Category Archives: Video

Wings Over Camarillo 2021 – Arrival Day

This site has a metric ton of pictures from previous years’ Wings Over Camarillo airshows – just “Search.” Last year we didn’t have a show due to COVID-19. For the longest time I didn’t think we would have one this year, but sort of at the last minute (meaning four or five months ago, instead of the usual 9-12 months of planning and preparation) they decided to go for it and have it anyway. We’ll see how that works out…

The CAF SoCal Wing is one of the big sponsors and participants of the WOC show, so naturally we’re throwing everything we can at it. Again, given that we’re just coming out of 18 months of shutdown, including pickling all of our aircraft to preserve them while they’re not flying, and then working frantically for the past month or so to un-pickle them, this has been hectic. There are a few things that we normally do which we didn’t have the time or staff to do this year (lots of our docents and members are still staying away due to COVID and the Delta variant, which is 100% understandable) but hopefully it won’t be too many things that folks will be disappointed to do without.

The big question will be how many people will show up? We’ll know tomorrow.

Meanwhile, today I was out at the hangar getting all of the finance stuff prepped. It was also “arrival day,” when most of the planes from other airports fly in and get positioned.

I took a few quick photos. (Hey, the Chiefs were playing their Week Two pre-season game at 17:00 – priorities!)

Our ramp is littered with aircraft – a good thing! How many can you identify? (Click to see the full sized photo.)

These speakers are set up along the flight line about every 50 feet – I keep hearing the M*A*S*H announcer’s voice – “Attention. Attention. All personnel. Our movie tonight will be ‘My Darling, Clementine’ in the mess tent at Oh Nineteen Hundred hours…”

Jason’s MIG, one of our SNJ’s, and China Doll. Off in the distance, tents and booths as far as the eye can see…

And a video of a fast mover:

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Filed under Airshows, CAF, Panorama, Photography, Video

War Zone

The Fourth of July. Last year’s celebration were muted, at best, due to COVID. This year we have to celebrate (I guess?) extra hard, first to make up for last year, second because we survived. There might be a few other things to celebrate this year as well, like the fact that we still have a country.

Anyway, despite the fact that we’re in a severe drought, it’s dry as a bone, it’s been hot as hell, and all of these fireworks are illegal as hell – it was a freakin’ war zone out there for two or three hours. Still some going off now after 23:00.

Here’s what a small sample looks like.

Here’s what a small sample (different sample than the one shown above, to be clear) sounded like.

And here’s what the finale from the Warner Center show (or possibly the Pierce College show) looked like, the iPhone flipping in and out of focus, from about six miles away.

Happy Birthday, America.

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Filed under Fireworks, Video

Cackling Raven

I’m sure there are actual official names for the sounds that this raven is making, but I don’t know them, so I’m going to go with “cackling.”

He was probably 40-50 feet overhead and just sounding off in all of his glory. Of course, so were the wind, the lawnmowers (tomorrow is trash day, so most of the gardeners are out in front of it), the motorcycles, the planes overhead…

I think you can still hear him, sounds a lot like some exotic percussion instrument from South America, clacking and clicking his staccato clattering. (Although the compression that YouTube uses might have wiped out some of the finer audio details.) In particular, at about the 16-20 second marks it comes through, and again just before the end at about 0:26.

I hope you can hear him!

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Filed under Critters, Photography, Video

Red Winged Blackbirds

We see them here, but not up by the house, although I can hear them sometimes. There’s a marshy area down at the bottom of the hill, about a quarter mile as the crow flies, a catch basin where a stream comes out of Bell Canyon behind Castle Peak and turns into what will become the Los Angeles River in a mile or so after it joins up with a couple other streams. It’s right across the street from the baseball and soccer fields and we always heard them there when the kids were playing.

In the last week they’ve returned to the Sapsucker Woods location where the Cornell Lab FeederWatch Cam is set up. I hadn’t seen any for the first two or three months I had been watching the feed (i.e., the depths of winter) but there are quite a few of them there now. In addition to the ones that you see at the feeder, sometimes four or five at a time, you can hear them sounding off in the background almost constantly.

(Video from Cornell Lab FeederWatch Cam at Sapsucker Woods)

It’s an extremely calming noise, harkening back to time spent relaxing or exploring while camping or hiking.

Next thing to watch for – when will the ice break on Sapsucker Woods Pond?


Filed under Critters, Video

Someone Hates Rainbows – Or He Hates Me

My money’s on me…

Just after the rainbow pictures from yesterday, I noticed a woodpecker out in the neighbor’s tree, then in ours. I was trying (with marginal success) to get some pictures and in the process suddenly noticed that someone was LOUD and appeared to be seriously pissed off with me (sound up!) –

The way he started circling made it clear to me that he didn’t like me being in the yard – what have I ever done to him?

The video stops when I shut down the iPhone to try to get some pictures of him with the good camera in the other hand. He kept squawking at me for another 10 or 15 seconds, but as soon as I brought up the camera with the telephoto lens, he was outta there!

Crows can be very smart – I wonder if he saw the device with the big snout pointed at him (my camera, not my face…wiseass) and thought that it might be a weapon. Unless he stops by again to yell at me and deigns to chat, I guess we’ll never know.

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Filed under Critters, Video

Sixty Seconds Of Rain

It’s finally arrived after days of anticipation – the first big rain of the season in SoCal. Here – enjoy sixty seconds of the cool (47°F), dark, sounds of the rain in the back yard:


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Filed under Video, Weather

The Great Conjunction – December 22nd & The Clouds Return

We had a good run! What was it, eight days in a row of clear and a million-ish? Including yesterday, the actual day of the conjunction?

But by this afternoon, it looked iffy.

By this evening, it looked doubtful.

And by forty-five minutes after sunset, when I normally start shooting?

There were a couple of minutes when I could just barely spot Jupiter through the clouds using binoculars, but I never saw Saturn at all, and I never saw Jupiter with the naked eye. The clouds were just too thick, and getting worse.

Now it looks like we might get clouds and even some rain (which we desperately need!) over the next few days. We’ll see.

In the meantime, y’all can keep your eyes peeled for clear skies in your neighborhood. Just after sunset – look to the southwest – better with binoculars – going to be around until mid-January, slowly pulling apart but still beautiful.


Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space, Video

The Great Conjunction – December 21st

Merry Solstice, y’all! And a Happy Yule to everyone!

Today was the day, Jupiter and Saturn closer than the width of the full Moon. About 1/10th of the width of the full Moon, to be exact. Hasn’t been visible from Earth like this for something like 800 years, won’t be visible again for another 60 years.

To the naked eye, once it got dark you could separate the two, but they were definitely a “double planet.”

View with the 70mm setting on the 70-300mm zoom lens. (Remember, click on the images to see them full sized.)

Zoomed in a bit, which I took as much because there was a plane there as for anything else. (Yes, I’m easily amused.)

As soon with a 300mm zoom lens. You can compare this with pictures taken and posted here over the past couple of weeks. Three of Jupiter’s Galilean moons visible – Europa is very near Jupiter on the lower right, Io is very close on the upper left, Callisto is further out on the upper left. Technically Ganymede is also visible since it was passing in front of the planetary disk of Jupiter, but you might have trouble seeing it with the Hubble Space Telescope, let alone using my 300mm off-brand telephoto lens.

I did not take any still photos through the eyepiece of my 8″ Newtonian telescope using my iPhone. Instead I had an idea late this afternoon when I was seeing so many friends across the country saying they were clouded out and couldn’t see a thing. My telescope was set up, but instead of using my phone to take pictures, I used my phone to have a 40+ minute Facebook Live session!

The question wasn’t whether or not it was a stupid idea – the question was whether or not it was stupid enough!

I’ve uploaded the whole thing, warts and all, no editing. There were times when I was taking pictures with the DSLR and you get to listen to me blather on with nothing more to look at than the back of the camera and the neighbors’ dark yards. There was a time when someone from down the street wandered by and I offered them a look, so I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on in “the show.” You’ll hear me answering questions that came up on the chat and talking to old high school friends, family members, and friends from work.

It’s sort of a hot mess. (That’s why God invented the fast forward and rewind buttons!) I haven’t looked at it yet, just lived it live, but I had a tremendous amount of fun doing it.

The video that came from me holding the phone camera up to the eyepiece – meh quality, at best.

Saturn is elongated, you can see the Galilean moons, but that’s about it. Go check out the saved broadcasts from Griffith Observatory, Lowell Observatory, and others for the good stuff.

The Moon looked nice as I was shutting down after Jupiter and Saturn were setting. But the image quality could be much better with the right equipment. (New life goals…)

Remember, this was not a one-day thing or something that’s over. As much as the two planets have been coming slowly together for the past several weeks, they’ll slowly drift apart over the next several weeks. They’re also both moving toward the point where they go on the other side of the Sun from our viewpoint, so by mid-January they’ll be gone, reappearing in the morning sky in mid to late February. But that leaves three weeks for you to go out and see it yourself with your own eyes (and your own binoculars) when you get a clear evening.

Finally, there were a lot of really good photographers with really good equipment posting their photos today. Hundreds and thousands of them. Like these:

Let these planets a billion kilometers away be the sparks in the night that inspire and sustain you on this shortest day of the year, but also the longest night of the year.

“We love the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”

It’s not just words. The days get longer, and we still have the winter upon us to get through, but the cycles will continue and the warmth and light will return.


Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space, Video

The Great Conjunction – December 20th

About thirteen hours to go… The actual instant when it’s the closest will be during the day tomorrow on the US West Coast. By the time it gets dark here we’ll be about eight hours past. Not to worry – it won’t be enough of a difference for you to notice if I didn’t tell you. As for tonight, it was clear and a million in SoCal.

(As always, click on the image to see it full sized!)

At the 70mm setting on the 70-300mm zoom lens, you can just see a bit of separation still. And a plane going by above it, trailing a red streak in this 1/8 second exposure.

Up close at 300mm zoom, there are moons of both Jupiter and Saturn, as well as a background star that happens to be in the right spot to look like a 5th moon of Jupiter.

(Image from Sky & Telescope’s Jupiter’s Moons app)

Here’s what we’re supposed to be seeing…

…and here’s the center of that second image of mine, blown up to full sized and labeled.

What about through the telescope?

Oh! My! God!! I truly wish I had the equipment to show you how fantastic and amazing it looked. In addition to what I can show here below with my last minute, half assed, gee, let’s see if this might work efforts, in the eyepiece it was razor sharp, crystal clear, with horizontal bands being visible on Jupiter, the rings separated from the planet on Saturn, and Saturn’s second largest moon, Rhea, clearly visible as well as Titan.

So I started playing around with the iPhone camera settings… What did I have to lose?

(Late note – I realize from comments I’ve gotten on Facebook that I haven’t explained yet that the views below, seen through the telescope, are flipped bottom-to-top. THEY ARE! In the images above, which were taken with a camera, bright Jupiter is on the bottom and dimmer Saturn is on the top. In the images below, it’s the other way around. That’s because the optics and mirrors in a Newtonian telescope flip the image – no time to get into it here, Google it if you need, but just remember to see if it’s an image from my telescope or from my camera to orient yourself to how you might see it yourself.)

With a slightly longer exposure you can see the Galilean moons and Saturn is definitely elongated.

But if you go for a shorter exposure and don’t worry about the moons, the rings and planetary disk on Saturn start to come out!

Somewhere in the middle, you get a little bit of both. This is a real tease, making me want to get better at these and get the gear to do it right.

Finally, what happens if I try to use the iPhone video through the telescope’s eyepiece? Why, then you get something like this, which was taken when the planets were getting closer to the horizon and down in the thick air. That means it jumps around a bit and goes in and out of focus, but that also means that there are moments in the 8-second video when you can see things clearly.

Tomorrow night is the moment of conjunction – but of course, that doesn’t end this event. It just means that after weeks of slowly coming together they’ll pass that instant when they’re the closest and then start moving slowly apart. They’ll be visible in the evening sky until about January 10th or so, at which point they’ll be too close to the Sun to be seen. Saturn goes behind the Sun on January 23rd, Jupiter on January 28th, before they both re-emerge in late February in the pre-dawn sky.

Clear skies, happy viewing, I hope all of you get to take a look tomorrow (or in the days following) to see this magnificent sight!


Filed under Astronomy, Photography, Space, Video

The 2020 Christmas Tree

We all know that the year sucked. But we’re desperately trying to keep some sense of normalcy in our Christmas decorating – primarily because it’s a last ditch attempt to submit to the horror and ennui.

Today was the day we put up the tree. I tried to play with the process a bit in some Facebook posts.

The first thing I noticed is that it seemed much shorter than in previous years. First troubleshooting step is to assume operator error!

Taller now, but seems to be strangely darker and less festive than nominal…

Very much better, complete with white lights, colored lights, bubble lights, and the most eclectic mix of ornaments covering nearly forty years that you’ve ever seen. No “theme” here (I remember a year as a child when my mother went nuts on a theme and got a white flocked tree, no green at all, and then put red spherical ornaments all over – it was very Malaria Trump-ish) other than the theme of “This Is The Willett Family History.”

One new ornament that I just got (after seeing a pilot/JPL acquaintance on Twitter get one and show it off):

Finally, this year we got the tree set up properly in the middle of the living room show window that looks out onto the front yard and street.


Filed under Christmas Lights, Photography, Video