, and again I spotted it at Sun-N-Fun. I've never seen a plate promoting private aviation before, but there are plates for everything else. Something I learned at the airshow is that a Pitts Special is a great plane for flying aerobatics. And what do you know, they look a lot like that little plane on the plate.
Took me a while to find a picture of these planes. This is from Sun-N-Fun 2006. Not sure why I couldn't find a picture from this year. Maybe I ignored them because I knew I got shots last year...

Previous plates: Alaska, Connecticut, New York, Maine, Hawaii, Washington, Ohio, Wisconsin.

Sun-N-Fun 2007-Part 6

You'd have missed this if you weren't paying close attention, but I spotted it. This autograph was on a nose section of a B-29 that was displayed at the Sun-N-Fun party. For those of you who don't know, Paul Tibbets was the pilot of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb.

Monday, April 23, 2007

When In Berkeley

Where do I intend to spend some of my time in Berkeley this summer? Why in two of the greatest record stores on the planet! Above is Rasputin's, and below is Amoeba. I don't remember exactly, but I think these two stores actually abut each other. I won't even get a break travelling from one to the other. There's also another Amoeba near Haight-Ashbury which I'm sure I'll hit, but at least it's on the other side of the Bay Bridge, which should give me a little while to catch my breath.

California Bloomin'

As I get ready for a trip back to the San Francisco Bay area of California in June, I want to share out some of the pictures I took there four years ago during my visit. This time, I've got some of the amazing flowers I shot then. When I first started shooting a lot, flowers were one of my most frequent subjects. They are always colorful, and they offer great details when you get up close and personal with them. Most of the species I saw in California were entirely new to me, being a lifelong Floridian. So I shot lots and lots of flowers. The folks I was there with started to give me a hard time about it, but that didn't stop me. Here are four shots that I pulled together quickly this evening to show you some of the beautiful blossoms I caught last time in SF. I hope to get many more during my trip in June.


Do you know what else they had out at Oscar Scherer yesterday? Snakes! Really big snakes. They had nothing to do with local wildlife, but they were pretty impressive.

Earth Day Is For The Birds

After going to Sun-N-Fun Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I needed a break on Sunday. But instead of staying in all day, I went out to the Earth Day celebration at Oscar Scherer State Park down in Nokomis, Florida. It's a nice little park that runs alongside a brackish creek, and is always good for a few pictures. I stumbled across their Earth Day celebration last year, so I wanted to go again this year. I wasn't disappointed! Same as last year, they had a number of groups that brought out animals for show and tell, including these four birds. Above you have the most active of the critters, a red-tailed hawk named Elvis. I know I took plenty of pictures of him last year, and I took plenty more this year. He's mighty photogenic, don't you think?
Next up is a great horned owl. I don't know why this guy appeared so sleepy. Maybe he didn't want to be up and about during the middle of the day. He was also a repeat from last year.
New at the celebration this year was a group that had a mountain lion and this bald eagle. I couldn't get any pictures of the mountain lion, as he was napping the whole time, but I did get some great shots like this one of the bald eagle. You can't appreciate how big these birds are until you're standing five feet away, and you realize he could tear off pieces of your body if he wanted to. I believe this guy's name was Thunder.
Another rerun from last year is Aurora, an American Kestrel, one of my favorite members of the raptor family. I can't get decent pictures of these guys in the wild, so I have to depend on shows like this to see them up-close. They never brought him out into the sunlight, so I wasn't able to capture the delicate blue color of the feathers on his head. But you can at least get a good idea of his small stature compared to the glove on which he's perched.

Sun-N-Fun 2007-Part 5

Dad just called and wanted to tell me about the only plane he saw from the airshow. He and Mom live up north of Lakeland, far enough from the airport that they don't get too many of the planes circling around, yet they lie under the flight path for many of the planes coming and going to the airport. He said he heard something big coming Saturday afternoon, and he had to run outside to see what it was that made all that noise. Turned out to be the B2, also known as the stealth bomber. I'm not sure how he heard it, since when I saw it and took these pictures just a few minutes earlier, it was pretty quiet. It's a very distinct plane, looking like nothing else in the sky. Well, maybe a little like the stealth fighter, but that's much, much smaller. These planes fly all of their missions from a single base in Missouri, relying on in-flight refueling to get them where they need to go, often flying missions lasting more than 24 hours. I believe this plane was called the Spirit Of Arizona, but I could be remembering that wrong...

Other Flying Things

You should have known that I couldn't go to the lake (as I mentioned in my previous post) and not shoot any birds. In between shooting the sea planes, I got a couple of feathered fellows as they patrolled the shoreline looking at these strange contraptions that occasionally joined them in the sky. Above is an osprey, of which there were quite a few circling. I couldn't see any nest, which I thought was odd for the concentration of them in the sky. Below is an anhinga, a female I believe, given the white coloring around the neck. Not as many of these, but there were still a few around.

Sun-N-Fun 2007-Part 4

I guess I really should start at the beginning. The first event I went to this year for Sun-N-Fun was the Splash-In, a gathering of sea planes on Lake Parker north of Lakeland. There were maybe two dozen planes out there, taking their turns flying in and out, or just sitting on shore giving people a chance to see these unique planes in their native environment. These planes came in all shapes and sizes, from closed to open cockpits, from full-size to ultralight, simple to complex. Some of them turned out to be just regular planes fitted with pontoons, but most of them were designed from the wingtips in for service in the water.

After leaving the Splash-In, I had lunch at Steak N Shake (big surprise!). And it turns out that the restaurant was right under the approach path of some of the bigger planes that were landing on the lake. For half an hour we were getting buzzed by all manner of craft, much to the confusion of pretty much everyone in the restaurant but me.

Sun-N-Fun 2007-Part 3

What better way to welcome visitors to an airshow than with a giant sky-written smiley face!

Sun-N-Fun 2007-Part 2

OK, it's time for me to start putting up some of the pictures I shot during my three days at the Sun-N-Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Florida, this past weekend. I took thousands and thousands of pictures, and maybe got ten good ones. Well, OK, more than that, but I have to shoot a lot of pictures in order to get some that I like. One of the special presentations this year was a flyover by a B1 bomber. This guy made two passes on Friday, then disappeared. I guess there were some insurgents in Afghanistan or something that needed his attention. I snapped this just after he poured the fuel to the afterburners, so you get a little bit of flame coming out of the engines there behind the plane.

Note-I didn't number my first post of pictures from this airshow, but you can find it here.

Alaska (8/50)

I haven't brought you any new license plates in a long time, mostly because I've been distracted by other stuff. But when I spotted this one at the air show this weekend, I knew I had to get it up here. You don't see too many Alaska plates here in Florida. You do see a few though, quite a few more than you see from Hawaii, actually. This is the first one I've seen with this design, though. Most of them have a dog sled race running up the middle. Note that this one is actually current. I can't imagine someone driving down from Alaska for an airshow, but stranger things have happened.

Previous plates: Connecticut, New York, Maine, Hawaii, Washington, Ohio, Wisconsin.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

April Drags On

The weeks just keep coming in April. This week's picture features a great night shot of a bridge over the Cuyahoga River in Downtown Cleveland, Ohio. I wasn't sure if this shot was going to come out or not, because I was shooting it handheld and there wasn't a lot of light. But I think it came out pretty well.

AirFest 2007-Part Twenty Two

Part of the routine that the Blue Angels put on is flying past each other at extremely high speeds. They always cross near show center, but looking through the camera lens, it's tough to know when to press the shutter button to catch both planes in the same frame. I don't know how many times they did this maneuver exactly, but I caught it four times.

AirFest 2007-Part Twenty One

When I got home from the Sun-N-Fun airshow yesterday, I saw the news that one of the Blue Angels had crashed while at an airshow in SC, killing the pilot. I shot the Blue Angels at the MacDill Airfest last month, but never got the chance to post the pictures for you. Here are some of those pictures in memory of that pilot.