Monday, November 26, 2012

FSU vs. UF

I didn't give Florida much of a chance in this game.  It seemed to me that Florida had made a steady march in the wrong direction leading up to this week, and Florida State had done just the opposite (with the exception of the NC State game).  I guess I'll have to subscribe to a different theory, that being Florida played either up or down to their competition this year.  Florida was up for this game!

On to the picture highlights...

I typically take some shots during pre-game warm-ups.  I usually get some great shots, but it makes me feel guilty because it's like cheating.  I normally don't pay much attention to the kickers warming up, but since Caleb Sturgis is a home-town product, I wandered over to take some pics.  What really caught my attention was where he was practicing... kicking field goals from the 35 yard line... the OTHER 35 yard line... on the FSU side of the field 35 yard line... 75 yards from the goal post 35 yard line!  I dare say that Caleb will be playing on Sundays next year.

Here's some high net worth represented for you:

Here's a cheated shot of Jermaine Washington hauling one in.  Yes, it could happen during a game with a really long lens from the other side of the field.  As it was, I was standing in the middle of the field during warm-ups... but shhhh... don't tell anyone.

It was Senior Night for FSU, and that included Chief Osceola... his last ride before passing the baton to a new Chief.  He put on a good show too.  Congrats.

Bjoern Werner was up to his usual stellar level of play.  Maybe schools should do a little more recruiting overseas.  This is one good German football (not the round kind) player!

Unfortunately for FSU, Werner's stellar play couldn't overcome six turnovers.  It's nigh impossible to win a football game when you hand the other team the ball six times.  Here's Mike Gillislee running the ball in for a score on the first play after FSU coughed up a kickoff.

Even after a third quarter spark from FSU, Gillislee's running and Driskel's passing proved too much for the Seminoles.

E.J. Manuel had a rough night throwing, but a pretty good night running the ball.  He's a big fellow, and looks like he could do well at the next level if he evens out his play a little.  Here he is blowing through the Florida line for a nice gain.

Florida did a better job holding on to the ball, and that was the difference in the game.  They did have one miscue, involving Werner of course.  You know when your quarterback is tackling a defensive end, something is amiss.

I'm not usually into artsy photos, but this one struck me... I call it:  "Portrait of a Football"

One last shot of the Driskel/Gillislee duo that stuck the knife in FSU this night.

And, of course, the quarterback gets the cheerleader in the end....

See much more of the game here.

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cape Canaveral Air Force Base

I recently was treated to a behind the scenes personal tour of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Base by a close relative who just happens to be in charge of security for CCAFB and Patrick AFB.  The occasion of my visit was to watch the night launch of an Atlas rocket.

And I don't mean watch from the peanut gallery outside the southern gate from where most folks watch.  We were CLOSE... inside the blast damage area.  This picture was taken at the border of the blast damage area, within which no one is allowed during launch.  The blue light is the road block.

Unfortunately, there was a technical glitch and the launch was scrubbed for the night.  So, we stayed an extra day to catch the launch the following night.  That turned out to be a blessing as we had the day to drive around the base and take in some historical sites.

When I was a kid growing up in central Florida, I watched the Mercury and Apollo launches from our house.  Visiting the launch complexes from where these emanated was a special experience for me.  The history represented by these places sends tingles up and down your spine.

Here's Complex 14 from where the manned Mercury flights launched.  The pad is in the left foreground.  The rail is what the tower rode on to back away from the rocket prior to launch.

Here, on a plaque mounted on the launch facility building, are the seven astronauts of "The Right Stuff" fame:

I got goose bumps walking on the same ground as these pioneers walked.

I had an uncle that worked in the launch control building, seen here.  Those periscopes were a necessity... those launch control buildings were close to the pad!

This is Complex-34, the Apollo launch site with a Delta-4 ready to launch in the background.

The Apollo-1 memorial attached to the side of the launch platform.  A terrible tragedy and worrisome start to a world-changing program.

On a lighter note, here's a coveted shot of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse.  Coveted in the respect that not many folks can get this shot.  It's not on the normal public tours.

We even caught a ride on a Navy Patrol around the sub harbor and out into the ocean.  You read right... there's a Navy sub base on the Air Force Base.  Go figure!  Actually, it makes perfect sense.  The boomers do their ballistic launch tests from this port.  What better place to test your rockets than Cape Canaveral?

Well, we headed back the second night (at 2:00AM), and got all set up to watch the launch.  This was the view from our vantage point across the water.

Unfortunately, this was the view across the water in the other direction...

Therefore, no launch.  We couldn't stick around for a third try, but it had been a wonderful two nights and one day.  I felt privileged to see the history that so many don't get a chance to see.  I've heard rumors since the demise of the shuttle program of opening up some of these historical sites to the public.  I hope they do.  Everyone should have the opportunity to share in this history.

See more in these galleries:
Cape Canaveral
Patrick AFB Police Dogs

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 Jacksonville Beach Air Show

My previous post was dedicated solely to the Blue Angels.  Here are some pics of some of the other performers at the show.  I didn't get there until after services, so I missed the morning performances, but did get to see some fun stuff.  One of the performers I missed was the SOCOM Para-Commandos, but I got to see them the previous weekend at the FSU/BC game (a previous post).

Love those Mustangs!  Nothing sounds like a Rolls Royce Merlin... well except maybe two!

These guys sound more like lawn mowers, but they're fun to watch.

The relative humidity was low (by Florida standards) due to a passing cold front the day before, so when you get this much low pressure vaporization, you know they're really turnin' and burnin'!

One of the surprises for me was the Black Diamond Jet Team in their Mig-17s decked out in arctic camo paint.  Very impressive, and unique.

Passing in front of the CGC Maria Bray.

I don't think I've ever seen an F-22 Raptor put through its paces, but after seeing this one, I'm quite certain I wouldn't want to be in front of him with the wrong insignia painted on my wings!

He could flat out turn on a dime... and the surface of that plane was just plain smoooooth.

My old favorite plane and my new favorite plane showing off together.  Did you ever see the movie "The Final Countdown"?  Tomcats taking out Zeroes over Pearl harbor... wouldn't it be interesting to see these two in a dogfight!  I bet it wouldn't last too long.

A future Blue Angel pilot here?  You never know....

See more of the show in this gallery and the Blue Angels in this gallery.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Blue Angels NAS Mayport

It's that time of year again... AIR SHOW!  Woohoo!  Jacksonville always turns out well for the annual airshow, which alternates between Jax NAS and Mayport NAS/beaches each year.

This is first year that I’ve been able to attend the beaches airshow.  I’ve always attended the Jax NAS show, which is inland on the St. Johns River.  I knew it would be crowded at the beach, but the local media and law enforcement absolutely hyper-ventilated about how no one should attempt to drive to and park at the beach.  “Absolutely no parking” they all said.  Their alternative was to park at the TPC Sawgrass twelve miles to the south and take their FREE shuttle to the beach… and, oh by the way, parking is $20.00… uh hum. 

So, after hearing the suggestion on the local news that this would be an excellent opportunity to try the city bus service, I decided that’s what the wife and I would do.  I downloaded a copy of the route map and schedule and off we set Saturday morning to the bus stop near my house.  And there we sat… and sat… 35 minutes past the scheduled time.  Finally, we saw a bus coming… but it turned at the street before our stop.  Hmmm.  So, I give the JTA customer service line a try… “Call volumes are higher than normal, please hold.”  You don’t say?  Another 10 minutes and finally, here comes the bus!  Excited with anticipation, we stand up and approach the road as instructed in the helpful literature on the JTA web site… and… VAROOOM… right on by!  Hmph.  I give.  We’ll just have a quiet day at home.

I got a second wind Sunday after church and hitched a ride to the beach with a member of the church.  I feared the worst and suggested that she could drop me off whenever the traffic got untenable, and I could walk the rest of the way.  We made it to the beach, drove north on A1A towards show center… very little traffic.  We made it all the way to show center and turned right towards the beach.  As we turned right, there were folks waving at us to park (only two blocks from show center) for the fantastic sum of… you guessed it… $20.00!  Arrgh!  I guess all the hyper-ventilating worked.  It kept people away.  I hitched a ride back home with some friends I happened upon at the beach and they said they had parked that morning three blocks from show center in a public parking lot for free.  I’ll leave the moral of that story to your imagination.  It will definitely alter my future commuting plans for this show.

Enough belly-aching… on to pics!  

As always, the show starts with Fat Albert, the Marines C-130 support aircraft.  This is Fat Albert coming in over the CGC Maria Bray.

One of my main goals this time was to get a decent crossing shot.  This is a somewhat difficult shot because a combination of several factors must come together:  A.  You have to be at or near Show Center.  One thing I enjoyed about the beaches show... it was a simple matter to get to Show Center... not always the case at airshows on air bases.  B.  You have to be able to shoot at very fast shutter speeds, 1/2500 or higher.  That requires sun and from the right direction.  I had both.  Even with bright sun, I was shooting at ISO 640.  C.  Despite a relatively high frame rate of eight frames per second, getting two planes in the same frame is hit and miss.  Those guys are crossing at something over 700 miles per hour combined.

Some photo purists would object to this picture as "fuzzy."  But I really like it.  The fuzzy on the right plane is actually distortion from the heat of the exhaust from the plane crossing in front.  The top of the CGC Maria Bray is kinda neat too.

Speaking of the Maria Bray, it was nice having her out there to provide perspective.  You can see just how low they fly.

The whole time out there, I was trying hard to get a shot of either an osprey (the bird, not the plane) and a plane or the moon and a plane in the same frame.  I came really close on the osprey.  But I didn't even realize I'd gotten a moon shot until I got back home.

Here's another shot I've seen in the past that I wanted to try to capture.  It's not 100% perfect, but it's close.  My wife didn't realize that it was two planes until I pointed it out to her.  The ultimate version of this shot is taken from the same altitude as the planes... might have to try to get a hotel room next year.

And, of course, I had to take some bird pics while on the beach!  These ospreys were amazing... the planes roaring by at 400MPH didn't phase them one bit.  They just went right on fishing, in front of 200,000 people and under assault from the best the Navy had to offer.

What a great show!  The fabulous weather made it even better.  Thanks to our military for sharing with us.

See more at this gallery.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

FSU vs. Boston College

Just a few miscellaneous pics from the FSU Boston College game this past weekend.  Caught the players getting off the bus.  These guys are big even without pads.  Definitely clients of the Big&Tall shop.

What do you think this feller's thinking about?  Crushing quarterbacks maybe?  Or maybe photographers?  Yikes!

Saw a few interesting fans too.  What do you call this?

How about these guys?

Some fun pre-game activities with the Marching Chiefs...  Da   da da  da  da...

And the obligatory Renegade/Chief Osceola photo.  Can't shoot an FSU game and not get these guys!

And, I did get around to shooting some football too.

A perfect Heisman pose...

How's this for cute?

Uh... fellas... I don't think Jimbo agrees with that call!

See more of the game in this gallery.

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