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.

See much more at www.wlpearce.com

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.

See much more at www.wlpearce.com

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.

See more at www.wlpearce.com

Monday, October 15, 2012

SOCOM Para-Commandos

Before the FSU/Boston College game this weekend, the Special Operations Command Para-Commandos jumped into the stadium, delivering the game ball.  Neat guys!

I got to the stadium WAY early... not sure why, but I did get to watch a couple hours of game day football on the TVs in the press box (nice).  I happened to see a couple of guys floating balloons from the middle of field before anyone else got there.  I wondered what they were doing.

Then I saw these guys while shooting pre-game warms-ups and figured it out... Jumpers!

I walked over and talked to one of the guys working the ground crew and he pointed out the plane they were jumping from.

They had three chutes... American Flag and game ball:

The POW/MIA flag:

And an FSU flag:

Yeah... that gets a thumbs up from me too!

Great job guys... and thanks for all you do (and have done)!

See more in this gallery.

See more at www.wlpearce.com

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Great Egret

We're blessed in Florida to have so many beautiful birds year-round.  One of the more majestic is the Great Egret.  Here is a montage of some Great Egret pics from the last few years.

Here's an older feller on the beach at Matanzas Inlet on a cold blustery winter day with a strong Nor'easter blowing.  He was just like me... hunkered down trying to fight off the wind.

This feller is working on his breeding plumage for the spring.  This is January, but January in the Everglades is spring!

You can tell the Great Egret from its apparent cousin the Snowy Egret by its greater size and the size/color of their beaks and color of their feet.  Both have a similar yellow eye band, but the Great Egret has a large thick yellow beak and the Snowy Egret a slighter black beak.  On the other hand, the Snowy Egret has yellow feet, while the Great Egret has jet black feet.  How's that for opposites?  Here's a Snowy Egret for comparison.

And that beak is a serious weapon.  I wouldn't want to get stuck by him!  Here's a younger Great Egret.  You can tell he's young because his beak is pristine.  Compare with the older one above.

And finally, this egret is settling in for the night on a cedar tree in the swamp across the creek from my house.  I love the saturated color of the setting sun and way he's framed in by the curved branches of the cedar.

See more Egrets

See much more at www.wlpearce.com where it's all about the photos.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lettuce Lake Park

While in Tampa to shoot the FSU/USF game, I took Saturday morning to visit the Lettuce Lake Park along the Hillsborough river in Tampa.  They've built a nice boardwalk through the swamp along the edge of the lake/river... very nice for shooting the myriad birds that visit the area.

Here are a few of the birds I saw... several American White Ibises (is that the plural for Ibis?)

I really liked the background of cypress knees... very different than the typical north Florida backdrop of salt marsh.

Got my first shot at a Black Crested Night Heron.  It's a common bird, but just don't see them very often.

This Little Blue Heron has gorgeous coloration along is head and neck.

Found a brave Double Breasted Cormorant that let me get close enough to get a good pic of those beautiful green eyes.

The swamp itself was intriguing, especially with the high water from the recent heavy rains.

See more here.

See more at www.wlpearce.com

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Raymond James Stadium... wow, what atmosphere!

And what a game.  No one gave USF much of a chance given the prior games for both teams... USF struggling against no-name opponents and FSU blowing out whomever they played.  However, USF played FSU tight through the fourth quarter.  I was pretty disappointed in USF's coaches... down by only two scores with almost four minutes left in the game and they chose to run it up the middle play after play.  They gave up, plain and simple.

Lots of neat stuff to see during pre-game.  Here's E.J. Manuel throwing me a ball during warms-ups... OK... maybe not to me, but it looks like it anyway.

Here's an unusual view of the flag:

The pre-game huddle:

And the game was a good one.  I did a little better than the Wake Forest game.  I bought a new camera body to replace the ailing 7d that went back to Canon Factory Service (who are about to get a call from the BBB).  Having a working autofocus sure made my job easier.

Here's the run that set up the first FSU touchdown:

Oooh... look!  There's a football on your head!

I don't think I'd want to line up across from that center...

This was my most exciting photo... I was standing right in front of this fumble!

Which was picked up and run back for a touchdown!  The nail in the coffin in the fourth quarter.

See more photos of this game here.

See more at www.wlpearce.com