Rose of Sharon – The National Flower of South Korea

Rose of Sharon - Menlo Park - 2013

This afternoon brought the horrible news of the crash of Asiana Flight 214 – a Boeing 777-200ER with tail number HL7742 – while landing at San Francisco International Airport. The day couldn’t have been more perfect weather wise – so one has to wonder what the cause might be.

As I was editing some photos earlier today, I wanted to try out a new black and white post-processing technique and had picked a recent image I’d taken here in Menlo Park a few days ago of a Rose of Sharon flower – actually a double-flower which is what had caught my eye and caused me to take the shot while on the go with my iPhone 5.

This new technique for post-processing black and white is all about the tonality of the image – and this seemed to be a good one to practice on. So I loaded the image into Photoshop CC and began my editing.

As I was getting ready to share the image online, I did a quick Wikipedia search and discovered that Rose of Sharon – formally “Hibiscus syriacus” – is the national flower of South Korea. I had also just learned – from Twitter – that there were now two confirmed deaths in the Asiana crash. Not sure what this all means – but somehow this image came together this afternoon around the same time I learned of the tragic result. My heart goes out to all of those affected by today’s unfortunate incident.

Heading Home

Heading Home - Endeavour - 2012 (B+W #3)

Here’s a final photo of the space shuttle Endeavour departing Menlo Park and heading for Moffett Field and points south.

This version – the last of the shots I took Friday morning as Endeavour passed overhead – shows a wonderful sun angle complemented by treatment in Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 and Adobe’s Lightroom 4 to darken the sky and kick up the contrast just a bit. A friend suggested it needed some clouds in the sky – but I don’t think so!

Seeing Endeavour pass overhead was a special experience for me – an emotional one. Hard to believe that we’ve now retired these amazing orbiters – the ones we came to marvel at when they launched so beautifully in the Florida sky and that we wept for when they didn’t return home again. Endeavour’s now heading home. I hope the spirit of the space shuttle program lives on – it was an amazing time!

Endeavour Again

Space Shuttle Endeavour - Menlo Park - 2012

Here’s another view of the space shuttle Endeavour on its tribute flight over Menlo Park – this version in black and white.

This was shot as the shuttle and its 747 carrier aircraft were departing to the south heading toward the flyover at Moffett Field. The sky was darkened with a red filter and adjusted using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2. It’s got such a completely different mood with this treatment!

Once again with this shot, I was lucky that the aircraft were turning in towards me – providing the illusion that I was almost flying alongside!

The Tribute Flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour

Space Shuttle Endeavour - Menlo Park - 2012

On its final flight, NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour overfly’s Menlo Park onboard the 747-100 shuttle carrier aircraft N105NA. This was the last flight for both the shuttle orbiter and the 747.

This image was shot from one of the hills in Menlo Park’s Bedwell Bayfront Park – with me being among several hundred others who had gathered on the park’s hilltops for this tribute flight.

I was very lucky to get this shot. The 747 had begun a gentle turn to the right, just dropping its right wing – which gave the illusion that I was flying right alongside – instead of standing on a hill in a park! Beautiful!

Shot using a Canon 5D Mark II using a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens with a Canon 1.4x Tele-extender. Shot in Shutter Priority at 1/1000th of a second, ISO 100, f/5.6.

Post processed in Adobe Lightroom 4 where it was cropped to at 16:9 ratio and adjusted using a bit of clarity applied just to the aircraft with the adjustment brush with a bit of post-crop vignette.

The Solent Mark III Flying Boat

Short Bros. Solent MkIII - Oakland - 2009

Imagine boarding this flying boat in Southhampton, England for your journey to Johannesburg, South Africa in the late 1940’s! With several stops along the way for overnight rest – as the plane only flew during daylight hours.

According to the museum’s commentary, the flying boat made “overnight stops along the route in such exotic locales as Augusta, Sicily; Luxor, Egypt (landing on the Nile); Lake Victoria and at the head of Victoria Falls in what was then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) with the final stop at Vaal Dam outside Johannesburg.” I suspect you got to know your fellow travelers pretty well by the time you arrived in Africa!

This is a Short Brothers Solent Mark III Flying Boat on display at the Oakland Aviation Museum near the Oakland International Airport. The museum offers tours of the flying boat on Saturdays and Sundays – and is also offering a unique dining experience onboard the Solent on the second Saturday of each month.

The image was shot with my Canon 5D Mark II and post-processed using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2. A red filter was used to darken the sky and add contrast – and the image was tightly cropped to emphasize the body of the flying boat. I happened to stop at the museum on July 4, 2009 and captured this image as the foggy skies were beginning to breakup over the airport.

Gene Soucy and Friend over Salinas

Gene Soucy and Friend by Scott Loftesnes

Among my many weaknesses are air shows. Since I’ve gotten back into photography, I find them even more fun – the sound and the sights just excite me!

This photo was taken at the California International Airshow in Salinas in 2009. I had the big lens (with tele-extender) deployed on my Canon 5D Mark II and caught this great shot of Gene Soucy and his wing walker zooming by the crowd. I just love the colors and attitude in this image – in my mind it’s a classic air show photograph! Hope you enjoy it!

Carlton F. Bond at the Pearson Air Museum

Carlton F. Bond - Pearson Air Museum - Fort Vancouver, WashingtonBefore leaving for home last night, I headed across the Columbia River from Portland for a quick visit to the Pearson Air Museum at Fort Vancouver.

The air museum is situated in a lovely spot for an airfield – in fact, there’s still an active general aviation airport just next door.

Inside, the museum has a number of museum quality aircraft on display but perhaps the most interesting exhibit was devoted to flight simulation. In a room with about 25 individual flight simulator computers, there was a very active group of youngsters – boys and girls – piloting their aircraft up into the wild blue yonder. Lots of fun to just observe! Let’s hope some of them become real pilots soon enough!

Screen Shot 2011 08 11 at 7 55 35 AM

This image of Carlton F. Bond comes from a shot I took with my tiny Canon PowerShot S95 of his statue outside as I was leaving the museum. Bond had been commanding officer of Pearson Field back in the 1930’s. I loved how his statue is placed relative to the front of the hanger and the apron out front. I post-processed this image – a single RAW – using Photomatix Pro and Photoshop. I used a series of Nik Software filters in Photoshop to create the antique effect for this image – see the filters on the right.

Douglas C-47 Skytrain at Castle Air Museum

Douglas C-47 Skytrain at Castle Air Museum

Here’s another photo from almost four years ago taken at the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California. This time, it’s a C-47 Skytrain, the workhorse transport aircraft of WW II, the Berlin Airlift, etc.

This shot was taken using my first digital SLR, a Canon 30D, as a single RAW image. Postprocessing was done using Lightroom 3, Photoshop CS5 (to remove power lines, etc) along with Nik’s HDR Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro.

Hope you enjoy it!

The SR-71A Blackbird at Castle Air Museum

SR-71 Blackbird - Castle Air Museum, California

I’ve been playing around a bit more with black and white photography – including going back and looking through my collection of earlier images for candidates for conversion to black and white.

Here’s an example from the Castle Air Museum from four years ago that I recently converted to black and white. Castle has one of the few remaining SR-71’s – specifically SR-71A 61-7960.

In terms of process, I first did a single image RAW HDR conversion following by the black and white conversion. This is a particularly challenging image – because of how the SR-71 is positioned in front of all of that tree foliage. Still, I thought the conversion turned out OK.

Many years ago when I worked for IBM I spent a day at Beale Air Force Base – home of the SR-71’s. What a treat! Years later, I was at Oshkosh when the first SR-71 flew in for the airshow – took about 45 minutes for the SR-71 to travel from Beale to Oshkosh! I remember the rope line around the SR-71 while it was on display with the signs that read “Use of Deadly Force is Authorized” – in other words, stay away!