The Seafair Air Show

If you will recall, I rented a Nikon 600mm f/4.0D AF-S II VR to take pictures of the Blue Angels in 2012…because why not?

Unfortunately, the Blue Angels were canceled last year, but they were back this year!

So I rented the Nikon 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR…mostly because I could:

From www.kenrockwell.com:

Pros don’t buy these lenses. Nikon and Canon’s pro support programs loan them out for free at sporting events hoping TV viewers see more black or white to influence consumers. Therefore, don’t take any of the prices that seriously. Nikon and Canon probably take a loss on the sale of each of these lenses, considering the small quantities sold. They are created mostly for bragging rights, like the unbeaten Nikon 13mm f/5.6.

It was fun to rent, but shooting anything with a lens like this is hard. Ideally I would just move closer to the airplanes, but until the FAA decides to let drones fly with planes (or the Blue Angels invite me to ride along) I’m stuck with have to use the power of optics.

The issue which shooting with such a large lense is mostly the haze and smoke trails. The heat shimmer kicks in eventually if you get enough air between the you and the object you’re trying to shoot:

DSC_0044

You may need to embiggen to get a good look, but the planes basically look like a mosaic because of the heat shimmer — and there’s no amount of Photoshop that can fix that.

From en.wikipedia.org:

Convection causes the temperature of the air to vary, and the variation between the hot air […] and the denser cool air […] creates a gradient in the refractive index of the air. This produces a blurred shimmering effect, which affects the ability to resolve objects, the effect being increased when the image is magnified through a telescope or telephoto lens.

Your best bet is to get a polarizer (which I unfortunately didn’t have) and shoot at 90° to the sun, as shown by the Rayleigh sky model (See also: Polarizing filter). There’s actually a pretty cool tool called SunCalc that will show you where the sun will be at a given date and time — very useful for things like this.

Still, with just over 1500 photos I was bound to get some good ones. Interestingly enough, it’s not that hard to actually track the planes once you get a bead on them. Here are the 4% that made the cut:

DSC_9078
800.0 mm || 1/320 || f/9.0 || ISO400 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9112
800.0 mm || 1/6400 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9116
800.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9152
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9251
800.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9293
800.0 mm || 1/5000 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9369-9372_Pano
800.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/11.0 || ISO1000 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9391
800.0 mm || 1/4000 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9442
800.0 mm || 1/6400 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9488
800.0 mm || 1/4000 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9551
800.0 mm || 1/6400 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9587
800.0 mm || 1/5000 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9609
800.0 mm || 1/6400 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9671
800.0 mm || 1/5000 || f/5.6 || ISO1000 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9748
800.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/7.1 || ISO800 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9751
800.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/7.1 || ISO800 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9783
800.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/7.1 || ISO800 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9823
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9839
1000.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/7.1 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9877
1000.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/7.1 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9904
1000.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/7.1 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9912
1000.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/7.1 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_9981
1000.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/7.1 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0003
1000.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/7.1 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0012
1000.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/7.1 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0028
1000.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/7.1 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0031
1000.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/7.1 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0050
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0068
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0069
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0095-Edit
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0152
800.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0166
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0168
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0177
800.0 mm || 1/3200 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0182
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0249
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0298
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0299
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0338
800.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0340
800.0 mm || 1/2000 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0341
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0369
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0414
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0415
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0462-Edit
800.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

DSC_0478
800.0 mm || 1/4000 || f/5.6 || ISO500 || NIKON D7000
Mercer Island, Washington, United States

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Humans Need Not Apply

Just as mechanical muscles made human labor less in demand so are mechanical minds making human brain labor less in demand.

This is an economic revolution. You may think we’ve been here before, but we haven’t.

This time is different.

Automation is here, and it’s been expanding in cognitive ability. We already have self-driving cars, and, by some accounts, nearly all cars will be autonomous by 20501.

The question is not if they’ll replaces cars, but how quickly. They don’t need to be perfect, they just need to be better than us. Humans drivers, by the way, kill 40,000 people a year with cars just in the United States. Given that self-driving cars don’t blink, don’t text while driving, don’t get sleepy or stupid, it easy to see them being better than humans because they already are.

It’s not just self-driving cars2 though.

There is this notion that just as mechanical muscles allowed us to move into thinking jobs that mechanical minds will allow us all to move into creative work. But even if we assume the human mind is magically creative — it’s not, but just for the sake of argument — artistic creativity isn’t what the majority of jobs depend on.

This video isn’t about how automation is bad — rather that automation is inevitable. It’s a tool to produce abundance for little effort. We need to start thinking now about what to do when large sections of the population are unemployable — through no fault of their own. What to do in a future where, for most jobs, humans need not apply.

via Kottke

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  1. Autoblog: Nearly all cars to be autonomous by 2050 

  2. “Now to describe self-driving cars as cars at all is like calling the first cars mechanical horses. Cars in all their forms are so much more than horses that using the name limits your thinking about what they can even do. Lets call self-driving cars what they really are: Autos: the solution to the transport-objects-from-point-A-to-point-B problem.” 

Calendar Invitation Email Gone Awry

Here’s some more details on calendar email issue I noted late Monday.

Just after 10pm on Monday, I attempted to migrate my calendar from Google Calendar to Fastmail Calendar1.

I did this by exporting my existing calendar from Google (per https://support.google.com/calendar/answer/37111?hl=en) and then re-importing it back into Fastmail using Apple’s Calendar App. During this re-importing process, it appears that the Fastmail system regenerated the event requests and emailed all the participants of the events; although I initially suspected Apple’s Calendar app.

My wife, who was sitting next to me, was the first to let me know something was awry when she received over 400 emails from me.

After aborting last nights attempt, I tried again to import the data again Tuesday morning by using FastMail’s “Subscribe to a public calendar” feature (https://www.fastmail.fm/help/calendar/publiccalendar.html), which should not have resulted in emails being sent but still did.

In total, 109 people were affected by this issue and up to 2904 emails were sent (1452 from each incident).

Graph of Emails Sent

The good news (if there is such a thing) is that 45% of those affected only received a single email (well, two emails), and 78% of those affected received less than 10 emails (20 emails across both incidents).

Unfortunately, emails were also sent to people even when I was not the original organizer of the event. This accounted for over half the emails that were sent.

I have opened a ticket with Fastmail (Calendar import emailing participants (Ticket Id: 479473)). Fastmail has been prompt and the issue is, in theory, resolved. However, in the future I plan on scrubbing the calendar file of email address to prevent this issue from occurring again.

For those curious, here’s how I extracted2 the number of those affected from the ICS file:

grep -Eiorh 'mailto:([[:alnum:]_.-]+@[[:alnum:]_.-]+?\.[[:alpha:].]{2,6})' "$@" basic.ics | sort | uniq -c | sort -r

Mea Culpa.

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  1. there’s a larger story about why, but that’s not important at the moment 

  2. based on mosg’s answer on http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2898463/using-grep-to-find-all-emails/2898907#2898907