Up There

A nice little piece in The New York Times a few days ago: “Tweaking a Camera to Suit a Hobby.” The hobby in question is launching balloons with point-and-shoot cameras attached and, as far as I can tell, letting them go where they will go. The folks featured in the article, who go by the handle North Iowa Experimental High-Altitude Ballooning (NIXHAB), use balloons that have reached heights around 100,000 feet. That’s far enough up there to give the impression you’re on the edge of space. (My first question: Do these guys need to file flight plans or consult with the FAA?).

The Times story focuses on the software hacks that allow the balloonists and other hobbyists to set up Canon point-and-shoot cameras to record their images. Here’s one from the NIXHAB site (also used in the Times piece):

Supreme

chickenparts052209.jpg

G Street and 86th Avenue, Oakland. A block away from the A&B towing yard.

1951 Buick

It’s a Buick Roadmaster Deluxe. For sale for $4,000 if you’re looking for a project. It’s been parked at various spots around Mariposa and Alabama streets, a couple blocks from where I ply the radio news editor trade, for at least a month. (Those stacks in the background of the top photo–I’ve been looking at them for the last year and I haven’t yet investigated what defunct local manufacturing operation they might have been part of.)

buick040309a.jpg

buick040309.jpg

Whiz

whiz032609a.jpg

At 18th and South Van Ness. I walked by a couple months ago at midday while exploring a different route to work. I haven’t investigated, but maybe the location is part of a bygone chain (on the other hand, the sign says “since 1955”). In any case, it’s the one and only Whiz burger stand I know. I haven’t yet sampled the fare.  

Mission Palms

missionpalms032609.jpg

Last night, at the northeast entrance to the 16th Street BART station. Beautiful, warm afternoon and evening. Lots of people on the street, and the scene at the plaza around the station had a little bit of crazy energy to it at the moment I showed up: some of the homeless and local SRO (single-room occupancy) hotel residents arguing, parents reprimanding kids, a mom yanking her kid by the arm as she took him into Burger King for dinner, people spilling out of a Muni bus that had just pulled up at the corner.

For several blocks, I had watched the light above change and looked for an opportunity to try and catch it. Not that it’s so important; but in a way these pictures are a little like postcards to myself, reminding me of a place, a moment. This was my last look at the street scene before heading down the escalator to the train.  

Neighborhood Art Tour: Fence

A fence I pass every day. On 16th Street in San Francisco, between South Van Ness and Capp, and right next to Theatre Rhinoceros. The fence surrounds a parking lot, site of a defunct AM/PM minimart and a dead car-tuneup place. Nearby is an empty Jeep/Chrysler dealership. The fence, though–it’s doing fine.

  fence032309.jpg

On the Homefront

enginewoman.jpg

Just noodling around, looking for historical pictures of California for a possible project, I came across the Library of Congress stream on Flickr. Soon, I came across a series of slick, posed images of women at work during World War II in Los Angeles-area aircraft plants. I’m captivated by how much is going on here: high (for its time) technology, the serious industrial setting, the artful setup and shot, the costume, the war-on-the-homefront theme, the intensity of the worker as she does her job (not to mention the conceit that the man in the shot is instructing the little lady on what to do).

The caption: “Women are trained to do precise and vital engine installation detail in Douglas Aircraft Company plants, Long Beach, Calif.” It was shot in October 1942 for the Office of War Information, our domestic propaganda agency, and credited to Alfred T. Palmer, the agency’s chief photographer. Click for larger image.

Space Visitors, Again

Issshuttle121906

Issshuttle121906A

As I just wrote to my brother John;

“… I wasn’t so lucky with the pictures last night. It

started clouding up about an hour before sunset, and

the space station and ISS were crossing well to the

north (maximum elevation was about 27 degrees). So it

was doubtful they’d be as bright even if they were

visible. At the scheduled time — the shuttle was

supposed to appear at 6:03, the ISS at 6:04 — I

couldn’t see anything, but I released the shutter

anyway. After about 30 seconds, I could see something

moving dimly above the clouds in the northwest. After

the first 60-second shot, I reaimed the camera further

east, and realized there were two objects moving by; I

had missed the first, the shuttle, but both were

clearly visible as they crossed through the north to

the northeast. I tried another 60-second shot and got

both of them, though they don’t look nearly as bright

as they did just looking at them. Looking at the shots

now, there was so much ambient light that the sky

became very washed out, and a shorter exposure might

have shown them better Something to remember for next

time.

“Still — pretty amazing stuff. I was seeing them about

four hours after they had separated; if you assume

they were exactly a minute apart, that means the

distance between them was just under 300 miles (the

distance they travel in 60 seconds at 17,500 mph).

Looks like it will be too cloudy here to see the

shuttle again before it lands.”

Technorati Tags: ,