Machines

Sutro Tower

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.
[click to continue…]

U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter MH-65 Dolphin

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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

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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.

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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.

Stagecoach

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.

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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.

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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.

CH-46 Sea Knight

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A few days ago, I spotted a convoy of CH-46 Sea Knights flying overhead. The only camera I had was from an iPhone 4S.

sea-knight_1001

iPhone 4S, ISO 50, 4.3 mm, f/2.4, 1/1,783s

Not bad, but a touch of noise. Today, I saw a lone CH-46 Sea Knight. I had a DSLR, but the lens was a bit short.

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Nikon D800, AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 100, 70mm, f/2.8, 1/6,400s

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Nikon D800, AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 100, 70mm, f/2.8, 1/8,000s

Disneyland With One Lens

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Disneyland is a man-made theme park in Anaheim, CA. Not the type of destination where you should spend much time pondering the one lens question. For fun, I brought along the 28-300mm and took some photos just to see how the camera and lens would perform.

In good light, the 28-300mm had no problems. For that matter, an iPhone could do the job for outside snapshots. Indoors, it’s all about trade-offs. The first task is finding the slowest acceptable shutter speed. The French can-can girls look acceptable when cropped and reduced. At 100%, the noise is quite noticeable.

small-world-6813

Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, 65mm, f/4.8, 1/50s

It’s a Small World-version of Cinderella.

cinderella-6814

Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, 28mm, f/3.5, 1/50s

Disney waterfall in Toon Town. Would have been more fun with an ND filter and tripod. I did try to slow down the shutter speed as much as possible.

waterfall-6825

Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, 32mm, f/25, 1/5s

Construction crane towering above Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which was closed.

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Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, 45mm, f/5.6, 1/640s

During each ride, there’s a series of initial adjustments. I wanted the shutter fast enough to stop movement. The boat was moving. The characters were moving. However, I didn’t want the shutter to be so fast that the resulting photo would end up completely underexposed. Pirates of the Caribbean was particularly challenging because the entire ride was dimly lit. I started the shutter speed at 1/100s, increased it to 1/50s, and again to 1/25s.

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Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, 28mm, f/3.5, 1/25s

While waiting in line for the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride, I saw the parade pass by.

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Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 180, 300mm, f/5.6, 1/500s

At Innoventions, I sat through the Honda ASIMO robot presentation while waiting for my Autopia FASTPASS time to arrive. I was impressed by the mobility of ASIMO. However, I was underwhelmed when the host was video conferencing with his family. Facetime is already here. Video conferencing is the technology of today, not tomorrow. And, using Facetime certainly doesn’t trigger a ridiculous video and audio special effect. I guess the swirling effect was to make video conferencing appear futuristic.

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Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 5600, 116mm, f/5.6, 1/500s

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle during that wonderful moment after the lights are turned on but before the sky has gone dark.

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Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/125s

Next time, I’ll bring a prime lens for fun.

Space Shuttle Endeavour

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From this morning’s flyover near NASA’s Ames Research Center.

Space Shuttle Endeavor, atop the NASA 747, flew directly above us. The air was a bit hazy, so I had to clean up the image a bit in Photoshop.

Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 100, 300 mm, f/9, 1/320