Category Archives: Photography

No Survivors

Long day, but some fun stuff and new sights. At the end of it all was a large ice cream treat with novel toppings.

It was called “The King Shake.” Not sure how the banana and bacon tie in with that name…

The end result had a look that reminded me of Chihuly Garden & Glass in Seattle.

On the inside, there were no survivors. But my cardiologist will be a winner!

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Filed under Photography, Travel

No Context For You – July 18th

Well, maybe a tiny little bit of context.

This isn’t exactly “Find That Lizard” quality “no context” material (that makes sense in my head – you’re on your own) but what I wanted to show you is that mask. I found them early in the pandemic and lockdown. They’re custom printed with an FAA VFR map for the area of your choice. Mine are for Camarillo Airport.

These days the folks who do these are also doing shirts, hats, pajamas, all sorts of things with your choice of maps on them. That’s clever. That’s ingenuity at work. I hope these guys are making a fortune.

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Filed under Flying, Photography

Creeping Back To Normal At CAF SoCal

It’s been a long sixteen months at the CAF SoCal hangar in Camarillo (remember, I’m still on Staff there for the 8th year as Finance Officer) but we’re slowly creeping back to normal.

Our planes were all mothballed and our museum closed. We got a lot of maintenance work done, on both the facilities and the aircraft, but it’s time to get back to our mission.

The museum is open three days a week instead of six, but we’re getting some decent visitor traffic on those three days as word spreads of our soft re-opening.

We’ve had our first aircraft rides and have more being booked for the near future.

The Camarillo Wings Association will be moving ahead with the Wings Over Camarillo airshow on August 21st and 22nd. We’ll be flying our PBJ bomber, F6F Hellcat, Spitfire, and Zero. Plus all of our other aircraft and museum and PX (and the beer garden) will be on static display down at our hangars at the west end of the ramp, along with the STEM pavilion being in our “new” hangars.

(Clickenate to embiggenate!)

From left to right: The aforementioned “new” hangars, PBJ (gray bomber), F6F Hellcat (dark blue fighter), someone’s Cessna (white plane behind the F6F), YAK-3 (gray/blue camouflage fighter), AN-2 (huge yellow biplane), C-46 (silver cargo plane), MIG-17 (red jet), SNJ (yellow trainer), jeep & trailer.

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Filed under Airshows, CAF, Panorama, Photography

On The Side Of Caution

I’m never sure if it’s me or the machine that’s failed (actually – it’s me) but I don’t want to find out that I’m slightly dead if the machine is working just fine, so generally I’ll re-take the readings.

Fortunately, it’s a known issue and the recommended workaround is just to take the reading again. It turned out fine, I’m no more dead than I am most other days.

What a relief!

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Filed under Health, Photography

Friends Of Old Friends

If you’ve been following this drivel for any length of time, you’ll remember that at our old house we had some raccoons that were regular neighbors. (Actually, “tenants” might be a better term than “neighbors” since they lived up on our roof and in our trees.) The most famous incident (and best pictures) came from the great Racoon Rescue episode, but we had then around pretty much constantly., sometimes in some not quite safe-for-work situations, which in turn led to encounters with up to five curious and trouble-making kits.

Then we moved about a mile away, but at the top of a hill.

Since we’ve been here I’ve seen pairs of raccoons in the early evening around sundown sometimes, but always at the bottom of the hill. Never up here.

Until last night.

As I had folded up the camera tripod after photographing the ISS pass, I took a couple steps toward the front door and noticed that the bushes next to the door were rustling and moving about. I thought it was a cat at first (we have feral cats we see once in a while, often with a writhing lizard in its mouth) but if a feline this would have been a bobcat, not a house cat. Nope, not a cat. Instead, out wandered a raccoon that was almost as big as a mid-sized dog. He/she was ignoring me but headed over to the flower beds (I should have been wondering why those were being dug up) but freaked a bit when I pulled out my camera and grabbed a couple of pictures with the flash.

It’s a lousy shot, but under the circumstances and with the equipment at hand, good enough.

So – they will climb the hill. Duly noted.

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Filed under Critters, Photography

ISS Pass – July 14th

It’s “high beta-angle” season on the ISS – short version without getting into too many discussions of orbital mechanics (maybe some other time…) is that for a few days the ISS is in the sun 24/7, so if it’s in your night sky it’s highly visible. There are some great passes coming up this week for most places, sometimes both in the sunset hours an hour or two after sunset in the evening and in the pre-dawn hours in the very early morning.

(Click to see it BIG – it’s worth it!)

It came up from the south-southwest (lower right, behind the telephone pole) and headed close to the zenith (i.e., directly overhead). One problem is that honkin’ big streetlight right there, which in turn caused caused those UFO-looking lens flares at the top. They’re reflections, not UFOs, which I guess makes them IFOs.

The second problem is those two jets coming out of LAX. The one on the right is Alaska SkyWest flight #3300 headed toward Boise…

(Image from FlightRadar24 app)

…while the one on the left is Delta flight #2408 to Seattle. Bye, guys!!

(Image from FlightRadar24 app)

The bigger problem is that it was barely an hour after sunset, not very dark, a little hazy so we got some reflected light pollution dancing around. I tried at first doing 1-second photos to keep the sky from over exposing, but I was also saving photos in RAW format in addition to JPG format and with a shot every second the camera couldn’t keep up with storing the images. So I switched to 4-second exposures and hoped for the best. “The best” in this case is a bit over exposed.

But then it swung through the zenith (center right) and headed down toward the north-northeast horizon (lower left). That sky didn’t have a street light or lens flares in it, and the sky was darker to the east, so the background light didn’t overexpose the frames quite as much. And that plane is unidentified, but it sounded like a Cessna or Cirrus, probably out of Van Nuys.

Lessons learned tonight? Again, I love this lens. Not much I can do about how bright or dark the sky is. But there are a number of opportunities for great evening passes for the next few days still. If you can, check out some of the NASA or other websites for ISS tracking to see if there’s a pass for you this week, or better yet, check out the Heavens-above.com site for pass predictions and maps.

Finally, there are also a number of opportunities for great morning passes for the next few days. You won’t see any pictures of those here. I don’t get to bed until nearly 1AM and I’m up a very few short hours later. I’m not getting up at Oh-freakin’-dark-thirty just to see a morning ISS pass. Sorry!

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

Patriotic Pipe Burst

What was the third most exciting thing of your weekend? (And the absolute MOST important indicator that you really, REALLY need to get a life?)

You know those little plastic (“Made proudly in America!”) American flags that real estate agents stick by the driveway of everyone’s house for miles around just before the Fourth of July? Most of the houses on our block still have them up. So I thought it was a little bit odd, but not too much, to see two of them down the block stuck in the middle of the street. I noticed it, but I wasn’t worried about it – kids goofing around was my assumption.

An hour or so later I heard some heavy, loud engines outside, which is unusual a bit since we’re on a very narrow, very steep street climbing to the top of a very big hill. They’re out there for a while, idling, then I heard them fire up and I saw two fire trucks passing by. Which is even more rare. So I go to take a peek.

The street’s completely blocked off in both directions. Time for a stroll.

As they said on Mythbusters, “Well, THERE’s your problem!”

That’s probably 20 to 30 gallons a minute being wasted there and we’re in the middle of a huge, dangerous drought. They’ll fix that quickly, right?! Or at the very least, get the water shut off. Right?!

But it’s odd that the fire department didn’t do that. Just shut off the water. Is this a “not MY department!” situation?

It’s 15:26 on Saturday.

It’s 26 hours later. We now have cones instead of “borrowed” tiny plastic flags.

The flow has increased and is probably 40 to 60 gallons per minute. So, ballpark figures, 26 hours x 60 minutes per hour x 50 gallons per minute = 78,000 gallons wasted.

It’s Sunday at 17:25

Ooooh, look! Trucks! And it seems that they’ve finally turned off the water. Round numbers, call it 100,000+ gallons wasted.

We’re doing something. Possibly surrendering.

We’ve dug a hole and now we’re filling it. One can hope that some sort of repair was effected while the hole was open.

Thinking about it, this is at least the third or fourth time something like this has happened in the three years we’ve lived here. At what point do the future costs of simply digging up and replacing the pipe all the way up and down the hill outweigh the sunk costs in all of these little halfway measures?

Everyone’s gone, there’s “something” filling the hole (“Siri, define half-assed job…”) that I’ll be trying to miss for years in order to save my car’s suspension, and there’s mud in the street all the way up and down.

Wow. Big thrills!

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Filed under Los Angeles, Photography

Planetary Conjunction – July 12th

Celestial mechanics, right there in plain sight. Yesterday’s photos + 24 hours (give or take a few minutes).

Mars is fading, as expected. Needed binoculars to see it, and you’ll probably have to click to see the full-sized image to see it here.

There it is! Just about eight hours from their (apparent!) closest approach to each other. The word “apparent” is key here. Remember, we’re all gravitationally bound (for the moment) to giant balls of rock, water, and gas, which are in turn spinning on their axes, which in turn are in orbit at thousands of miles an hour around a small, yellow, G-class star, so while they look close together from this particular point of view, they’re actually 74,400,000 miles apart from each other.

This is much closer, which is why even with a relatively simple and cheap camera system you can see craters and other features.

Aside from all of that, it’s simply very pretty to look at in the cooling evening sunset.

Then our 3rd rock from the Sun spins from in front of this view back over my head and behind us, causing the planets and Moon to appear to sink below the western horizon.

There they go, down behind the trees! Once they get down into the muck and coastal haze and we’re looking through a thick chunk of the atmosphere, it’s amazing how much the color from Mars varies every second or two. Mostly a dark orange, but sometimes much less red color and sometimes almost white for a second or two.

While the Moon, exposed to bring out detail at the terminator, is a fingernail crescent…

…and exposed to bring out the Earthshine, starts to also share the sky with some of the other background stars in the constellation Leo. (That’s Al Jabbah [Eta Leonis] to the upper left of the Moon, a white supergiant star about 2,000 light years from Earth.)

If you couldn’t look tonight or tried and got foiled by the weather or clouds, try to look tomorrow night! Let me know if you saw this!

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

From Left To Right – Mars – Venus – Crescent Moon

I think I gave a heads up about this a month or so ago but it snuck up on me.

Mars (getting faint, reddish) on the left of Venus (bright white) with the two-day old crescent Moon (it’s the moon-ish looking thing over by the phallic tree, duh) lined up as advertisec.

Could have gone out and caught them a few minutes earlier, but then Mars would have been pretty washed out in the sunset. As it was I never saw Mars with the naked eye, but it was easily visible in binoculars.

Over the next few days Mars will get more dim and start sinking toward the horizon. It will be going around the far side of the Sun from our viewpoint, so if you have anything you want to tell your Martian rover or orbiter, now would be a really good time to do so. In a week or so it will be out of touch for a month or so.

Venus will be getting brighter and higher in the sky for another month or so, then starting its trip back around the gravitational race track and too near the Sun to be seen.

Tonight I had to shift a bit and put that tall tree between the Moon and the planets so that I could get one more set of photos before the Moon was down behind the trees. Stupid planetary rotation…

Taking individual close ups, the Moon was very cresecenty and had some details and craters visible along the terminator.

If I had better equipment and could get a better, more detailed picture of Venus, you would see that it’s in a crescent phase exactly like the Moon’s phase. It’s a geometry thing over 186,000,000 miles. (Give or take a couple million.)

As always, if click on the photos you’ll get to see them in full-screen or full size.

Also, as always, if you missed it tonight it will still (sorta) be there tomorrow night and every night at sunset for a few days, taking into account the above notes about Mars getting dimmer and sinking down below and past Venus (in a relative way) and the Moon moving up into the sky and getting more towards a quarter moon every day.

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Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space

No Context For You – July 08th

To about 99.99% of us, this is a “You took this picture on purpose? WHY??” image. It’s ordinary, routine, boring, background, about as noteworthy and memorable as a bucket of old, cold, filthy mop water.

To about 00.01% of us, that’s exactly why the picture got taken. It’s routine and ordinary, but it’s a tiny bit of life that will someday be forgotten, a jumble of detail that actually say quite a bit about us with its patterns and flaws.

And having one of those brains, I can’t help but wonder what an alien intelligence would make of it, desperate for information about us, trying to understand and learn. How many boring, routine, ordinary pictures like this would it take to build up a semi-detailed picture or simulation of our world, to fill it with context?

But it’s just one picture, without explanation, without the accompanying Muzak. No context for you, at least not without much more content to build an overarching context in which this image adds additional context.

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Filed under Paul, Photography