Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Alan's Fifth and Last Post

"I have enjoyed my time with Nikki for the last two weeks. I only wish I could have spent more time shooting with her! Here is my final shot with Nikki, "Nikki as seen by Nikki:"

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Alan's Fourth Post

"As I mentioned in the train thread, my schedule has limited my shooting options with Nikki, and has caused me to really push my D700 to its limits. I generally don't shoot at ISO6400, but that was all I could do last night to get reasonable exposures as I was shooting at f/2.8 since their was not enough light to focus easily by contrast.

Our little man Eli has recently decided that going to sleep early is for the birds rather than for himself and for us. So we routinely end up awake with him at 10, 11, 12, sometimes even 1AM until he is all played out and ready to crash. Here is one of those nights:

"Dad, you have a camera, I'm going to get it":


Making our little war hoops:

Standing up is something to be proud of. And clapped about. A lot! :D

Somebody loves his momma!:"

Alan's Third Post

"McGregor's railroad access lead to an army ordinance plant being built during WWII. The rows of bunkers for storing bombs and/or ammunition still remain 70 years later:

After the war was over, the ammunition plant was shuttered in favor of manufacturing of appliances, rocket motors, and other miscellaneous industries. Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) moved in a few years ago to take advantage of the defunct rocket testing facilities and the site is now a full fledged rocket development facility for the company. The tests occur nearly every day and multiple times on many days, and everything in the town shakes when the engines start... many people thought that the apocalypse was happening during the first test of a fully configured Falcon 9 launch vehicle. The company now regularly alerts townsfolk of extremely larger launches! :D

If you look in the left side of the pano, you will see a VTOL Falcon 9 rocket, the grasshopper. In the middle is a large metal building where rockets can be assembled for testing. Next to the central water tower is the large tripod-shaped vertical test stand. I've been on top of it in a private tour a few years ago and the view is impressive; it is about 100-150 feet tall at the top of the concrete, 250 feet tall at the very peak. Several other testing facilities and control bunkers are clustered around the test towers. This is about as close as I wanted to get for picture taking as the facility is on a large swath of private property that the public is not supposed to enter... I figure walking around at the end of the day might have aroused suspicion anyway so it's for the best.

I made effective use of a GND filter for all of the pano shots, two things that I rarely do. The GND+UV+Nikki's older coatings did make for this nice rainbow flare while shooting the sunset though:

As the sun faded away (and the flares decreased) I was thankful that a plant that was once used to make tools for war and destruction is now being used in more productive ways. I hope that the sun will eventually set on man's quest for conquest, domination, and destruction.

I'm not much on beer, but finding an empty Heineken beer bottle beside the road made me think that if peace comes and I am still around... well I'll drink a beer to that:"

Alan's Second Post

"More from Nikki in McGregor.
I often have difficulty using Nikki indoors due to her longer focal length and low light levels; the early darkness of winter also limits my shooting. I've made sure to put her to good use these past two days.

From today:
The town of McGregor is named after one Dr. Gregor McGregor and owes it's existence to the St. Louis Southwestern Railway (the Cotton Belt, or SSW). The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway was building northward from Temple, TX to Ft. Worth, TX and established the town of Banks, TX two miles south of McGregor's present day location in 1880. In 1881, a predecessor of the SSW built through the location of present day McGregor with the intent of reaching Mexico from it's terminus in Waco. The Santa Fe and residents decided that a township at the junction would be more logical so Banks ceased to exist as all of residents and businesses moved to McGregor in 1882. I have been watching trains here since being only a few years old and I vividly remember being 2-5 years old and climbing up sign poles and riding my tricycle into the middle of our street to watch the trains pass by. Anytime I hear the airhorns go off while I am outside, I still watch. Old habits die hard! :D

The http://www.towers.txrrhistory.com/056/056.htm union station of the two towns was built in 1904 and remains unchanged but for the loss of the interlocking tower after the Cotton Belt pulled it's tracks up in the 1980's.

The depot still bears the name of it's former owner, a holdover from a merger nearly 20 years ago:

The town historically was served by the GCSF Texas Chief, and is currently served by Amtrak's Texas Eagle and even has a ticket agent at times.

In my childhood, the depot sat largely derelict and we expected it to be demolished. With the merger, BNSF started using it as a maintenance hub for tracks up and down the line and it is now accompanied by typical rail maintenance paraphernalia:

Nikki clearly loses to Nikon's newer G lenses when it comes to flare-resistant coatings, but manufacturers certainly couldn't sit still for 40 years; this is a lovely look anyway.

I was hoping to catch a train while out on our walk. While we waited for a few minutes, I continued detail shots:

Double red signals for any southbound trains was a good sign that something would be heading north soon:

We were rewarded shortly as my wife and I caught the sound of a distant whistle at the crossing two miles south of town, near historical Banks. Within three minutes, we saw headlights bearing down on the station quickly. Much to my surprise, I was rewarded with the railfan's delight, a BNSF train headed up by three different generations of 'pumpkin' paint schemes.
 I strongly preferred the red/silver or blue/yellow Santa Fe warbonnets of my youth...

The train passed quickly, and I naturally didn't have a tripod in order to get a stable image at 1/10s:

And as quickly as the train came into town, it was gone:"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Alan's First Post

A package arrived at my house today:

My helpful little assistant shutterbug decided to investigate.

Dad, I think it's going to be pretty good!

37 year old Nikki was excited to meet her 6 month old great-grandlens. (Speaking strictly in terms of 85/1.8's.
The 1.8G is the 7th variant of the non f/1.4 85mm lens produced by Nikon since Nikki.
It's apparent that more than American waistlines have expanded in 37 years!