With Wings As Eagles: Photography/Darkroom/Movie Entries

Never Done That Before

2012 April 24 07:50

I took a work trip to Pittsburgh, PA last week. It was for a computer training seminar, so I spent it indoors without much chance to take photos.

I noticed a rather odd thing driving up. All the way across eastern Ohio, there are signs for the city of "Wheeling", which is a small-ish city on the east end of I-70 within Ohio. Just across the border into Pennsyvania is the Pittsburgh metro area, which is much larger and would make a much more logical choice for "this highway to" signs. I presume some Ohio administrator decided at some point that they didn't want to point people to a city in aother state, no matter how large or prominent.

It was a rather dreary cloudy day, so my phone camera wasn't coping very well with the low light. That coupled with the fact that take these photos use-the-force point-and-shoot style meant that I didn't get very many usable photos at all. Here are a couple from the drive up:

My purpose for this post is this photo. I'm told this buildin in central Pittsburgh is called "The Cathedral of Learning"; I think it's a building in the University of Pittsburgh. It's really quite something. I hope I get a chance to go inside sometime.

Bad To The Bone: instrument panels come full circle

2012 April 06 09:53

My wife and I took a short weekend vacation over the winter to the Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg area of Tennessee. While we were there, we visited the Hollywood Star Cars Museum in Gatlinburg. It has some interesting cars from movies or owned by movie stars. It also has some other interesting artifacts, like the Batcomputer from the 1960s Batman series:

They have a neat array of props from James Bond movies, including a Golden Gun prop from "The Man With The Golden Gun":

Among its vehicles, it has one of the motorcycles used in "Terminator 2". It's a 1990 Harley Davidson Fatboy. I took this image of the overall bike:

And then one quick shot of the instrument panel

Because my wife really isn't into car museums.

I late found myself looking at the second photo a lot on my phone, looking at the speedometer and light panel:

The bottom of the panel, just below the key switch, are very clearly warning and function lights. The red light in the lower rightis probably the oil pressure warning light. The green one in the center bottom is probably the "neutral" indicator light. The lower left blue one is probably the high-beam headlight indicator. But are the other colored things in the next row up lights, or just trim?

It took me a while to figure out why this one photo of this motorcycle was obsessing me so (meaning a couple of hours for an evening googling photos trying to find better depictions). My revelation was--I'm obsessed with instrument panels of vehicles. I'm not sure why this was a revelation. Whenever I got on a trip I take pictures of my own instrument panel, or particularly of the rental car I'm driving. One of the things that facinates me about my vintage Beetle is the extremely austere instruments: one speedometer dial, which an embedded fuel gauge, and two warning lights. When I look at an airplane for sale, I want to look at the instrument panel more than pictures of the outside of the airplane.

I found an few interesting depictions with Google image searches: an article on howstuffworks.com on the Harley Fatboy, and another specifically on the "grey ghost" on harley-fatboys.com.

Then I started doing some searches on YouTube, and ran into some interesting stuff. Here's a couple of videos featuring someone starting and running a Fatboy where you can see the instrument lights when they turn on the ignition: here and here.

After I ran into those examples, I did some more thorough searching for images, sometimes including for-sale sites. Here's a for-sale ad for a 1992 Harley Fatboy in Tennessee. If you click on the "more photos" link, the middle photo has a nice view of the speedometer/instrument cluster in bright light.

I found a very nice image of the tank and speedo by Carl Johan on flickr:

I found some other photos on flickr, including this one by Stacey Warnke, which I think is the very same motorcycle. The other photos near it in her photostream are of other cars in that same museum. The image shows the odometer milage of 727 miles, and the page says the photo was taken on July 31, 2008. The odometer in my photo, taken January 2012, lists has 732 miles:

Rocket Nerd Holy Of Holies

2012 April 05 19:54

One of the big pieces of infrastructure built during the Apollo moon program was the Vehicle Assembly Building. It's the really big building at the Kennedy Space Center where they stacked the rockets for the Apollo missions and also assembled the Space Shuttles for launches.

It's a really huge building, and an giant industrial space, and with things moving around inside occasionally, it's a safety issue as well. With all those issues, before recently it was a VIP-type tour that you had to at least know someone to get to see the inside of. Starting in November, NASA opened the building up to the general public. I drove down to Florida this last weekend to take the tour and see it.

It's pretty cool, and really really huge. I'm posting a few photos here. I took a lot more of the inside. While the experience is neat, the pictures don't really show much because there's no reference or scale.

Here's a photo of the outside of the VAB:

The VAB is on the left, and the two buildings on the right are two of the Orbiter Processin Facilities, where they reforbished the Space Shuttles after every flight. The two tall vertical grey sections on the VAB are the doors that open to let stacked vehicles out. They go most of the height of the building.

Here's a different angle. The next shot is goin to be from fairly close to the building, showing roughly the area that's circled in green on this photo.

This shows the bottoms of the two grey doors on one side of the building. Notice the area between them, circled.

Those tiny openings highlighted in the last shot are three double-width personnel doors. That gives you an idea of the size of the VAB.

Now, the VAB is very very cool for a rocket nerd like me. However, I'd like to recommend the Apollo/Saturn Center at Kennedy Space Center for anyone who's even vaguely interested in space travel. It's a really well-put-together museum out on the NASA property. They have a really impressive collection. Apparently the way it works is that you take one of the bus tours to see the launch pads and stuff, which end at the Apollo Saturn Center. You can then take a bus from there back to the main visitor's center, where the big parking lot is.

The centerpiece of the Apollo Saturn Center is an actual Saturn V rocket, which was the rocket that took the Apollo missions to the moon. The first (bottom) stage of the Saturn V was powered by 5 F-1 engines, each of which developed 1.5 million pounds of thrust. This is a photo of the business end of the Saturn V there:

To give you an idea of scale, here's a man standing just below the engines:

Here are a few goofy road-trip type pictures from the trip down and back. Here's the interstate sign when I-75 splits off south from I-40 west of Knoxville.

I was pretty cranky on the way down, and I really horrid traffic problems. That was apparently the spring break that everyone and their dog was going to Florida. The rest of the pictures were from the way back. Monday, April 2, on I-75 crossing I-10 northbound.

I saw this billboard a few times and managed to snag a photo of it.

I know the intention is that it means "We're Nuts!", but I can't being suspicious that this is a front for were-nuts, as in were-wolves, were-bears. Vegetable Lycanthropes! What insidious monsters would those be!

The interstates splitting on the south side of Atlanta. I'm taking the I-285 bypass to the west. That interstate goes very near Atlanta Hartsfield airport; in fact, the highway goes UNDER one of the runways.

An airliner on very final approach.

This was a very pretty cloudscape just before I turned off of I-75 in Kentucky.

It's so well-defined, it almost looks like a Terry Gilliam animated head-of-God should pop out of and start dispensing commandments.