Tag Archives: aviation

It’s Almost Year End

It is.  It’s almost the end of 2015 and I, for one, am ready for it to be done with.  Except for my boob job in January, it’s been a pretty shitty year I’ll admit.

N6A0653_Becky and Her Baby

My 89-year old mother became ill in early February and subsequently died on the 19th, one day prior to my elder sister’s birthday.  We can’t thank our lucky stars enough that we were both there to care for Mom at the end of it all.   From then on, life and work went to hell in a handbasket.  I’d break into tears every time I thought of Mom or thought of (or heard or saw) something that reminded me of Mom, My sister and I constantly second-guessed ourselves concerning Mom (woulda, coulda, shoulda).  I found myself working for a horrible boss who made my work life miserable.  I was not in the least interested in photography.  And my entire life revolved around being Executrix of Mom’s estate.

Poor Mom.  She thought she was leaving my sister and me with a nice little nest egg of her savings.  As it was, my sister and I spent every single penny of that nest-egg savings getting Mom’s house up to snuff so we could finally put it on the market; fingers crossed that this sale goes through smoothly so we can be done with it.  These upgrades included a total re-grade and re-sod of the entire front, back and side yards around the house (including the addition of what they call “French drains” to get the standing water to drain into the ditches around the house thanks to the horrid spring thunderstorms Texas constantly experienced all April and May); installation of more foundation pillars in the hallway; patching and repainting the cracks in the walls caused by the foundation work as well as the house’s normal settling issues here in southeast Texas; re-carpeting the hallway, one bedroom and the large den; getting the electrical issues worked out; installing a new roof to replace the one damaged by a freak April hailstorm; fixing the garage door, removing all of the high-tech hurricane storm shutters; and a number of other smaller issues  – all required by the home inspector’s and the structural engineer’s report and the current realtor’s suggestions to make the house more – well – salable.  This work has all taken two months shy of a year since Mom’s death.  It’s been an albatross around my neck and I can’t thank my sister’s husband enough for all of his help – his 30 years in the construction business has enabled me to keep from going mad and throttling most of the people and businesses within this horrid little Podunk Texas town in which I currently reside.  My experience this year has lead me to believe that there is absolutely no business here in this town that is totally trustworthy.  At least, not when it comes to dealing with a divorced, middle-aged woman such as myself.  Fuck ‘em all, I say.

As you can probably tell by now, this entire experience has given birth to the New Me:  Angry White Woman.

I don’t take shit off of anybody anymore and I’m far more vocal about my feelings, opinions and beliefs (this includes my political and non-religious leanings, much to many of my Facebook friends’ annoyance).  I have discovered I am also far more willing to stick my neck out at work and push back to the dirty politics I experience on behalf of myself and my friends who either cannot or will not push back themselves (it’s easier for me to do it since I’m close to early retirement and I don’t have a family for whom I must provide – this allows me to follow the courage of my convictions).

It’s taken me 54 years, and I’m absolutely certain Mom’s death was the catalyst to make me realize what is truly important in my life.  Hint:  it aint work.  Work is not my life and never has been – it just pays the bills, pays for my camera equipment and allows me to travel.  No, what is really important – to me – is family and people who love me.

Thanksgiving Dinner

I no longer have family here in Texas.  They all live out in the Pacific Northwest, and sooner rather than later, that is where I will move.  I am making my plans little by little.  I don’t want to grow old and spend my remaining days alone in a Texas nursing home, waiting to die, far away from people I love and who love me.  Besides that, I’ve never been a huge fan of Texas and am ready for the next adventure further west where the mountains and my family live.

I’m also trying to regain my photo mojo.  I’ve done a few small photo projects this year, including:

Storm Front On The Refuge

Portrait Of A Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night HeronAnoleSpiny Backed Orb Weaver

Using my new 11-24mm, 100mm macro, and 500mm prime lenses at Brazos Bend State Park, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, and around my home and my mother’s home;

Jupiters Eye On The HelldiverWaiting For SunriseThe Rising Sun 2The Rising SunKnife Edge Fly ByAleutian P40K WarhawkGrumman TBF AvengerJapanese FighterTexas Raiders Taking Off

Spending a wonderful sunrise photo shoot as well as an entire day in the photo pit at the 2015 Wings Over Houston Airshow;

Pirate Spooks On Stage

Reaching Across The Stage For A Toast

Dessert At The Kings Feast

Preparing To Serve The Beef

Feast Staff 2015

Halloween Becky In The POW Pub

Pirate Spooks

A Witch And A Zombie

Performing my duties as staff photographer for The Merchant Prince and capturing images for his use out at the 2015 Texas Renaissance Festival;

A Crown For A Princess

Photographing my newest great niece whom I have never met until last year (for only 20 minutes before getting to the airport) and who is now almost 3 years old;

_83Q5951_83Q5973_83Q6720

And photographing my company’s annual gingerbread decorating event.

I haven’t really taken any photo holiday because almost all of my annual vacation days were spent caring for Mom and thereafter taking care of the estate.  I did take a short trip to visit my sister and her family in eastern Washington over Labor Day, spent a weekend in Santa Fe NM during the Memorial Day holiday, and visited my sister and her family, again, during Thanksgiving.

My main vacation is coming up and I hope it will be the jump start to much more photography in 2016:  I’m going to be spending 10 days in Europe (including Christmas and New Year):  8 days in London and 2 days in Paris.  Everything is paid for, I printed out all of my tickets, and I am all packed, including my camera backpack:

  • Canon 5DS body
  • Canon 5DS-R body
  • Canon 1DX body
  • Canon 11-24mm lens
  • Canon 24-105mm IS lens
  • Canon 24-70mm IS lens
  • Tripod, a gazillion memory cards, a small Canon flash, a couple of wireless shutter releases, and lots of extra, fully-charged batteries

I’m not taking my 70-200mm lens because it’s heavy and my backpack is already heavy enough (plus I’m taking two suitcases as well as my laptop bag with travel laptop, mouse, memory card readers, 2 external hard drives – 1 TB each, iPhone, iPad, book, and folder with all of my ticket information for the various venues I will attend).  I can only take so much – don’t even ask me what I’ve packed in the suitcases (grin).

I apologize for not publishing more blog posts.  I know one is supposed to do that to keep readership and to keep one’s writing skills in tip-top shape.  I’ll get back into the groove, I promise.  I’ll have free WiFi in my London and Paris hotels, so I know I’ll be editing photos and writing about my experiences, uploading to both my Facebook photography page as well as my Twitter account.  I may even publish a post while there.  For now, stay tuned to forthcoming imagery from my 2015 trip, as well as the trips I have planned for 2016.  I plan on making up for lost time.

N6A3701_Seahawks Becky Cap

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Filed under 1DX, 5DS, Attitude, Aviation, birds, Brazoria NWR, Brazos Bend State Park, Canon, Canon 11-24mm, Canon Lens, Equipment, Landscape, Life, macro, nature, Photography, Texas, wildlife, Wildlife Refuge

A Visit to the Lone Star Flight Museum

Thunderbird B-17G Flying Fortress

Thunder Bird B-17G Flying Fortress

I’ve lived in Texas for a little over 16 years now, and it’s taken me this long to discover Galveston’s Lone Star Flight Museum.  I still probably would not have heard of this place had I not been Googling around for some other aviation-related item and just happened to chance upon this site.

I’m interested in all things WWII-related.  If you’ve read my previous post “Remembrance”, then you know my father was a WWII paratrooper who jumped over Normandy on D-Day.

I’d just finished editing a large set of wedding photos and decided for my first free Saturday to take a little drive along the Gulf Coast toward Galveston and visit this museum.  Naturally, I took along one of my cameras (the 1DX with the 16-35mm lens).  I also brought along my 24-70mm lens but exclusively utilized the 16-35 because I wanted that wider-angle perspective perfect for capturing most, if not the entire, plane view.

The museum is well-lit, but it’s still an interior venue; this means I set my camera to a relatively high ISO of 640; I subsequently brightened up the images a little more during the post-process stage.

First Sight in the Hangar

First sight that greets the museum visitor’s eyes

Nose Art

Nose Art

Nose art

Some people think that these buxom, scantily-clad women (not including that winged tiger) are denigrating to the female sex.  I totally disagree!  But maybe it’s because I – on occasion – have the opportunity to photograph very lovely women (sometimes scantily-clad), myself, and thus I see the beauty in what was captured on the plane’s noses.  Don’t forget that this artistry was also a great morale booster to young men very far away from home.  The museum has a great explanation of the nose art you see here in these two photos.  My favorite piece of art is ‘Surprise Attack”.

Willys MB 1943

Willys MB 1943

Planes are not the only items on exhibit in the museum.

Tarheel Hal

Tarheel Hal P-47D Thunderbolt

Special Delivery

Special Delivery – B-25 Mitchell Bomber

During the time I visited, a James Doolittle reenactor was recounting Doolittle’s Raid to several listeners (including yours truly) .  I had a chance to speak to the gentleman afterwards, who told me he’d been doing this for 4 years, during which time he had the good fortune to speak to several survivors as well as to Doolittle’s biographer.

Bum Steer - P51 Mustang

Bum Steer P51 Mustang

According to the placard for this plane, the engine didn’t “meet the expectations of the U.S. Army Air Corps”; Britain re-fitted the planes with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine which greatly improved performance.

Annie Mo  F4U-5N Corsair

“Annie Mo” F4U-5N Corsair

The wing configuration reminds me of the imperial shuttle on Star Wars.  My tour guide Kevin told me that George Lucas is a huge WW II buff.

Marlene - Uncle Hos Nightmare

“Marlene – Uncle Ho’s Nightmare”

Million Airess

“Million Airess”

As a photographer, I absolutely LOVE the nose art on these planes.  Those artists were amazing.

Yellow Peril

Yellow Peril

Surplus Stearmans were sold as crop dusters and stunt planes after the war.  This gorgeous yellow model immediately brought to mind the yellow bi plane crop duster I sometimes see on my way home from Houston, swooping around and flying low to the ground.

A Stearman and A Texan

Ready to Roll

The museum offers 25-minute flights on both the Stearman bi plane and the T-6 Texan Trainer (for a price – check their website for more details).  Flights are offered on Saturdays, good weather permitting.  During the day I visited, the cloud ceiling was too low, otherwise I would have splurged for a ride (had I not been saving for my upcoming Alaska trip, I would have probably taken a ride in both, because they both looked like awesome fun).

FYI –  I recently read an online article indicating the Lone Star Flight Museum will be moved inland to Ellington Field sometime in the spring of 2016.   You see, Hurricane Ike did a number on the museum (to the tune of about $18 million) and damaged several planes.  There’s an American flag hanging on the wall above one of the jeeps; this flag bears a dirty water mark indicating the height of the flood waters that rushed into the museum’s hangars.

Becky and the T-6 Texan Trainer

Becky and The Texan

Special thanks to museum photographer Kevin McGowan for snapping some “me” shots in front of the Texan and the Stearman.  The show woman in me wants to return all gussied up wearing a 1940’s dress for some more photos. Open-mouthed smile

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Filed under Aviation, Canon, low light photography, Photography, Texas