The remaining days of our Bahamas vacation were a mostly spent at the Atlantis water park. All of the slides were now open! That's good because by now, all of the cruise ships (up to 5 at a time) have been returning to Nassau after Irene altered their schedules. This meant a large influx of visitors, and having more rides open reduces the lines. However, the best line reducer is a cloudburst!
Sunspot group 1261 has had a busy week unleashing at least 3 M-class solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) toward the Earth last week. While still year from solar max, this is quite a bit of activity. I took a photo of the sun and sunspot group 1261 from my deck last week:
The culmination of my Air2Air Photography class at the Historic Flight Foundation was flying in the HFF's B-25 Mitchell, taking air to air photographs of either their F7F Tigercat or their P-51B Mustang. The Tigercat flight takes place over the Puget Sound to mimic the South Pacific theater, and the Mustang flight over the Cascades to replicate the European Alps. had registered for the P-51 flight as I thought there would be more dynamics to shooting the Mustang with mountains behind.
In the weeks before my flight, I was getting increasingly nervous about the entire event. Approaching this as a once-in-a-lifetime event, I was taking every precaution I could think of to ensure the best possible results from my 15-30 minutes of shooting in the air. I was actually losing sleep over it, having strange equipment failure anxiety dreams!
I'm a pretty unimpulsive person. I like to approach things in a calculated manner with no surprises, however last week, that all went out the window. A close friend of ours win a week's use of a condo in Las Vegas and invited us to go, not thinking that we'd actually take them up on it. But we did! They had an entire extra suite at their disposal. The trick was that I was still had to work, and my son still had school.
The hemming and hawing of the decision had to be made by 2:30pm in order to make the last Allegiant flight out of Bellingham in time, and it was nearing 2pm. I consulted with my manager and it was allowed that I was OK to work my 8 hours from the condo in a staggered fashion. C is going well in school, so we figured we could swing it. So at 2pm Jenn clicked 'submit' on the ticket order page and we had 30 minutes to pack.
This Friday and Saturday I took part in the Historic Flight Foundations first 'Air 2 Air' photography class. The Air 2 Air class is designed to give aviation enthusiasts a chance to learn about techniques, equipment and skills needed to take part in air-to-air photography for fun and possibly profit. The course included instruction from air-to-air photographers as well as trade magazines. I had a blast in the class, but the high point of the experience takes place on June 4, when I get to fly in the HFF's B-25 bomber and shoot air-to-air photographs of their P-51 and Spitfire, or their Tigercat and Bearcat. I'm very excited, but I am also a bit apprehensive. The techniques involved are challenging, and I really have only one shot at this (it's not every day one gets to fly in a B-25 and photograph war birds in formation).
Every year, dozens upon dozens of bizjets descend on Boeing Field for Bill Gates' annual CEO Summit, and this year was no exception. I completely forgot about it until I checked the flight trackers, which I do almost religiously each morning, to see what flights were heading for KBFI in the next few hours in case something interesting was enroute. On Wednesday, KBFI's tracker looked like an airport for a major city with a huge number of inbound flights. I thought I was looking at the wrong city:
For almost 5 years, my standard lens for aviation shooting has been my Canon 70-200mm F/4 L, which has been a trusty lens, very sharp, and a good length on the APS-C sensor on my 30D (112mm x 320mm equiv). However, switching to the 5D mark II has reduced the range. For a while now I've been contemplating the Canon 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 IS L lens, which is very popular among planespotters for its range and sharpness.
With a mostly free day and the potential for partly cloudy skies, I decided it might be a good day to go to the Univerisity of Washington and photograph the cherry blossoms in the Quad. Its been about 4 years since the last time I did. Unfortunately, this idea also occured to approximately 63% of the population of Seattle.
I spent a few hours watching the local traffic at KBFI (I can't resist), which yielded some decent shots of two 787's and other riff-raff. After that I headed up to the UW to the quad. I should have known how big the crowds would be based on the lack of parking. I ended up across the street from my old hang out and place of work, the building that formerly housed the "ACC", the Academic Computing Center. Oh the hours I wasted in there....
The crowds in the Quad were more than I have ever seen, despite the overcast skies. Everyone had a camera. The crowd, expectedly, was mostly Asian, but of nearly every country, not just Japanese. There were a number of wedding parties and people getting their photos taken by professionals, taking advantage of the free, amazing backdrop.