Thursday, April 12, 2012

Watching The World Fly By...

Just having returned from 8 days in Illinois, I feel the need to post, since the computer has been down (and is still in the shop).  But tonight I'm using Melinda's laptop and will post a few plane pics, since I've got the card from the camera.  Funny how you can be zipping along at 600 mph, yet the 3+ hours seem like 20!  So I try to entertain myself with what I see (the day's NY Times only gets you half way there), try to record it and explain what you see.

On the trip up to the Midwest about 10 days ago now, they had severe thunderstorms in the Dallas area the day before.  We were well north of that, but was shocked to see plentiful snow on the ground!  Of course, once we get more than a couple hundred miles from Tucson I tend to get lost, so I wasn't sure exactly where I was, but the enclosed pic, a 3-D shot of a volcano, I suspect was in northeastern New Mexico.  Much of that state is high enough it would explain why the snow was sticking around...  I've always wanted to visit this area, but it really isn't on the way to the Midwest from southern AZ, not that we've driven it lately.  But the cinder cones look interesting  The 3-D shot was taken by taking a photo pair a few seconds apart.  So the plane's motion of a mile or two gives a baseline to provide the appearance of depth.  As usual, cross your eyes slightly to fuse the two images to show depth.

Shortly afterwards it clouded up and the ground disappeared until we entered clear air over Iowa.  Again, not knowing where we were, I finally located us when we crossed the Mississippi about Dubuque.  We then crossed over Rockford, Illinois, the nuke power plant's cooling towers visible SW of town.  We were on course for me to take a picture of our house, easily found on the Fox River when we'd pass it.  But wouldn't you know, just before the Fox was spotted, the plane banked sharply to the south, and when we headed back east, we were literally right over our house as the city of St Charles, our base of operations while in Illinois, was nicely visible out our right side window.  Our place on the Fox is frequently on the approach to O'Hare, and our plane did the same - no pic-o-the-place that day!

On our return trip last night we took off right about sunset, and I thought there would be little chance for taking any images, but wasn't sure.  Again, we were on the right side, but unfortunately we passed well north of St Charles on the outbound flight.  But by the time we got to my ancestral home in Iowa, my birthplace Clinton, was nicely positioned.  Much of the layout was quite familiar, and had we passed over during the day, I likely could have spotted relative's homes!  As it was, in the growing dusk, the quarter second exposures came out pretty well.  Provided here is a wide view, and an annotated closeup view of the same image...  From the lock and dam to my Granddad's farm, it was all laid out in view.

A mere 25 miles to the west, the town of DeWitt was visible.  A little unexpected was a fire just south of town - interesting because that is where my brother Jim lives.  I called him this afternoon and asked about the fire - he said it was a farmer burning his field - sometimes done to help control certain pests.  It was only a mile or so from his place - one of several fires we saw across the state last night.  Just to the left of the cloud of smoke is the metropolis of Grand Mound (ran short of town names in olden days), where our farm was when I grew up. 

As it got darker, I put the camera away, but then saw something that perked my interest.  Looking at the wing from the rear, it appeared there was some sort of a mirage effect off the leading edge of the wing.  Of course, the curved leading edge should have provided a reflection of the sunset, but it seemed weird that there was a dark line before we got the twilight glow.  My suspicion is that air is highly compressed along the leading wing edge and under the right circumstances can refract light a little strangely as a result.  So I took some wide and narrow shots, varied exposures and show two of them here.  I don't yet know if it is weird or unusual, but it gives me something to do on a long trip...  I'll consult some experts, but in the meantime, if any of you have theories, let me know!


David A. Harvey said...

Cool shots Dean! What's up with your puter? In the shop? That can't be good! ;-/

Kendall said...

I really enjoyed the 3D effect of the mountain. That was very cool, I think I'll try that on my next flight.

You may not remember, but I met you back in the late 90's (I think?) when you gave me a personal tour of the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. I took a bunch of photos (pre-digital-era) and sent them to you something like five years later. Found your blog when researching the Grand Canyon Star Party.