Honoring the 78th Doolittle Reunion

Today is the 78th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid. 16 B-25 bombers took off from the carrier USS Hornet on this day to bomb Japan in the first strike after Pearl Harbor. While the mission had minimal strategic value, the moral effect of the mission was everlasting.

April 18th is a big day in aviation. It represents the resolve that we as a nation were willing to carry out in a time when it was needed the most. The eighty men that made the trek to Japan did something that had never been done before and thanks to hard-working volunteers it will never be forgotten.

The Z50 Delivers With Black and White

I’ve been shooting with the Nikon Z50 for about five months now and I am pretty impressed with the results of that little camera. I always have it with me when I’m out fishing in case it’s needed for that quick capture of a beautiful fish but it’s great for that occasional landscape. I was out on the Yellowstone River this past weekend when a Spring shower rolled through leaving some beautiful clouds in its wake. The cliffs of Sheep Mountain were looking great as they still had a little bit of snow left on them.

A Little Side Light

One of the aspects I love about fishing photography is that the slightest change of angle between the subject and the direction of light can have a dramatic effect on the colors of the fish. When I caught this fish it was actually a very dull silver but in the light, you can clearly see the green colors in its scales. Be ever mindful of those slight changes as they can alter your images quite a bit.

Image captured with Nikon Z50

Dealing With Travel Restrictions

With the current state of travel, many have been affected and photographers are starting to feel it as well. Workshops being canceled or postponed, large venues being shut down, travel restrictions, unfortunate realities to the lifestyle we choose to work in. There are somethings we can change and others we can’t. The best we can do is not add to the problem and focus on that backlog of work that always seems to pile up while being gone. To everyone who is still traveling, please be safe out there.

It’s All About the Memories

Photography and fishing have a lot in common but for me, the biggest is being able to share those good memories I’ve made over the years with the people that mean the most to me. Both areas make it tough to find people that you enjoy either shooting or fishing with because everyone has distinct styles of craft. That’s when you find those people, you hang on to them. March is a great time to go Steelhead fishing out in Washington because the Steelhead are moving from the ocean into the rivers and upstream for the spring spawn.  I’ve been fortunate multiple times now to be out their casting for these giants with my friends. On a photographic note, if you’re planning to shoot in rainy Washington in March bring two things: a flash, and a towel. You are going to get wet and it’s going to be dark.

The Different Colors of the Rainbow

As anyone who follows my blog will have noticed by now, I tend to fish a lot and I like taking the Nikon Z50 mirrorless with me when I do. Both of these images were taken with the Z50 due to the ease and convenience of getting the camera out of the bag and able to shoot quickly.  That’s important with aquatic species especially in winter when it’s colder. Thankfully yesterday was nice and warm so I wasn’t as worried.

Winter is a really cool time to fish for Rainbow Trout as they are moving upstream towards the clear water of mountain streams to spawn in the Spring. They will continue to make this journey until they reach the stream where they were born. It’s a unique characteristic of Rainbow Trout as not all trout do this. Another unique trait of Rainbows is the changing colors of the males throughout the spawning cycle, granted the top image is of a female. They will go from the more typical “Chrome” to “Rainbow” look to the eventual dark phase and then back to the rainbow look after spawn has been completed. The variation and duration of the colors vary from individual to individual which makes winter fishing a lot of fun.

The iconic Spitfire’s First Flight

March fifth marks the 84th Anniversary of the first flight of the Supermarine Spitfire. The Spitfire is not only an iconic aircraft from WWII but it is also one of the most revered fighters to have come out of WWII. Enthusiasts and historians alike have a passion for the Spitfires. From the first conception to the epic battles over Great Britain in 1940, to Africa, the Mediterranean, the Pacific, Southeast Asia, and of course the epic dogfights over occupied Europe. The history of the multiple variants of the Spitfire goes on and on and lives on today with numerous examples being flown around the world. Needless to say that this is merely going to be an INTRO post as there is no possible way for me to write about the whole legacy of this plane.

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The Spitfire was designed by R.J. Mitchell and his team at Supermarine Aviation Works, a subsidiary of Vickers-Armstrong, to meet Air Ministry requirement F7/30. Mitchell designed the Supermarine Type 224, an open cockpit monoplane with fixed landing gear and a 600hp engine. It was a disappointment so the team “cleaned” up the design and created the Gloster Gladiator Biplane which was accepted into service. Mitchell then designed Type 300, an improvement on the Gladiator, but wasn’t enough of an improvement and was turned down. Mitchell went back and redesigned the Type 300 with a single thinner wing, breathing apparatus, closed cockpit, and a more powerful Rolls-Royce PV-XII V-12 engine, later named the “Merlin” engine. In December of 1934, Mitchell got the backing by Vickers-Armstrong to go ahead with the improved Type 300 and in December of 1934, the Air Ministry provided the capitol and contract to produce the improved F7/30. On January 3rd, 1935 Air Ministry approved the contract and designated it F10/35.

In April of 1935, the armament was changed from two .303 Vickers Machine guns to four .303 Browning machine guns. Captain Joseph “Mutt” Summers took the controls of the prototype (K5054) for the first time on March 5th, 1936 for its maiden eight-minute flight. He was later quoted as saying, “Don’t touch a thing.” The flight of the Spitfire came four months after the first flight of the Hawker Hurricane. Over the next several months the K5054 was flown by several squadron leaders adding in their two cents on various performance issues and possible ways of improvement. Multiple propellers were used to increase maximum speed up to 348mph. While later models would go faster than this. Changes were made to the rudder, a new engine, and an undercarriage position indicator. The Spitfire gradually became more and more refined. On June 3rd, 1936, the Air Ministry placed an order for 310 Spitfires before a formal report was issued by the A&AEE.

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Many features made the Spitfire a unique aircraft, one of the most distinctive was the elliptical wing design. In 1934 the design staff had to solve the need for a thin wing as well as one that was strong enough to house the undercarriage as well as the armament and ammunition. The elliptical design was the most efficient aerodynamic plan for an untwisted wing. Needless to say that I am not an expert on the aerodynamics of drag on wings so in this case, I would recommend looking up the engineering and flight characteristic of how an elliptical wing is better than a straight edge or swept wing design. As the Spitfire evolved to handle multiple roles so were the refinements of flight characteristics. The history of the Spitfire is partly due to the history of the multiple engines, wing, armament, airframe, cockpit, and other characteristic changes. There is in fact too many to write out everyone here.

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This particular Spitfire, NH759, is one of 957 MkXIV’s built. It was built in late 1944 at the Aldermaston factory in Berkshire, England. It went to the 215 MU on 20th May 1945 and having missed the European War went to India in July of 1945 and then to South East Asia Command in August of 1945. However, it missed the war against Japan as well, as NH749 arrived on August 9th. It went into storage until it was sold to the Indian Air Force in December 1947. That history is unknown. In 1979 the Hayden Bailey Brothers brought it back to England. It was restored by Craig Charleston, sold to Keith Wickenden, then to David Price’s Museum of Flying and then in 2005, it was sold to the Commemorative Air Force. It now resides with the CAF SoCal Wing in Camarillo. Note the distinct five-bladed prop on the Spitfire.

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I have only had the pleasure of photographing two Spitfires, the one mentioned above, and the formerly Texas Flying Legends Museum Spitfire MkIX. MK959 was built in March 1944 at the Vickers-Armstrong plant at Castle Bromwich. Its first flight was in April, then assigned to the 38th MU at RAF Colerne. In May of 1944, it was assigned to the 302 Polish Squadron at Chailey England where it did fighter escort roles, providing medium bombers with cover over France before the Normandy Invasion. Nine days after DDAy it was assigned to the 329 Free French RAF Squadron out of Merston. It went on to fly nineteen mission over the D-Day Beachhead. By August of 1944, it was transferred again to 165 Squadron out of Detling. It flew 41 combat operations including Market Garden. MK959 went on to have many more owners in other nations before eventually being restored by Raybourne Thompson who painted MK959 in honor of Andre Rose, the only living pilot who once flew the Spitfire, and the Free French Unit, their mascot being the Half Stork. Thompson went on to sell MK959 to Tom Duffy of Claire Aviation in Millville, NJ and then Duffy eventually sold it to Bruce Eames of the Texas Flying Legends Museum.

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The Spitfire, all variants including the Naval version Seafire, has had a long history of operations throughout many countries. It has produced several of Britain’s top aces including Robert Stanford Tuck who became an inspiration for many pilots after his book Fly For You Life was published in 1956. The Spitfire has a certain quality about it that many pilots lust after. It’s one of the few aircraft that many dreams to fly. In 2016 at Wings Over Houston, the P-51D Mustang Dakota Kid II and MK959 Spitfire took to the skies with Collings Foundation’s ME262. In perhaps the first time in decades, two of the German Luftwaffe’s most iconic enemies met with what was considered one of Germany’s many “wonder weapons.” Bringing this kind of history to life helps to keep the memories and lessons we learned during WWII alive today. If not for the help of the dedicated few, these beautiful machines would be with us today.

Images Captured with Nikon D4, 24-70 f/2.8, 70-200 VRII, 200-400 VR, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Is it Art or a Photo?

Normally after a good release, the fish swims away and these shots are missed but every now and then the individual stays put right where it was released and you can take a couple of shots. I always thought that these shots are kind of artsy-fartsy shots but when it comes to wildlife in their elements technically that’s what this is. The one thing I found to be helpful is using manual focus because trying to autofocus on the fish under the water often gets lost on the water itself.

The Canyons of the Missouri

The Missouri River has become one of my favorite places in Montana to travel to. Over the years I have spent many outings along the river enjoying the breathtaking scenery as the river cuts through the mountains creating some amazing gorges. I often stop to go fishing along the river but every now and then I stop just to take a photo. This one was with the Nikon Z50. It’s become my handy go-to mirrorless camera lately for these simple outings.

 

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