Category Archives: Photography

ISS Pass – July 16th

Heads up North American peeps! It looks like another great week for ISS passes, both in the evenings and in the mornings. Most nights this week, both. (No, you will *NOT* be seeing any pictures from me at 04:00, no matter how great the pass is. Maybe when I’m retired and can count on a nice afternoon nap…)

(Images combined using StarStax)

The good – I absolutely nailed the positioning of the camera to catch the ISS coming up in the southwest. If you click to get the full-sized image and look down in the lower left corner you can see the station coming out from behind that tree with the first image in the stack. (I start snapping photos about 20-30 seconds before I expect to see the ISS – digital memory is cheap.)

I also like the two aircraft tracks along the bottom. Those are almost certainly jumbo jets coming into LAX from Asia. Their normal flight route has them coming down the Pacific coast until they get off of Malibu (to the left in this view) where they make a 90° left turn toward downtown LA on their downwind leg.

The bad – I still consistently underestimate the size of the field of view of the camera. The intent was to keep snapping photos until I was SURE that the ISS had passed out of the fixed field of view so that I would have a trail from one edge of the frame to the other. Obviously I stopped too soon, probably by 25-30 seconds. (These are one-second exposures.)

Also, it seems too dark. Yes, I know that I took pictures of a dark sky at night. Still, those palm trees that you can barely see are lit up by street lights and really should be more visible. Which makes me wonder if the lens was stopped down a little bit and I didn’t know it. Something to check for next time, which I think is tomorrow.

Passing almost straight overhead, again I badly misjudged how big the frame is. But just below the start of the trail (ISS was moving from left to right, SW to NE) you can see the Big Dipper hanging down.

Finally disappearing down behind the cypress trees, the ISS headed off toward Denver.

Bye! Until tomorrow night, or 04:17:44 this morning! (By which I mean “tomorrow night!!”)

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

No Context For You – July 15th

Distortion, texture, light.

It’s how we perceive reality, yet it can all be so flawed.

Tomorrow, a new day, to make new mistakes, to make new discoveries, to wonder about it all.


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Filed under Paul, Photography


While we don’t own one ourselves at the CAF SoCal Wing, a number of our members personally own T-34 “Mentor” trainers.

They often fly with us in formation, such as when we use our PBJ bomber to do a flyover of a UCLA or USC or Rams football game.

I think they were practicing formation flight yesterday. Whatever it was, there were three of them lined up on our ramp and looking great.

The T-34 was built in the 1950’s to train our military pilots and used through the 1960’s.

It’s a nice plane.

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Vermont Panorama – Fields O’ Green

We weren’t exactly “lost” – I knew we were still in Vermont since we hadn’t crossed Lake Champlain into New York, the Connecticut River into New Hampshire, or run into any border guards that might wonder why we were trying to get into Canada.

But for the third (fourth?) time that day, while I was quite sure I knew where I was and where I was headed, a quick check of the map on my phone before driving off again showed that I had missed a turn and passed my destination by about ten miles. As lovely as Canada is, it was time for a course correction.

But before I pulled that quick U-turn (and wound up on that one-lane dirt road for about eight miles, wondering if we would ever see pavement again but enjoying the absolutely stunning scenery) I took in this view:

(Click the image to see it full sized)

We were way north of Cabot and a long way west of the Connecticut River, but I still wonder if those big, tall mountains waaaaaaaay off on the horizon might be in New Hampshire. Probably not. Maybe on a more clear day, but then we wouldn’t have this wonderful interplay of white clouds and green mountains, sunlight and shadow, and the threat of rain in the distance.

Fair trade.

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Vermont Panorama – Small Town Parade Gathering

The parade’s an hour or so away. All of the fire trucks from miles around are gathering, the trailer and paper mache floats are being towed into place, the classic cars are rolling into town, and the various civic groups from the Shriners to the Elks to the Boy Scouts are finding their spots in the parade lineup.

(Click to enbiggenate!)

Along the parade route, through the town square here and in both directions along the main road that follows the river, folks with lawn chairs and coolers are staking out their spots. This isn’t Pasadena on New Year’s Eve. No need to start defending your territory a day or two in advance. There’s plenty of room for a front row seat – although the spots in the shade are at a premium.

Even the guy with the goat doesn’t seem too out of place.

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Vermont Panorama – Marshfield Dam Reservoir

You might find yourself north on US Highway 2 from the Montpelier area up through Marshfield (and you MUST stop at Rainbow Sweets!!), perhaps headed toward Cabot to get some cheese and you find a wonderful little park with a place to launch a boat…

(Click to see The Big Picture!)

Out there, if you look very closely, you’ll see the head of a loon floating along. The bird, not the loon behind the camera.

Maybe next time you’ll bring a kayak and make a day of it, looking to go out cruising with the loons, looking for a moose in the shallows at sundown. If you get some English toffee or jalapeno cheddar, it’s gravy.

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Vermont Panorama – Connecticut River

Along the east side of Vermont, separating it from New Hampshire, runs the Connecticut River. Following the river for almost all of that border are US Highway 5 and a set of train tracks.

(Click to see full-sized image)

This is up in the Norwich area, just north of White River Junction. The slice of New Hampshire you see on the other side of the river is just north of Hanover, NH, home of Dartmouth College.

We didn’t go there – the computer department might have a long memory…

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