Translab Diary T-02:08:37:00

Yesterday, I loaded up the left side pannier with the dried food, gas stove, butane fuel and few other should have tools (as the tool you need is always the tool you don’t have) and then I stuffed my sleeping bag in there.  It was a tight fit.

“Good,” I thought.  You don’t want stuff rattling around.  I’d put my tripod, and tent across the passenger seat with my Dry bags that have my clothes and such and strap the whole smash down.  I put the lid on the box and happy with myself I went inside.

At 4am this morning, the deepest part of  my brain, explained to me in great detail why this wasn’t a good idea.  Where was I going to put my Netbook, charging gear and my lucky jacket (yes it’s lucky that’s all you need to know).  The sleeping bag was going to have to move and the obvious place was back on the passenger seat.

And then I looked at the forecast…  It’s shall we say a bit wettish for the next little bit.  Now I don’t mind the rain but I hate crawling into a damp sleeping bag and when it rains out here, it can be pretty strong.

The good news is this problem has been solved by the boating and kayaking crowd.   Dry bags are a must have if you’re going to be out in the thick of it for any extended period of time.  I’ve got a couple of 10L bags I picked up at Hiker’s Haven three years ago for $10 each.  They’ve got more than a few miles on them and they’re still going strong and have kept my gear dry through some biblical level of rains.  They are however long and skinny.   So on the way home from the current project I’m working on for the day job, I stopped in at Sail to see what they had to offer and this was the result.

You can’t tell but there’s a Tent, a Sleeping Bag and a Camera Tripod in there and it also makes a really nice backrest.  The Straps on top of my Panniers will hold my other two dry bags full of my clothes and such.  If I get hit on the highway, it’ll be carnage and flaming underwear for hundreds of feet.  The top box will hold my camera gear.

A little wider shot to show you how it all works together.

From left to right we have my heated grips controller, then my Thermometer and GPS and then my long camera mount and the Spot unit.  You can follow my progress on Spot here.  It’s called the Rough Track, which is funny, because it’s the name they gave it, not me.

A closer look at the Spot unit.

And there you have it.  I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.  Now I’m just counting out the week to that 6am Saturday roll out.  I doubt I’ll have much access to the Internet, so posts will be sporadic but I’ll give you all the full story when I get back.

Edited to make me look good, of course.

Translab Diary T-05.19.30.00

Shot this today on the 7D.  I’m using my 10-20mm Lens so the image is a little deformed but I wanted most if not all of the bike in the shot.  This time next week, I’ll be on the road.  I picked up a Sony Action Cam today (over the GoPro) so I’m planning on doing a longer video of the whole thing when I’m safely home.  But I think these short Vlogs aren’t a bad idea either, just to give you the flavour of what I’m feeling.  Any trip has its emotional ups and downs and this one will be no different.  I’m hoping to uncover a little bit of what my Grandfather was about from the place he was born and lived before he left to try and keep the world a better place.

Other than that, it’s just me, my bike and the kindness of strangers.

Rained Out

The forecast was pretty bleak this morning but I decided to risk it with the boy and head out to Gopher Dunes Dirt Track in the hopes that the weather would be clear by the time we got there.  No such luck.  What started as a light drizzle turned into a downpour within minutes and for once I was not prepared for it.  I did manage to fashion a temporary rain cover for the camera out of a Henry’s bag so the 7D was safe but the Colin and I were getting soaked.

Still, water and sand makes for some good shots as the youngsters fight their way through it and though I only got off eighty five exposures (to my usual two thousand) I still got some good work in.  You can see in the later shots how hard the rain is coming down.

First shot of the day, I’m shooting ISO 500 at F6.3. Shutter is 1/250. At this point the rain is a light drizzle so nothing is showing up in the image.

I knew I’d get some good action in the corners.

And I wasn’t wrong.

Shooting long

Here’s the rain starting to fall. I’m too engrossed in getting the shots to realize I’m getting soaked.

Setting up for the hard corner.

A nice rooster tail. At least in a wet race, you know who is out front as they’re not covered in crap.

Second place coming into the turn.

This’ll be the last race I can make until the end of August.  Hopefully the next one will be drier but I’m going to invest in a rain cover for the camera, just in case.  Hope you enjoyed the shots.

 

Translab Diary , T-13.14.23.00

I was supposed to do the Lawrence Hacking’s Overland Adventure Rally today but instead I got to reap the results of being called in to work last Saturday.  Because I had to work, I didn’t get my tires changed and taking a good look at the state of my front.  I’m not going to trust that on gravel.

Even my rear was getting a bit squiffy.

I had heard through the club that Carrier Group Center in Hamilton had picked up Dual Sport Plus’ product lines (and I’m guessing the remainder of the store stock) and were going to be moving in to servicing the Adventure Bike scene on top of their usual trail and dirt bike business.  I fired off an email trying to get a service appointment for a tire change, last week.  Nothing came of it.  Which I find pretty irritating.  Don’t post up a contact email if you’re simply not going to bother answering it.

I decided to try Rosey Toes.  A local motorcycle mechanic shop that’s been servicing the Toronto scene for a very long time, who I’d heard about through the GTAM forum and local scene.  I was warned Ted was a bit crusty but I happen to like crusty as it means no bullshit.  Ted has no email and no computer.  You go to him, you pay cash.

So after running some short errands with the wife, I headed over to the Rosey Toes shop.  The address is in North York, which I always think is much further North that it really is.  Where I’m thinking it’s halfway to Barrie, it’s actually just to the East of Pearson and North of the 401 in a semi industrial area.  I’ve got a couple of clients in that area so I nearly slapped my forehead when I realized how close it was.

It’s a real honest to God old school shop.  Everybody wanting stuff done to their bikes hangs around outside.  Regulars get first dibs on the work or if it’s not super serious, they get rescheduled later in the week.  There’s an ebb and flow to joint that isn’t going to work for people with some place else to be that day.  You park your ass, relax and talk bikes with the other customers and wait your turn.  Ted will put you to work too if the rims you’re getting new rubber on aren’t clean enough.

I had to laugh as a young squid pulled up on a rashed up street fighter.  If I had to guess I’d say it was an 84 GSXR.  He told Ted he had an issue with his chain.  Ted and one of the other mechanics went over the bike.  They re-tensioned the chain and changed the kid’s oil (after asking him if he wanted that done and then they informed him he’d been riding with ten pounds pressure in the front and twenty pounds in the rear.  But to be fair they were educating a young rider who obviously didn’t know any better and they did it in the same way other mechanics educated me when I knew fuck all.  The kid rode away happier and a little smarter and one day I hope he’ll realize the discomfort of a bit of gear is better than a skin graft.

Anyway, after a couple of hours my bike was rolled in and the tires changed and it cost me $80.  I would have paid more at the Carrier Center and I’m sure it would have been more of a sterile experience.

One other thing, these guys are into old bikes.  There’s plenty hanging around and I saw more than few bits of old iron roll up during my stay from an R-75 BMW to an 85 Nighthawk in really good condition that was getting safety certified.

Yeah I had fun…

Here’s the new rubber.

There’s a slight oscillation on the front end at 100+ Kmh but I think it’s related to the fact there’s no center block on the tire, just a groove and the tire wanders back and forth on the edges of the knobs.  It dies down when you’re under the 100 Kmh mark.  It doesn’t help that the Toronto roads are beat to shit by the level of traffic so you’re surfing wavy concrete and asphalt everywhere.  I’m not considering going super fast on any part of the Translab, though it does surprise me how much slower I was instantly on these tires.  It could be I’m wary of the knobbies as I haven’t been on a DOT rated knobby for over twelve years and you have to adjust your brain for the new contact patch.  These Karoo 2s are really just for this trip, I’ll be swapping them off when I get back.  There was a guy with a R-1200 GS getting a set of Karoo 3s put on, they look like a much road friendlier pattern, I may try a set of them.

The rubber is now done, all that left is an oil change and cleaning my air filter.

D Day approaches.

 

Sentimental Journey

At 1 PM yesterday afternoon a B-17G called Sentimental Journey touched down at the Canadian Warplane Museum in Hamilton, Ontario.  The aircraft is owned, flown and maintained by the Commemorative Airforce in Arizona.  She will be here till July 6th and you can arrange a flight in her by contacting the Commemorative Airforce in Arizona directly.

I first saw this aircraft at the 1986 Abbotsford International Airshow, so it was pretty cool to see her again after so long a time.   Her story is here.

Entering the pattern for the first pass over the field.

This one’s kind of dreamy.

A good one of the ball turret.

Taxiing in.

A real candidate for shot of the day.

And then a cloud came out…

And of course a little bit of the HDR touch to bring out her shine.

 

 

Gods of Speed – Mosport – 2014

As far as days at the track go, it could have gone better.  Compared to the Vintage Race weekend we attended a few weeks ago, attendance was a bit sparse.  I wasn’t aware it was the inaugural event.  The turnout was sparse at best.  By sparse I mean thirteen cars in the main display area and maybe six cars actually out doing laps on the track.  However if all you need to do laps is a helmet and a racing suit, I can see some purchases being made for next year’s event but I’ll get to that in a bit.

I like Motorsport get together events for a couple of reasons.  One, you’re probably going to see some cool and or rare stuff (and even with only thirteen vehicles on the display line, this event did not disappoint).  Two, you’ll meet some interesting characters.  Three, regardless of the turnout there still a chance you’re going to get that, “Shot of the day.”  Otherwise known as, “The shot you didn’t know you had until you’re working your way through the post production later.

To be frank, I need that particular shot.  This week started with my external hard drive, the one with three years of captures on it, decided to cack out completely.  Lucky for me the bulk of the good shots are in the cloud on my Smugmug account but even though they are full size, they are .jpg files, my RAW data is gone forever.  So I’m done with the big drives.  I’ve had two fail on me and I’ve lost a lot of past work in the process.  My smaller drives seem to tick along just fine, so I’ll be sticking to them from now on.  Ultimately I’d go solid state but the pricing isn’t quite there yet.  So yeah, it was a shitty way to start the week, compounded by the failure of my desktop computer a day later.Lucky for me, that just turned out to be a burnt out power supply.  Sixty bucks later and we’re back in business.  I’ll be looking at a newer system in the Fall, right now there isn’t the cash for me to upgrade what I’ve got but really, other than storage, it’s fine.

For the bulk of the shots today, I’m using my workhorse lens, my 17-70mm  f2.8 – 4.0 Sigma.  Because of the level of light, I slapped on a my variable ND filter and set it about three stops down.  I think it did a pretty good job of knocking the highlights out.

The first gentleman I talked to was the owner of this Velocette. The blue is a custom color but seeing as he save this bike and its sister from the scrap pile and brought them back to life as racing bikes no less is cool all by itself.

Here’s the sister, also resurrected from the dead.

Even with steering dampening….

I love the exhaust.

This was the car beside the bikes. It’s an ice racer currently on slicks. It was bloody fast round the track.

This is an 02 Mini Cooper S powerplant. Mine’s an 03. He’s done a few mods to his engine. All stuff that gives you ideas, though we did talk about how the standard ready power is plenty. Being able to get your HP from 163 up into the 250 range would be… interesting.

Though there isn’t a millimeter to spare in this fully tricked out Original Mini. This one is actually a Rover version and not a Cooper Works modified, though you’d be hard pressed to tell.

So this would be the rare. Bedford made a ton of large trucks for the military and an equally large numbers of vans for the public but this is the first I’ve ever seen at a car show ever. It has a top speed of 60 miles an hour and it gets 25 miles to the gallon with it’s four cylinder motor. Not bad for a vehicle of its vintage.

This car is a real hot rod. Vintage shell…

Corvette Heart. Robbie Gordon does all right with one of these in his two wheel drive H2 Rally Car.

 

Of course with nobody really around, you could get very up close and personal with your shots.

It didn’t take too long to exhaust the photographic opportunities of the static displays.  Colin had had his snack (food and timing of food consumption is a big part of his routine).  The best part of an event which is virtually a ghost town is that there’s no chance of losing him in a crowd and there is literally tons of room for him to run in.  This lowers the stress of an outing a fair bit.

I swapped the 17-70mm out for the 150-500mm and we hit trackside.  Unlike their usual format, the track was running counter clockwise which meant a bit of rejigging of my usual shooting positions.  I like to shoot inside the curve but as mentioned Mosport is a track with a lot of altitude changes.  So your angles to dangle to get the, “Good,” shot are or can be limited.  If I was by myself, the track side access is a lot easier but I usually have Colin along and that rules out the best spots right away and we’re stuck to working the perimeter fence which is fifteen feet back and sometimes thirty feet up from track side.  I decided to set up on the inside of corner two, known as Clayton’s corner.  When the track is run in the normal pattern this is a corner where the cars or bikes drop away and down into an outside camber sweeping left hand turn.  As they were running the track backwards, the cars would be coming up towards me and then swinging away.  I’d be able to get some shots from either side of the vehicle as it worked its way through the turn.  The only issue is that your distance closure is very rapid and it can make focusing difficult.

First up was our Ice racing MR2. He took full advantage of his track access and completed 57 laps before lunch. An average lap is in the 1:30 range for the guys who know what they’re doing.  So what I like about this position is you can see the suspension load as he works his way through the turn.

I like shooting long and almost getting in the driver’s seat with these guys.

Each lap offers a different shooting opportunity and allows me to calm myself down and be smoother with the camera.

One shot from the other side coming in to the turn.

This is the driver’s regular car. In order to get it on the track, he just throws on a helmet and racing suit and he gets to put it through its paces. Because they’re running individual laps, it’s a lot safer for guys who want to do this. Nothing needs to be safety wired, drained, taped or removed.

Now we get to the part of the day which made it really made it worthwhile from both a photographic and personal experience point of view.  There were a couple of monopostal racers there.  One was for a Lotus 56/69 which didn’t run the track while we were there and the other I’ll have to tell you about because I was too busy to take pictures.

The next shots are of Kieran Murphy in his F1 open wheel racer.  I Googled him and he’s a top of his field Radiologist who also invents medical devices.  It was his car which got me what I consider to be my, “Shot of the day.”

Coming in to the turn and lining himself up for the shot up the hill.

The long lens is earning its keep here.

You get a real feel for how close to the ground these cars sit in this shot.

This shot is good and it was on my list for shot of the day….

But this was the clear winner. This is the shot that made the day worth it.

Not that I had any idea of this capture at the time.

There was going to be a parade (paced) lap on the track at noon and it just so happened we were there for it.  Getting My Cooper S on a track even for just a parade lap was a big deal.  Lucky for me, I wasn’t the only Mini out there.  There was a guy running a regular Cooper out there all morning.  I formed up in the line behind a vintage Silver Stingray and we rolled out onto the track.  Behind me were some younger guys in an Acura coupe of some sort.  So my Mini is an 03 Cooper S with a Supercharged 1.6L engine with 163 HP.  The car is low and wide and in second and third gear with your foot to the floor it moves like a scared cat.

So the idea in any formation is to stay with the guy in front of you.  We came out of pit lane at the bottom of turn one and shot off down the hill.  The drop and outside camber took me a bit by surprise but I kept it together and found the line.  Things bunched up a bit a turn three as you rise up into it.  The guy in the Acura was pretty close and it was somewhat obvious his suspension wasn’t enjoying the track so much.

Turn five is a right hand hairpin.  You rise up into it and it turns into a diminishing radius corner which has a gradual left going in to the straightaway.  So things really bunch up at the base of the hairpin and then open up as people shoot off down the straightaway.  As we’re not going too fast I’ve got her in second and Acura boy is right behind me.  We hit the bottom of the hairpin and I give it some gas to keep my speed up.  The Mini goes up the hill well and around the corner at a good clip and in my rear view, I see the Acura drop back.  I hit the apex, find the line to hit the inside of the turn and stomp on it.  A quick flick into third and then I’m catching up to the rest of the inmates at turn eight.  There is nothing behind me in the rear view.  Colin is enjoying this as well as evident by his shouts of, “Here we go!”

I see the Acura come screaming up the straight like somebody late to a party.  If that car had arms, they’d be flailing and when he went hard on the brakes to slow down, that wasn’t pretty either.  We did three laps and every lap was the same for this guy.  I’ll admit, it’d be interesting to see how I’d do with just myself on the track at speed.  I’ll have to do some research and see what it’d take to get out there for real…

You know, because I need another hobby.

 

 

Translab Diary T – 33:20:23.00

Translab_Trip

Thirty three days out to departure.  It might not feel like it to you but I can feel the beat of this trip advancing.  All while still trying to do the day job and family stuff.  I know I’m going to be forgetting to take stuff, there’s always those things you’ve overlooked in your planning but that’s part of the fun /frustration of a trip like this.

Got the rewiring done on the bike this week.  So now I have line power direct to the Spot Gen 3 Unit and it turned out my battery monitor wasn’t burned out after all.  I had to run new wire and remount it but it’s also up and running so I’ll be able to monitor power usage .

You’ll be able to follow my track here.

I took a short run down to Toronto yesterday to pick up some Tea and figured it would be a good time to check out the real time tracking.  This was the end result…

Spot_Track_Test

I imagine it’ll be a lot more spread out once I’m on the trip proper.  I wasn’t sure about the Spot unit but I will admit, it does add piece of mind.  The basic package gives a reading every ten minutes.

So the outbound leg looks to be just under 3000Km.  The return leg…

Translab_Return_Leg

Is a little longer at 3500Km.  I should be down to the nubs on my knobbies by the time I get home.  Barring that, I may need to find new tires somewhere along my route.

I’ve spent the morning on ADV watching video footage of the Translab.  You get a good idea of the road condition from these things.  It looks like pretty manageable hardpack for the bulk of it with some loose section thrown in to freak you out.  The best part is it doesn’t look like they use slash gravel on their road surfaces like New Brunswick does.  That stuff chews up your tires in a hurry.

I also started shifting things around in my panniers yesterday to make room for all of this extra camping gear.  Now I’ve got one 35L box completely empty.  I should be able to everything I need to comfortably inside it.  There may even be room for my long lens in there.  I’m being very aware of the weight distribution and trying to keep things within boundaries.  The last Maritimes trip I took I had a good 150lbs of gear on the bike and it felt like it.  I’ve come a long way since then.  Binning the tank bag was probably one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.

Things left to do to the bike?

Change the oil, clean my air filter and throw on the new rubber.

Mechanically she’s as sound as she’s always been.  It’s the rider who’s slowly falling apart.

10153185_10151953491897385_414600627_n

Canadian Tire Motorsports Park Vintage Race – 2014

As I’ve said before, I love old vehicles, the more hand crafted the better.  With vintage stuff a good chunk of the machine is out there in front of God and everybody to see.  If modern machines have gotten wrong, it’s hiding everything under a cover of blacked aluminum.  It reduces an engine to a black box instead of the metal balloon that contains the power of exploding gasoline and hard moving metal.  A Turbo Porche going a hundred miles and hour is cool to watch but you watch a car built in 1934 do the same?  That is inspiring.

Mosport (yeah I know what it’s called now but everybody still just calls it Mosport) is actually a bit of a bitch of a track to shoot at.  There’s a lot of elevation changes.  Sight lines are not always the best and the track is really big.  The above shit is on corner five, which is a hairpin at the top of a hill that drops down to the straightaway on it’s back side.  The shot above looks like I’m at track level but the truth is I’m forty feet up a bank shooting down into the corner with the lens maxed out at 500mm (800mm equivalent).

This race was the real test for me as far as this new long zoom goes.  I knew I’d be faced with many of the same focusing conditions (among other challenges) and light issues on objects moving very fast by me.  My older Canon zooms had been letting me down big time in this department.  Their auto focus was time and time again letting me down on subjects moving towards me and past me.  A focus that can keep up with the action is a must.  When you drop $1200 on a lens, you really worry that you’ve gotten your money’s worth.  Of course part of it is you also figuring how to use this new tool you’ve acquired properly.

A similar shot at 150mm (240mm equivalent) to show the real bank of the shot.

There were more than a few rare cars out there. This Ferrari was one of them.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Lotus 2

This thing was fast.

My personal favorite.

My personal favorite.

 

Sometimes bits drop off.

And sometimes you’re in the weeds.

The open wheel Monopostale class was lots of fun.

This believe it or not, was the fastest car in its class. This guy lapped everybody except four cars.

Yes, I can read your dash.

There’ were two Hondas in this class and they sounded like they were running a 8000rpm.

And there you have it.  Some of the best shots out of the 2700 exposures I shot that day.  Which is why it took me so long to post these up.  That’s a fair bit of work.

 

Skyfest 2014 – The Usual Suspects

This year CWHM’s Lancaster was painted in the R for Ropey configuration, a bomber that had over 60 missions to its credit.  There was a fair amount of grumbling over this paint scheme with many glad she’d be going back to her original colors for the UK trip coming up.

As Skyfest is mostly about getting rides in various collection aircraft under your belt I thought I’d show a bunch of them and of course some of the aircraft that dropped in to say, “Hi,” for the special weekend.  If there is one thing I do like about living out here, it’s the rare aircraft I’ve seen.  I’m pretty familiar with the B-24D and J versions of the Liberator (even the PB4Y, though yet to see one of those in the flesh) I’d never seen an A variant.

So, “Diamond Lil,” was a cool plane to look over.

And before we get too far into this, here’s some video of the Mosquito, The Land and the Mitchell all singing in harmony.

Of course there were plenty of opportunities to catch some pretty cool panes in flight.

If I had one bitch, it’s that the Lysander never really got close enough to the flight line for a fly over.

T-28s in formation.

One of the guests.

I will admit, I really like this long lens and its ability to reach out and get the interesting subject.

The Beech 18 taxis in.

Towing a T-28 out to the flight line.

All in all, the day was a great chance to try out a new lens and get some time under my belt to discover its ins and outs.  Time well spent because the following day I would find myself shooting vintage race cars on a circuit that does not always have the best sight lines.  The new Sigma 150-500mm f5.6-6.5 has an excellent and fast focus.  For the most part it kept up with my rapid fire shooting style.  Any focus issues were purely the fault of me the operator and the sometimes inherent slower servo focus of the 7D.  Is it a heavy lens?  Yeah but then what long lens isn’t.  I’m a big boy, I can take it.  I still think it was money well spent but it’s going to be September before I can get out to another motocross track to give it a workout on the bikes.

I’ve got another event at Mosport coming up in a couple of weeks, so you can look forward to that but my next post will be about the vintage race at the same track, where the lens really showed me what it could do.

Skyfest 2014 – The Mosquito

There are aircraft that you love above all else.  The Avro Vulcan,  The Avro Lancaster, The Supermarine Spitfire, The P-51D Mustang even the Grumman Avenger but then there is that one that rises above them all.  For me that aircraft is the de Haviland Mosquito.  An aircraft made mostly of wood (Sitka Spruce to be exact) designed to be built by furniture and cabinet makers during the war.  One of the fastest aircraft of the day, using its speed and agility to deliver the same payload as a B-17 bomber with only a crew of a pilot and a navigator and initially no guns on the airframe at all.  Of course that all changed when the Mk.VI came out.  The clear Perspex nose blister was removed and the shape shortened, four Hispano 20mm Canon and four .303″ Browning machine guns were added to the space.  At full tilt boogie, the aircraft sent out a wall of lead.  It was formidable.

It was a Mosquito that brought down the aircraft of the man who killed my grandfather and his crew.  Something I learned in just the last few months.

Sadly, the Mossie is extremely rare.  The thing that made it so special its wood structure does not wear as long or as hard as Aluminum.  Until two years ago, there were none flying.  Thankfully a company in New Zealand was finishing a long restoration on a Mk. VI Fighter / Bomber.  I had planned to see it at the Hamilton Airshow but work (as usual) screwed me over and it didn’t happen.  I was even more gutted to hear the aircraft had been sold to an Italian interested party and would not be seen in North American airspace again.

Lucky for me, the Italian deal fell through and the aircraft’s owner brought her back this year.  I made sure to book off the weekend well in advance.

Skyfest was a much smaller event than the usual Airshow.  To compensate, tickets were not cheap but then again, what’s a bucket list check off worth anyway?  It was also going to be a try out for my new Sigma 150-500mm f5.6-6.5 lens.  Well tryout day one of two as I’d be doing the Vintage race out at Mosport the next day.  Believe me, I learned a lot about the lens, one of the biggest things being how to hold it properly.  But let’s get back to the Mosquito.

Sitting in the hanger prior to going out on the ramp. When you’re the last of the few, you get special treatment.

The thing you notice about this aircraft is how smooth the skin is.  Most metal airframes of the period are dented and dimpled by the hundreds upon hundreds of rivets in their skin.

Only five exhausts per side for a V-12 engine. Turns out the sixth exhaust was burning the fuselage so the last one is two pipes combined.

The business end.

The Pilot and Navigator’s seats. Notice that the Navigator’s seat has no armour. There’s a great book called, “Terror in the starboard seat.” Written by a Canadian mosquito navigator. Well worth a read if you can find a copy.

Leaving the hanger. Not a great shot as I’m dealing with two very extreme light levels.

Getting prepped for flight.

Taxi time. And yeah, it sounds pretty damn cool.

The Lanc follows her out.

My long lens is getting a real workout here. I’m at the full extension of 500mm, the beauty of which on the 7D is that it’s 800mm equivalent. Worth every penny for this shot.

In formation with the B-25J

The sight, I thought I’d never see.

Back on the ground far too soon.

A little HDR treatment to finish her off.

I’ll post more up about the Skyfest later in the week and I’ll also be showing some of the shots from the Vintage race as well.

As far as the lens learning curve goes, it was steep.  Because it’s a f5.6-6.5 lens without a tripod, you’re not going to get good results at ISO 100.  I found myself shooting at ISO 540 and because I was worried about depth of field issues I upped my F-stop to between f9 and f11.  This seemed to work out the best for me.  One of the guys at the Sigma booth had shown me how to reverse the lens mount for ease of use by putting it out of the way.  Bad mistake to do this as your palm then has a tendency to rest on the focus ring which will not function in AF mode if it senses any sort of resistance.  Once I’d flipped the mount back to it’s regular location, it rested on the palm of my hand and kept the ring free and clear.  My early day AF issues went away.

This is a lens which likes lots of light.  I’ll probably pick up a polarized filter for it, I’m thinking the new Hoya 2 series one (whose name escapes me right now) but just enough to knock the hot white out as you need light to make this thing work at its best.