What The Hell is That!?

While heading home today, I was about to get on I-17 at Buckeye road when I saw a strange "Locomotive" Heading East bound. I popped out of my lane and tried to head it off. After being stopped by several lights and having it go by without getting close to it, I finally caught it at an intersection.
I then got a better picture at another crossing:
A little research found the following information.
From the "Salem Times-Commoner" (Don't sue me):

"Those driving under the Route 50 East underpass saw a rare train car sitting to the north of the Depot Supper Club on Wednesday as it waited for some trains to pass on by. The bright yellow self-propelled car is one of two geometry inspection vehicles owned by Union Pacific Railroad.

The vehicles are designed to perform a variety of electronic track inspections at speeds up to 70 miles per hour. A three-person crew operates the EC-4 and the EC-5. The particular vehicle in Salem was the EC-4. The cars perform inspections six days a week. The vehicles have full sized kitchens in them so meals can be prepared while on the go. In a year, the two geometry vehicles will test miles of tract equivalent to more than five times around the earth's equator.

Both geometry vehicles use complex computer systems that gather data from various types of lasers measuring track surface or level rail ear and tunnel measurements. The on-board computers also use Global Positioning Satellite systems to accurately record and report the location of variances for accurate repairs. Track maintenance crews follow the inspection vehicle and make repairs as needed when a track defect is found. The real-time data recorded by the vehicles also is used in scheduling track improvement projects.

These two vehicles join the 22 Union Pacific-owned ultrasonic rail-flaw detection vehicles. The ultrasonic vehicles are designed to "look inside" rails to detect flaws unseen by the human eye. An internal flaw may be caused by a poor casting or metal mixture."


Stock Photography II

Since I started my foray in to stock photography, I have discovered a couple of things that vex me.

#1 - Chromatic Aberration:
For those not familiar with this problem you either do not have a digital camera, or aren't trying to sell you pictures. I was completely unaware of CA before I got serious in photography, I never noticed it, or even knew it existed. There are two type of CA "Purple Fringe", and regular CA. Purple fringe will not be discussed as my camera doesn't have a problem with it (as far as I can tell). Here is an example of regular CA.

On the top is the original image (resized for my blog) and on the bottom is an area in question from a 100% crop. If you click on the bottom image you will notice that on the left and right of everything that has a defined edge there is a blue fringe on the left and an orange fringe on the right. Look specifically at the black lantern. The fringe color can vary depending on the camera and lens. Some lenses/camera's will have a green/red or a blue/yellow. It is caused by a lens having a different refractive index for different wavelengths of light. This is best seen in this diagram:
Note that where the vertical line meets the green focal point the colors red and blue have different focal points. The result is that the red and blue light is out of focus. The CA colors can vary with focus. All lenses have this to one degree or another. Generally lenses with less CA use apochromatic glass or lens elements (click the link for an explanation).

I was curious to see if any of my old film cameras have this problem. I looked at old prints and scanned negatives I have, and found it is there, but less noticeable. This I believe is due to the way color negatives are constructed and that most pictures are not printed to their full size.

Ok you may ask: "how do we fix this?"

Well for the most part you can't, exactly, sort of. You can do one or more of the following:
Buy very expensive apochromatic "prime" lenses (avoid zoom lenses for your money shots).

Stop down you lens to the smallest aperture you can get away with for the lighting conditions you are shooting in. (this reduces the "circle of confusion" for the CA).

Try to remove it using software (MuHuhahahahahahahaha.... ahem). No seriously good luck with this technique. So far the best program I have found that deals with this reasonably well is "Helicon Filter", even this program requires post process smoothing in Photoshop to remove the jaggies left behind after it "fixes" the CA (helicon filter has a very good built in work flow).

#2 - Focus problems:
Sometimes I really miss my old manual focus cameras. At least if the picture was out of focus I knew who was responsible (me). Now I am never sure exactly why something was not in focus. The camera (having 9 focusing points) might decide to focus on something closer or farther away. The camera becomes confused when under certain conditions, like shooting through bars, a fence, or tree branches. The auto focus might need to be re-calibrated (in my case it would cost $289.00). Then there's camera shake of course.

Hey I know! I could use manual focus! Oh wait... silly me my camera doesn't have a split image focusing screen. I would have to rely on my imperfect eye sight. Not to mention auto focus lenses have no resistance, so manual focusing them is like trying to precisely position a smooth free rolling ball bearing. I would give somebodies right arm for a split image focus screen in my camera (looking for volunteers).

Oooohhhh... you think your camera doesn't have this problem... Well before you gloat, go back and look very carefully at you digital pictures at 100%. huh... what's that... he's right some of them aren't perfectly in focus. Pictures not perfectly in focus are ok for printing and hanging on your wall or sending to forgiving friends and relatives, but just try and sell one on a stock photography site (not going to happen).

What??? you say you never have this problem. Well odds are your camera is probably a fixed (small) aperture pocket digital camera (your jpegs will be over compressed though, can't sell them either), you paid lots of money for your equipment and/or the person doing the calibration on the equipment wasn't in a hurry that day, or... you are lying.

One last tidbit:
Your digital camera doesn't take RGB information for each pixel (gasp). Your 6, 8, or 10 megapixel camera may actually be a 4, 6, or 8 megapixel camera (GASP). Horror's! how can that be. I'll let this guy, and this article explain.


The Last Goodbye

It's hard to believe that just a year ago I visited you in the hospital. You had just had your first Dialysis. You were bright and smiling, and when you saw me you yelled out like you always did… ROBERT! You were always happy to see me. Your braided hair (which had been tied up in two buns on either side of your head) was disheveled, and I said, “You look like Princess Leia after a bender”. I took your picture with my Cell Phone… I could not know it was your last picture.

I remember when Mom picked you up from the Hospital; you were only a couple of weeks old, and the cutest baby we had ever seen.
I fell in love with you immediately. We all did, you were our Pamela…
Growing up I was you’re your big brother and protector. Nothing would hurt my baby sister while I was around.
Like everyone in our family at the time, I was devastated when I heard you had cancer and was told you would not see your seventh birthday. But…
You were a fighter, and with the help of Radiation and Chemotherapy you defeated cancer in short order… The only casualty was you pretty hair, and one Kidney. Your hair would soon grow back more beautiful than before.

You had a dragonfly creeper that allowed you to run amuck, in and outside of the house. Proving you were just as rambunctious as any other five year old. When you got your wheelchair it was my privilege to transfer you to and from the car, and to your bed every morning and night. You were never heavy.

I often fought tooth and nail with my other sisters and brothers but I never fought with you, and could never be mean to you.

You were sick or in the hospital many times, but you always triumphed. Each time though, the fight took its toll.

When I heard your last kidney had given it’s all, I thought you would easily beat this one… Until they told us they were putting you on Xigris. I looked it up and found it is only given to patients who are desperately ill. Only then did I realize our Pam was facing her most serious foe, and possibly her final battle.

I was not there when you passed away. I did not get to say goodbye and tell you how much I loved you. I arrived just minutes after the fight was lost. This time I could not protect you. My heart broke when they said you were gone.

I will miss your smiling face. I will miss your excitement when I would visit. I will miss the game of earthquake we played with you in your wheelchair. I will miss how you would follow me around like a puppy dog. I will miss the way you jealously guarded that giant bag of M&M’s you once had (though I never saw you eat a single one). I will even miss the way you cussed like a sailor when you got teased just a little too much.

I remembered the picture I took with my phone. I copied it to my computer, but was so terribly disappointed when I found that it was blurry.
I could still see that you were smiling; you were always smiling, and I will always remember you that way.


A Man and His Crown (Fire Engine)

First off I must apologize for the quality of the pictures in this post. I took some of the pictures with my old 2.1 mega pixel camera. Some of the pictures are scans of prints.

Introduction: This is my dad (Bob) in the early 1960's (taken from an 8mm film frame). He is wearing his "fire buff" turnout gear.Here he is inside the bomb bay of the B-17 Sentimental Journey (late 90's).
And of course having lunch with the Infamous Bill Clinton at Poncho's (2007).

In early 2002 Bob finally was able to purchase a fire engine (for a very good price). He found a 1960 Crown fire engine serial # F-1173 that had been in service with the Yakima county F.P.D. It then went into service with the Easton Vol FD Kittitas county. Then the Kachess Ridge FD Kittitas county. The rig had been purchased by a private individual in late 2000, and sat under a tree for over a year. This picture was taken when the rig was in service.
When he got the rig it had the following equipment:
1000 gpm pump
750 gallon booster tank
Dual booster reels with power rewind
817cid Waukesha gas engine 300BHP
5 speed manual transmission
Air brakes
Six 2 1/2" discharge gates
One 2 1/2" suction intake
Three 4 1/2" suction intakes
Two 4 1/2" hard suction hoses
10 foot folding ladder
12 foot roof ladder
24 foot extension ladder

Here's the proud owner taken by me on one of our visits to Seattle.
I have driven the rig and must tell you it takes some getting used to. I don't have much experience with a manual transmission and the task was made more difficult because it requires "double clutching" to drive it.

Over the last several years Bob has been working diligently to restore it to "in service" condition. Some of the items he has added are as follows:
One 1 1/2" fog nozzle
One 2 1/2" nozzle ( smooth bore )
One 2 1/2" fog nozzle
Three Hydrant wrench's
Small rescue ax
Humat Hydrant valve ( 4 1/2" steamer / 3 1/2" supply ) with mtg bracket
1250 gpm deluge set w/ var tips
Blake four way valve
Two axes
Two helmets
Two turnout coats
Four booster nozzles
10 foot pike pole
ScottSCBA” breathing apparatus with mask
First aid kit
Various lengths of various size hoses
And much much more.


Call to Blog!

The following people need to start a blog or update their blog:

Eric Zanovitch (I'm not the only one who read your blog, more would read it if you updated it).

Alan Gastineau (I used to have a cousin with that name, wonder what happened to him?).

Paul Varner (It's cathartic).

I don't want to hear any sniveling either, like:
Nobody will read it. (I can tell you how to get it listed on google for free).
My life is boring. (Yeah... whatever).
I'm to busy. (So am I).

I know you all read my blog (and when). So get to it "Spit Spot"!


George Cortez Jr. Funeral

On July 27th 2007 George Cortez Jr. was called to a check cashing business for check fraud in progress. while attempting to arrest the male and female suspects, the male pulled a gun and fatally shot Officer Cortez. The suspects were apprehended a couple of hours later hiding in a closet. He is survived by his wife and 2 sons. The funeral was held on August 3rd 2007.

I did not attend the service as I did not know him. Instead I wished to see the funeral procession as they are most impressive. No other person short of the President of these United States is so honored.

The Procession was scheduled to start at 11:30 at 75th ave. and the 101, it would follow the 101 south exit at northern and continue on to the cemetery at 67th ave. and Northern.

I drove the route up and back looking for a good place to park without being on private property and where I would be able to leave if needed. I parked on 89th ave. and Northern next to a fallow corn field behind 2 other cars. Around 11:25 I heard on my scanner that DPS was not going to close the freeway until 12:00. I setup my camcorder in the back seat on top of a tool box and waited. They closed the freeway and streets at noon but the procession did not start until 12:30. At 12:35 the Procession entered the freeway, at 13:10 the motorcade reached my location. In the lead were 150 police motorcycles from Phoenix and other police departments. This was followed by the hearse, and several buses and cars carrying the dearly beloved. behind them came (as best I could count) 318 police cars interspersed with an unknown number of unmarked cars from Phoenix and pretty much every city in the state of Arizona. The police cars were followed by 13 fire trucks from various city's in the valley. This was followed by an unknown number of private vehicles. 1 police helicopter escorted the procession. By this time around 13:45 I had to leave. Traffic on 89th ave. (a small 2 lane street) had backed up all the way to Glendale ave. I estimate it took another 20 to 30 minutes for the last vehicle to clear the highway. here are some of the pictures: