RocketHorse: Blog en-us (C) RocketHorse [email protected] (RocketHorse) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:04:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:04:00 GMT Subway Conductor Points at Zebra Hashed Sign Every time a NYC subway train stops in the station, the conductor, located in the center of the train, points to a zebra hashed sign hanging from the ceiling.  This is done to confirm that the train has stopped at the correct spot.  The trains are so long that if they are not stopped in the correct spot, there's the potential that one end extends out of the station creating a dangerous situation.  Although the hashed signs have been installed since WW1, the practice of pointing at the zebra boards began in September 1996.  The MTA has a great article on the history of this practice on their website.

My goal for this photo was to capture both the sign and the pointing conductor in one shot up close.  I found that my fisheye lens on my tiny Fuji X-T1 mirrorless camera to be the perfect set up for this photo.  I don't usually like to tilt an image, but in this case, I was super close to the sign and the conductor and this tilted crop was required to fit it all in.

If you follow his pointing finger, you might not think that he's pointing at the sign.  This is an optical illusion caused by the fisheye lens.  There appears to be an arc between the conductor's finger and the sign, but in reality, it's a straight line.


NY City MTA Conductor points at hashed board.

[email protected] (RocketHorse) City MTA New Subway York Zebra Board hashed board Wed, 15 Jun 2016 17:27:09 GMT
An architectural hike around Kansas City I recently visited Kansas City for the first time in over 15 years and enjoyed walking it's downtown streets observing its numerous architectural photo opportunities.  Armed with my Fujifilm X-T1 and the 16-55mm lens, I began my urban photo safari at a local coffee house, the Roasterie, featuring a vintage DC-3.  I savored my very first nitro infused cold coffee at this very stunningly cool coffee shop.

If you're a coffee fan, you must try this ice cold nitro infusion.  It was so smooth requiring no creamer and had the texture of a Guinness!
Here's a shot from my Instagram feed:

Nitro infused coffee

After coffee, I Uber'd myself into downtown.  Luckily, some fast moving clouds coupled with a variable ND filter helped make this 10 second exposure: 

Ghost signs provide insight to a building's historical past:
Ghost signs on brick.

Opened in 1914, the Beaux-Arts styled Union Station is stunning!  Here's a ceiling portion of the grand hall 95 feet above me with the chandelier weighing 3500 pounds.

A sweet font and window detail:

Since it was Sunday, this was closed so I had amazing BBQ instead.  I love old retro signs!

Town Topic Hamburgers Retro Sign

Finally, a TWA rocketship.  I want one.

As you can see, Kansas City offers lots of fun architectural details to appreciate.  I look forward to my next visit!

[email protected] (RocketHorse) Beaux-Arts Fujifilm X-T1 Kansas City Architecture Nitro Infused Coffee Roasterie Union Station Fri, 13 May 2016 16:07:44 GMT
Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival Spokane The Washington State Chinese Lantern Festival ran from the end of September through the middle of November of 2015 in Spokane, Washington's Riverfront Park.  The lanterns were created by a Chinese company, Tianyu Cultural Transmission Co, Ltd, of Sichuan, China.  The festival was extremely colorful and beautiful to photograph!

Giant lantern and Riverfront Park.

[email protected] (RocketHorse) Chinese Lanterns Thu, 14 Jan 2016 19:13:12 GMT
Ride in the steam engine on the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad! Just west of the really skinny part of Maryland is Cumberland and the home of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad (WMSR).  The WMSR is a heritage railroad that begins it's trips in Cumberland and turns around in Frostburg, running about 75 minutes each way. Excursions begin at the Western Maryland Railway Station built in 1913 during the golden age of steam powered rail travel.

This past summer, I had the unique and exciting opportunity to ride in the cab of this engine where I took most of the following photos. Please forgive me in advance as I am not aware of the many technical terms associated with trains. 

Here, engine 734 enters the Cumberland station pulling several passenger cars to begin it's journey.  This 2-8-0 engine was built in 1916 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works.  Currently, this engine is undergoing it's 15 year major inspection/tear down so the WMSR will be using another engine from the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum.  I felt this image just had to be black and white!

The fireman (the guy who keeps the coal burning so that we have steam and thus have power to move) maintains the various moving parts of the locomotive while it's parked in the station before our trip.  I saw quite a volume of steam drifting around - I knew there was the possibility of a good photo to be made. 

Before getting underway, Richard shovels coal into the fire.

Crawling out of the station, we can see the engineer is seated on the right side of the cab, the firman is nearest to me feeding the fire, and the guy who stands in the tender feeding the coal forward is observing.  I'm in the left seat of the cab hanging on.

With eye protection, gloves, and hearing protection in place, we're racing down the track!  Although you can't feel it here, it's a very turbulent ride in the cab of the engine!


I really liked looking up at the coal smoke pouring out of the engine.

Although a cool wet day, each time the fire doors opened a wave of heat blasted us. 

I don't normally do funky antique film conversions, but it seemed to work in this case.

At the end of the line, the engine turned around on the turntable in Frostburg, and moved to the other end of our train.

Cruising back to the Cumberland station.

The crew of the train really got into their roles by authentically dressing in period wear.

Sweet authentic vintage luggage. 

At the end of our journey, I complemented the conductor telling him he looked like a real conductor.  He appeared confused by my comment and replied that he was a real conductor.  Of course!

[email protected] (RocketHorse) 734 Cumberland Frostburg Locomotive Steam Engine Turntable WMSR Western Maryland Scenic Railroad Thu, 05 Nov 2015 03:14:47 GMT
East Broad Top Railroad, Rock Hill Furnace, Pennsyllvannia Visiting the East Broad Top Railroad in Rockhill Furnace, Pennsylvannia is like entering a time capsule of a fully functioning railroad of the late 1800s through the first half of the 1900s.  It comes complete with a roundhouse containing several locomotives, a machine shop, a number of supporting buildings, and a number of coal cars scattered about the property.  Unlike a clean manicured museum, this was a fully functioning facility that appears to have suddenly shut down and is in amazing condition for the railroad enthusiast or anyone who loves photographing technical still lifes.


[email protected] (RocketHorse) Fri, 18 Sep 2015 18:15:53 GMT
Gonzaga University's Hemmingson Center Gonzaga's beautiful new John J. Hemmingson Center is a stunning multi-rolled facility featuring everything from a meditation room to a greenhouse as well as a ballroom with an 800-plus capacity.  It features numerous dining options, a 200 seat theater, state-of-the-art rooftop hydroponic greenhouse.  There are dining options on two floors:  an artisan deli with fresh salads and bakery, a Mongolian wok, vegetarian local farm produce, American classics, Mediterranean cuisine, and other international choices.  This place even has a Starbucks, but unfortunately wasn't yet open the day I visited!  The new Hemmingson Center replaces the COG, Center of Gonzaga, which has been a meeting place for almost 60 years.  With ever increasing enrollment, Gonzaga needed a newer larger facility.

Upon entering the building, you will be taken by this stunning atrium space:

Principal firms involved on this project include Opsis Architecture of Portland, Bernardo-Wills Architects of Spokane, MW Consulting Engineers of Spokane, and Hoffman Construction of Portland.

Pictured here is "360 Degrees," the Mongolian wok.

There is an abundance of seating in the common areas.

Outdoor gathering spacings include a fire pit

Gonzaga Hemmingson Building

and terraces with views of the athletic fields.

Organic produce is grown in the state-of-the-art rooftop hydroponic greenhouse/learning lab located on the eastern rooftop:

Gonzaga Hemmingson Building

Group meeting spaces to pray, reflect and share.

The facility also houses University Ministry programs, Center for Community Action and Service Learning (CCASL), Center for Global Engagement/Study Abroad/International, Unity Multicultural Education Center (UMEC), Group work spaces and meeting rooms, Laptop stations, computer labs and learning technologies, Comfortable, private study/work lounges.

[email protected] (RocketHorse) Architectural Photography Gonzaga Hemmingson Wed, 19 Aug 2015 20:38:55 GMT
The summer heat of southern Spain as expressed through crossprocessed slide film  Crossprocessing occurs when one develops slide film using C-41 print film chemicals.  The resulting negatives produce prints that exhibit crazy contrast and color balance.    The following is a result of crossprocessing a recently discovered roll of film, Kodak Elitechrome 100, which had been loaded in my camera for a few years.  Unfortunately, this film was discontinued at the end of 2011 - so it doesn't really matter now whether or not I like it.  According to the ebook Film, pretty much the only reason why someone would shoot slide film these days is for the purpose of crossprocessing since no one has slide shows anymore.  When I shipped my Elitechrome off to the lab, I elected to process it this way since this is probably the last time I would be playing with slide film for awhile as it is a bit more pricey.   To my pleasant surprise, the crossprocessing enhanced my memory of this sweat drenched trip to the southern Spanish villages of Moron de la Frontera and Zahara creating a feeling of sun bleached oppressive heat.  I was deployed with the Air Force to Moron Air Base (which interestingly is blurred out on Google Maps) near the city of Seville and these shots were made on one of my days off.  


[email protected] (RocketHorse) Cross-processing Elitechrome Moron Slide Film Zahara Fri, 24 Jul 2015 23:37:04 GMT
Flying with the fisheye I broke out my Bowens 8mm fisheye and latched it onto my Fuji X-T1 for my multiple flights between Chicago and LaGuardia and really enjoyed it's results once again.  

This lens was really made for cockpit shots and other such tight spaces.  The Fuji X-T1 has a decent dynamic range allowing me to capture the details of the brighter outside and darker inside.

While sitting at the gate in LaGuardia, I noticed a very interesting sky full of puffy white clouds.  I reached my arm out the window while parked at gate D-3 to get this:

These two seem to be wondering what I'm doing with a fisheye lens:


[email protected] (RocketHorse) Boeing 737-800 Fisheye LGA LaGuardia cockpit Tue, 21 Jul 2015 23:11:00 GMT
Combat portrait session at 25,000 feet with an F-16C. I had just finished flying another 10 hour mission in support an overseas contingency operation over somewhat hostile territory and checked the next day's flying schedule before going back to my moldy trailer in the desert.  One of the flying lines had a remark scribbled next to it:  "Bring Camera."  I asked what this meant, and all that was known was that the receiver aircraft needed pictures.  Ok, sign me up!  I had planned another day of watching Breaking Bad, but for this I could push that back.  I tagged along with another crew from my squadron, some good friends of mine.  After 3 hours of preparation and then 4 hours of flying, we were watching the sunrise skimming it's warm rays gently across a puffy cloud deck beneath us.  A flight of F-16s came up to receive our precious fuel before their mission.  Being two weeks before Christmas, it turned out that one of the F-16 pilots simply wanted some pictures for his wife, Bri!  Perfect!  I would make sure Bri got some cool pictures this year - not only did we bring a camera, but we brought me dedicated to shooting.  This mission was not without risks - we were flying a tired 55 year old airplane, we were potentially flying in full view of enemy forces, and once back at our base, we might have been deported to a random country by the host nation's customs officials who actions were notoriously arbitrary and unpredictable.

Dawn PatrolDawn PatrolThis F-16c is seen flying low over the clouds as it approaches it's KC-135 tanker in order to refuel. The sun had just risen and is seen just grazing the cloud tops. The pilot came prepared with both an American flag and card for his love.

Christmas card for BriChristmas card for BriThis pilot on a combat mission in his F-16c over Afghanstan needed a photo for his Christmas card so I was happy to oblige.

Jay, the boom operator, flies the boom by way of hydraulically powered ruddervators into the F-16's receptacle.  Once connected, the KC-135 tanker pilots turn on an air refueling pump to fill the receiver with his scheduled offload of jet fuel.

[email protected] (RocketHorse) F-16 KC-135 Tanker aerial refueling Sat, 18 Jul 2015 03:55:22 GMT
Saving Pixels - Shooting Film Film therapy update, day 3.  
I'm up to exposure #17.  When one must pay about a $1 per shot, much more thought is given to composition and whether the image is really even worth making.  I'm practicing much more intentional photography.  The camera I'm using, my 21 year old Nikon N90, is unable to shoot in manual mode or aperture priority with most of my lenses.  Modern Nikon lenses don't have an aperture ring so I'm shooting in shutter priority only - awkward.  I suppose I could use Program mode, but this is all about becoming more intentional, and that wouldn't move me in that direction.  Next week, I'll be using a more modern (1996-2004) Nikon F5 which allows for controlling shutter and aperture settings with dual control wheels - this will allow for manual mode and aperture priority.  I thought about picking up a lens that has an aperture ring on it, but it was way cheaper to pick up a used Nikon F5 since they are now a fraction of the cost of a lens.  I'm currently shooting a roll of Fujicolor PRO 400H - cost is $10.29 for 36 exposures.  The look to the Fuji 400H is somewhat subdued based on examples I've seen.  I just finished a roll of Elite Chrome the other day (slide film) - I plan to have it cross processed for interesting colors.  

[email protected] (RocketHorse) Ektar Film Fuji PRO 400h Nikon F5 Thu, 09 Jul 2015 04:54:44 GMT
Refueling an E-3 Sentry AWACS over New Mexico The thirsty AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System - a USAF Boeing 707 with a radar mounted on top) approaches:

Our boom operator makes a sweet contact:

The receiver gets his fuel:

The AWACS descends 1000 feet and we go our separate ways: 

[email protected] (RocketHorse) Sat, 27 Jun 2015 10:00:00 GMT
Reflection of the new AA tail at LaGuardia's Gate D1 This morning, my jet was parked next to gate D1 at the LaGuardia Airport.  I don't know the history of the hangars, but they appear to have been built in the 1930s.  Here is a reflection of the new color scheme on the tail reflected in the windows of the hangar doors.

[email protected] (RocketHorse) Fri, 26 Jun 2015 21:13:03 GMT
KC-135 Details Using a Macro Lens Here are a few pictures of KC-135 details taken with macro lenses (mostly the Nikon 105mm) just for fun!

This is the landing gear handle with the attitude indicator display in the background.

If things go really bad, there's still a standby attitude indicator.  This was taken with the macro function of the old Nikon 35-70mm f/2.8:



This handle raises the spoilers up to 60 degrees reducing lift:


The "Ready" light shines in the red glow of the boom pod at night:

The KC-135 yoke comes equipped with a heading slew switch:


[email protected] (RocketHorse) KC-135 Tanker macro Tue, 23 Jun 2015 14:14:37 GMT
The "boom operator at work" shot A challenging shot for anyone documenting the KC-135 is the one of the boom operator at work.  The boom lies on his or her belly facing rearward at the back of the tanker with a view of the receiver aircraft and the boom which is flown into the receiver aircraft.  The issues photographing the boom at work include tight spaces, extreme lighting conditions (boom in darkness, receiver in daylight), and a very wide angle between the boom and receiver aircraft.  There are 2 mirrors that the boom uses like an inverted periscope to see past the boom to view the arriving receiver aircraft.  In this shot, I photographed the boom with my Nikon D800 which has a dynamic range of 14.4 stops.  This excellent dynamic range allowed me to, in post processing, use the adjustment brush in Lightroom to darken the outside the window view, and lighten the boom's face.  I solved the issue of photographing both the boom operator and receiver aircraft by using the upper mirror to reflect the boom operator concentrating on his work.  I didn't need to use a super wide lens to capture both subjects which could have resulted in distortion.

[email protected] (RocketHorse) B-52 KC-135 Tanker USAF boom operator Mon, 22 Jun 2015 04:27:46 GMT
How I know I can safely delete data OR How I know I've copied the data correctly I travel all the time and do my best not to lose data while doing so.  I keep my photos in at least two places while on the road/inflight - one copy in my MacBook Pro and another copy on a portable hard drive that I carry in a small "Dolphin" case (not sure the relationship, if any, there is with "Pelican Case").

Once home, I clone the data from the travel drive to a stay-at-home drive.  With data in three places, I confirm the data integrity between my laptop photos and those copied to the travel hard drive before I delete the photos from my laptop.  I use a program from the iTunes Store for the Mac descriptively called "Compare Folders."  What this does is compare the data copied between two folders.  The free version compares file names, but does not run a more time consuming "Checksum" to validate the actual copied data.  I ponied up the $4.99 for the full version so I could have the piece of mind knowing that the files were copied correctly.

[email protected] (RocketHorse) Compare Folders Mac app store Wed, 17 Jun 2015 15:30:00 GMT
Using Off Camera Flash Inside Your Subject Ok, so the title is a wee bit misleading - maybe it should read "inside one of your subjects to illuminate another subject."  There are numerous benefits of implementing "off camera" flash which means using a flash somewhere other than on your camera shooting straight at your subject.  A flash can be directed from the side or overhead to make for more flattering/interesting lighting.  In the case of these two images, I used a radio triggered remote flash to illuminate the aircrew inside their aircraft from the outside as they performed their preflight.  Were it not for the flash inside, the boom operator would have been shrouded in darkness in the first image, and the two pilots would not stand out from the shade of the interior of the jet on a bright sunny afternoon.


In the image below, I clipped a Nikon SB-900 flash into the interior of the boom pod on "aircraft left" pointing it straight up allowing the light to bounce off the insulation above the boom operator and also hit her directly in the face from her left.  I remotely triggered the flash with a pair of Yongnuo remote radio triggers (model RF-603N).  Note the pair of crew chiefs at the front of the KC-135R.  I like the complementary colors in this image - the blue of the sky vs the orange glow of the flightline lights.   Boom Operator PreflightBoom Operator PreflightA KC-135 boom operator performs a preflight on her equipment before a night sortie.

For this next image, the crew chiefs graciously lent me one of their "B-4" maintenance stands so I could shoot these two aviators from eye level.  I think these two pilots were doing instructor upgrade training meaning that the pilot closest to the camera is becoming an instructor while the farther pilot is instructing the other how to instruct.  I set the flash on the dashboard pointing straight back where it lit both their faces.  If I were to reshoot, I might try a small modifier to soften the light.  I would also shoot the scene without the flash in it so I could easily remove the flash unit itself in Photoshop.  I think the flash was set to 1/4 power in both of these least that's a good starting point for you.

[email protected] (RocketHorse) KC-135 McConnell AFB Off Camera Flash Tanker USAF Tue, 16 Jun 2015 18:36:23 GMT
Horse Barn Clubhouse with Pizza Oven This amazing, private equine training facility has a wonderful place to lounge before or after riding.  It's coolest feature is a wood burning pizza oven in one corner.  Just imagine a lunch break on a cold winter's day sipping a hot drink at the large granite island waiting for lunch to bake in the oven while enjoying the radiant heat.


Hardware detail shot with equine statue in the background:

On the opposite side of the room is a beautiful built-in where books and artwork are displayed.  A backlit panel of honey onyx creates a striking background for a statue.

The pizza oven features a hand applied copper verdigris finish.  The concrete floor is stained to complement the cabinetry and oven.

[email protected] (RocketHorse) Barn Club House Equine Lounge Pizza Oven Tue, 09 Jun 2015 05:14:32 GMT
Spokane's Cold Storage Building A lighting manufacturer from Los Angeles contacted me to shoot an old warehouse in Spokane that had just been converted into modern office, loft style apartments, retail, and restaurant space.  The manufacturer had provided both the interior and exterior period lighting fixtures. 

Known as "The Cold Storage" building, built in the early 1900s, it used to house perishables from the railroad which runs directly behind the building.

Cold Storage, Front, Blue HourCold Storage, Front, Blue HourCold Storage, Front, Blue Hour


Edison bulbs in these fixtures give the room a warm cast.




On the below image, I employed a technique called "Focus Stacking" where I blended together 5 shots all focused on different parts of the scene to create an image that appears fully in focus.  This is much more in focus than I could have achieved with simply a high depth of field.  You can see that everything from the near light fixture to the moon is in sharp focus. FocusStack2-EditFocusStack2-Edit


[email protected] (RocketHorse) Cold Storage Building Spokane lighting photography Tue, 19 May 2015 05:41:00 GMT
Street Photography - Early May 2015 I am continuing to enjoy experimenting with candid street photography during my free time in NYC to build a visual time capsule of 2015. 

Pole Dancing
I love the public transportation in the city; not only is it a pretty efficient way to get around town, but it's also great for people watching. The subway is full of helpful PSA ("Dude, stop the spread") and one in particular has always intrigued me. 

 I've been waiting a quite awhile to see a prohibited subway pole dance routine.  Note the expressions on the audience's faces across the aisle.


Break time.

South of Times Square.

Naked Cowgirl.

Bank Account Solicitation.

Voodoo Queen reader in Penn Station.

Subway commuters.

[email protected] (RocketHorse) NYC Subway Dancers Naked Cowgirl Street Photography Subway Pole Dancing Wed, 13 May 2015 15:56:21 GMT
Street Photography - April 2015 After an inspirational class at B&H's Event Space the other day by Keith Goldstein, I've decided to try my hand at an afternoon of street photography.  This will most likely turn into an on going project on this blog.  There is no profit motive to this work - I just want to document the human condition as it appears when I take these photos.  I think many years in the future, it'll be interesting to review these images to see how the world has moved on.  Also, this will serve as an exercise for me in quick shooting:  composition, camera settings, and capturing interesting gestures.  Although not directly related to what I shoot for income, I figure anything new that I try will only make me better at this craft and keep my brain young and agile.


7 Train Commuters.

Wedding Photography, Grand Central.

Generational Differences.

Man plays erhu.

Woman watches man watch corroded girder in Grand Central Terminal.



[email protected] (RocketHorse) 7 Train Across the Aisle Erhu Grand Central Wedding Photography Street Photography Wed, 13 May 2015 15:53:33 GMT
How I back up my digital photos to keep them safe Unless we are really careful, it's likely that this decade might have the fewest photographs to contribute to history.  What is your strategy to preserve your digital photographic files physically and technologically?  If you aren't worried about saving your photos read this article.

I have a primary 3TB hard drive with which I travel that I keep safe in a small, hard plastic case called a Dolfin Box.  I connect this drive to my computer using a "Plugable USB 3.0 SuperSpeed SATA III Lay-Flat Hard Drive Docking Station" which I got from Amazon for under $25.  I keep both the hard drive case and the dock wrapped up in clothing in my carry-on luggage.  When I get home, I clone my travel drive to my home drive using a piece of Mac software called Carbon Copy Cloner which copies all of the new data from the working drive onto the home drive.  I name each drive with a number suffix of "1" or "2".  Currently, my travel drive is "Cheesecake 1."  When I get home, I clone "Cheesecake 1" onto "Cheesecake 2."  While I'm home, I keep these drives separated when possible, so that if something bad happens, the data resides in different locations.  Periodically, I will travel with "Cheesecake 2" and leave "Cheasecake 1" at home to share the wear and tear on the drives.

Plugable Hard Drive Docks

My hard drives are Western Digital Red 3TB NAS drives.  The Red drives have both a longer warranty and a longer lifespan than the WD Green drives.

I used to travel with small self contained hard drives, but I found these drives to be much less reliable that the high quality NAS drives that I use now.

A next step - which I do in some cases - would be upload the best of my pictures to cloud storage.  A final step - yet to be implemented - would be to print out high quality images onto archival paper to have a physical copy.



[email protected] (RocketHorse) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:22:49 GMT