B-17 Flying Fortress


The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a legendary plane that flew over the skies of Europe during World War II. This historical plane was on display at the Wings of Freedom Tour during its Mountain View, California visit in May 2019.

Photographing Air Force One at Moffett Field

If you want to photograph Air Force One, some online resources can assist with the planning. First, the Defense Internet NOTAM Service provides an early schedule for the President’s arrival and departure. Read the Presidential TFRs for temporary flight restrictions for VIP movement. The FAA published the applicable TFR three days before the President arrived.

The more detailed itinerary was available the night before. published the Presidential Calendar, with the specific times and general locations (including the airport) on the President’s schedule. Of course, the timeline can change based on delays in the schedule. Today, initially published the wrong times, which conflicted with local news reporting. I was able to determine who was reporting the correct timing by consulting the White House Pool Reports

Twitter feed.

Aboard Air Force One

Air Force One

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

I recently visited the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. Located in Simi Valley, just north of Los Angeles, the presidential library provides a retrospective look at President Reagan’s life and administration. Having visited the library many years ago, as well as having lived through the 80s, my main focus was on seeing Air Force One, which was installed after my prior visit.

Walking through Air Force One was a unique experience. I had thought the interiors would be more luxurious. In hindsight, considering that it was a modified Boeing 707 that entered service in the 1970s, the tight, cramped quarters should not have been unexpected.

Sutro Tower


From Seal Point Park in San Mateo, I had a relatively clear view of San Francisco that was free of rain and fog. Usually, from this vantage point, I will focus on the planes flying over the San Mateo Bridge and landing at San Francisco airport.

However, I spotted Sutro Tower off in the distance and wanted to see how well the lens performed. This lens is certainly capable of producing crisp images, but the Sutro Tower located almost 20 miles away proved to be quite challenging. The mountain range behind Sutro Tower is Mount Tamalpais.

Camera: Nikon D750
Lens: Nikkor AF-S 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 300mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Shutter: 1/500s

This United Airlines airplane flying over the San Francisco bay was more within its zone of competence.

United Airlines

Flight Over San Mateo Bridge


Tried a new location along the coast to catch planes descending into San Francisco airport. However, along this stretch, overhead power lines mar the view. I’ll have to revisit and try some different subjects and angles.

San Mateo Bridge

Dos Amigos Pumping Plant


The Dos Amigos Pumping Plant helps transport water in the California Aqueduct. The water is lifted 113 feet, and then descends to the next pumping station 164 miles away.

I suppose a sunrise or sunset shot would be more interesting, but with the plant located half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, reaching this location by mid-day is about par for the course.

California Aqueduct

Camera: Nikon D750
Lens: Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 58mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Shutter: 1/400s

Lockheed P-3 Orion


During a noon hike, I spotted a Lockheed P-3 Orion taking off from Moffett Federal Airfield. At the time, I was using the D7000 because the D800 would not turn on and had to be sent to Nikon for repairs. Hopefully, the repairs will not take too long because I miss that camera already. It functions as expected.

Lockheed P-3 Orion

Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: Nikkor AF-S 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
ISO: 400
Focal Length: 300mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Shutter: 1/1250s

Earlier, I was using the D7000 for video work. On the D800, I can adjust the aperture, shutter speed and ISO while in Live View. On the D7000, the camera settings could not be adjusted in the same manner in Live View. Fortunately, I had internet access in the field and was able to lookup the instructions. The quick answer is shutter speed can be adjusted in Live View, but aperture cannot not. I had to exit Live View, adjust the aperture, and return to Live View. As for ISO, setting Manual Movie Settings to “on” enables ISO to be changed while in Live View. That setting can be found at Shooting Menu > Movie Settings > Manual Movie Settings.

Super Bowl 50 Blue Angels Photos


The Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers competed in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. I was 15 miles away on the side of a mountain overlooking Silicon Valley.

Levi's Stadium

Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II and AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III
ISO: 360
Focal Length: 600mm
Aperture: f/8.0
Shutter: 1/2000s

Fortunately, 30 minutes before the start of the Super Bowl, the Blue Angels flew over Silicon Valley. Nothing better than a test run before the real deal…for them, as well as for me. 600mm was a bit too close since I wanted to see the Blue Angels in their surroundings, so I removed the teleconverter and waited and waited and waited.
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U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter MH-65 Dolphin


I spotted this MH-65 Dolphin from USCG Air Station San Francisco circling above the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. I think it was escorting the caravan that was taking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with Governor Jerry Brown.

USCG Helicopter

Nikon D800, Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/2.8G, ISO 200, 600mm, 0 EV, f/5.6, 1/2,000s

I used the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-20E III with the 300mm lens. Quite a heavy and unwieldy set-up when the camera is pointed almost overhead. Even at 1/2,000s, the helicopter rotors have a bit of motion blur.

San Mateo County History Museum


The San Mateo County History Museum offers fascinating glimpse into the history of the San Francisco Bay region. Inside the rotunda, the magnificent dome dominates over the the Great Seal of the State of California.

With the 28-300mm lens, I’m pretty much limited to to the dome itself.

San Mateo County History Museum Dome

Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 180, 28mm, f/8, 1/30s

The 14-24mm bring in the second floor balcony for some perspective.

San Mateo County History Museum Rotunda

Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 100, 14mm, -1 EV, f/8, 1/20s

A tile mosaic of the Great Seal of California appears on the floor of the rotunda.


Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 2200, 16mm, f/5.6, 1/100s

Life before the iPhone…

Antique Telephone

Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, 42mm, f/8, 1/40s

When riding coach was really first-class.


Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, 28mm, f/8, 1/20s

Of course, the Rock-ola jukebox came from a different era, but it is just as antiquated as a stagecoach for today’s children.


Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, 28mm, f/4, 1/100s

The museum had a Chevy Imperial to show how the rise of the interstate changed the Bay Area.


Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, 65mm, f/5.6, 1/100s

These exhibits are only a small part of the museum’s collection. I hope to return soon to see and learn more.