Friday, March 21, 2008

Travels with Egg

Co-pilot Egg is out of school for the week for the so-called Spring Break. Being 14 and all, she hasn't the Caribbean option for recreational activity, so is stuck here in sunny Columbus for the duration. I try to take at least one day off during her sojourn in order to make our annual-when-we-think-of-it trip to the US Air Force Museum in Dayton.

I like to take my camera, but it usually turns into an exercise in futility. There is very little light in the museum, and what little there is is usually yellow. Because it's so dark, the flash on the camera can't do an adequate job of lighting the entire airplane, and because of the color, everything ends up with a wicked tint. Here's an example:

(Reminder: click on picture for larger view!)

There wasn't much that I could do to get a useful picture out of that in color, so I made it black & white and added some grain to it:

That turned out fairly well, but only because of the nature of the subject. I wouldn't want to do them all that way. What I decided to try instead was to bring the tripod with us, and use it to hold the camera steady enough to allow the use of a much longer shutter speed. With a long enough shutter speed, the ambient light should be enough to light the entire airplane. That worked for the most part, but I found a new problem right away: the pictures all had an overall deep tint of orange or blue to them, depending on the type of lighting the museum had selected for any particular exhibit. My camera has a selectable/customizable white balance, though, so I experimented with different settings until I got what appeared to be acceptable results in the LCD screen:

I really like this one:

Egg liked this one because it's purple/pink:

I'm considering getting a parachute for Brave Sir Hogarth after seeing this:

A challenge to photography equally difficult to the lighting issue was the schedule Egg was enforcing to ensure that we weren't late to the Imax movie (one of our annual events), so I didn't stop to read the placard to learn exactly why a dog needed a parachute. Later Google research explains it:


This parachute was specially made for "Vittles," a dog that flew 131 missions with his owner, 1Lt. Russ Steber, during the Berlin Airlift. Gen. Curtis LeMay named the dog and ordered the parachute made for him. Vittles, a boxer, accumulated around 2,000 flying hours, but never had to use the parachute. His owner, Lt. Steber, did have to bail out of a C-47 over the Soviet zone on one occasion, but Vittles was not with him on that trip. Steber was captured and returned to the West a few days later.

So there ya go. Of course, without the use of opposing digits (i.e. thumbs), I'm not sure how old Vittles was expected to pull a rip cord.

We also visited one of the airplanes that I worked on when I was in the Air Force:

We also found time to visit some of the more interactive displays:

I used my new flash for these since it did a much better job of filling the light. Here's the same picture from two years ago using a lesser flash:

Egg is trying to perform a spacewalk using a rocket backpack- you'd look intense too:

There are more pictures, of course. You can see them here:

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