Category Archives: Photos

First Yuneec Typhoon H drone pictures and video

I live in my own little world

Back in December 1976 I flew with three friends on a 4-seat Mooney aircraft from College Station TX to Tyler and then over to Memphis TN. That was my first airplane flight. I’m not sure I ever removed my face from the window.

Then, my first (real) job out of college in 1977 allowed me to do a lot of flying. I lived and worked in Houston but had the opportunity to fly to Dallas, New Orleans, Miami, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Chicago, New York…… It was so much fun. By the time I moved to San Diego in 1993, I had been to 38 of the 50 states.

I sat out of the work force for 11 months after arriving in San Diego, considering myself retired. Retirement’s not all it’s cracked up to be, especially if you’re used to being around lots of people all the time. So I went back into the work force and got a job that involved a significant amount of traveling–San Diego, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Columbus, Philadelphia, Tampa, Miami, New Orleans………. The list goes on and on and on.

Every time I flew, regardless of where I was flying to or from, my face was always glued to the window. I loved being up above everything looking down on it–mountains, buildings, highways, forests, lakes…… Anything and everything.

I cut back significant on flying after 9/11, especially after the Detroit Shoe Bomber. I just don’t like long lines, don’t like undressing at an airport, and don’t like people touching my junk unless I ask them to.

I missed being above, looking down.Yuneec Typhoon H

So on March 18, 2017, I bought a drone. The biggest, baddest drone I could find. With lots of bells, whistles, vibrations, and alarms. A Typhoon H Pro with RealSense Technology. It cost $1,899 at Fry’s Electronics but on that day Fry’s paid the $147.17 sales tax for me.

This thing is so big and expensive that it took me three weeks before I was brave enough to try to fly it. Been through several crashes but since I’m only flying six feet above ground, the crashes didn’t do any significant damage. Just three plastic rotors which cost about $7 each.

Then I joined the San Diego Drone Club. A little six-year-old boy set me straight: “Just do it” I think he said. So I set out to find a place where I could practice without being a hazard to people or animals. Collier Park across the street was pretty good but I never know how busy it’s going to get on any morning. I might be able to fly for two hours or two minutes. It’s also less than an acre, so if the children or dogs show up early, I’m outta there.

Today I discovered Eucalyptus County Park. It’s almost 6½ acres, and is rather isolated out in Spring Valley, about three miles from me. I arrived at 6:10 this morning and left 1½ hours later. During that time I saw only one other person. So I got a lot of practice in, especially with landing, and learning how to make the drone move in the direction I want it to move. I also got eight still pictures and two videos.

Here are my favorite two pictures from this morning at Eucalyptus Park:

Grove of palm trees from up abovePalm trees from above

Bancroft Drive with Mount San Miguel at upper leftBancroft Drive in Spring Valley CA

And here’s my best video out of four total, two today, taken using the drone’s spinaround mode:

This drone is pretty awesome because of its Intel RealSense Technology. It will communicate with up to 18 satellites to give you GPS, and once it has a lock on GPS, it can pretty much fly itself.

The ST16 Controller has more apps on it than a smart phone and allows you to set so many functions that you will need a margarita by the time you finsh:

Typhoon H ST16 Controller

The Typhoon H also comes with a remote-control called a Wizard:

Typhoon H Wizard

The Wizard is what you will use if you get tired of holding the Controller or it starts getting heavy hanging on the lanyard around your neck. With the Wizard, you can set the Controller down, or give it to a friend to hold, and go walking around. If you put the drone in “Follow me” mode, it will follow you at whatever height you set it for. You can also use “Point to fly” mode and just point the Wizard somewhere and the Typhoon H will fly to that spot. There’s also a “Home” mode which helps the drone get back home if it gets lost. It has an Obstacle Avoidance mode so that it can automatically go around trees and such, and you can create a virtual fence so that, regardless of what you do, you can’t go beyond that fence. Useful for if you lose GPS out in the boondocks and your drone starts to “fly away.” Pictures and videos can be taken using just the Wizard. It truly is a wizard at doing what it does.

Typhoon H batteryThe battery provides about 25 minutes of flying time, takes 1½ hours to recharge, and costs $139.99 (less if you go to eBay). You get two with the drone. I bought two more, so I’ll be taking four batteries with me into the mountains. I’ll be able to recharge one battery using the in-car charger while driving, so it should be rare that I’ll run out of battery juice or flight time.

My only complaint with the Typhoon H at this point is that the videos in mp4 format are huge and crappy. The video in this blog post was 621 MB straight out of the drone and so crappy that I would be embarrassed to show it to anyone. So I took it to Wondershare Filmora, my video editing program, and simply saved it with a different name. Now it looks awesome and is only 81 MB. Can’t explain that one. Apparently the Chinese have a different mp4 format.

I have more on my mind with the Typhoon H than just playing with it, though. I want to get pictures of abandoned railroad tracks for my railroad research in areas that are somewhat inaccessible out in the East San Diego County mountains. My hiking days are behind me, especially if the hike involves going down into a rocky canyon and up the other side. The canyons are steep but are rarely more than a mile across, and if they are, there are roads to get me closer. With this drone, if I can get within a mile, I can get it the rest of the way.

Eventually I’ll get an FAA 107 commercial drone license so I can do real estate photography and figure out other ways to use this drone to make money.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Advertisements

Didn’t see a single fox. Sad.

Picture of the Moment

I go to the coastal tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument a couple of times each year, and now that I have a lifetime pass ($10 if you’re 62 or older; price is going up to $80 under Twitler), I will go even more often.

When I went on my birthday in March (the day I turned 62!), I saw a crossing sign that I had never seen before:

Fox crossing

Nope.

Didn’t see a single fox.

Maybe it was because of the fog bank covering the peninsula.

Oh, well.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

A post-modern triumph or a regrettable hodgepodge?

Opinion

My husband earns money each day by working at Warwick’s at the San Diego International Airport. Warwick’s is a bookstore. Occasionally he brings home free books for me to read. Recently he brought home a pre-published proof of the new Dean Koontz book, “The Silent Corner.”

Koontz and his wife live in “Southern California.” In other words, he doesn’t want us to know exactly where, but I suspect it might be closer to San Diego than Los Angeles since the book takes place in San Diego County—Alpine, San Diego, and La Jolla, so far (I’m on page 74).

On page 33, Koontz calls our new San Diego Central Library (opened in September 2013) “a post-modern triumph or a regrettable hodgepodge.” That’s the first time I have ever heard of the new library being called anything except “beautiful” and synonyms for “beautiful.” Thus, I have to presume that Koontz considers it a regrettable hodgepodge.

Here are some pictures of the regrettable hodgepodge:

San Diego Central Library stamp

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

San Diego Central Library, 2013

New San Diego Central Library on March 23, 2013

New San Diego Central Library on March 23, 2013

New San Diego Central Library on February 2, 2013

Price Reading Room at the San Diego Central Library

Lobby of the new San Diego Central Library

The Central Library building is 9 floors, but the sixth and seventh floors are accessible only to students, teachers, and others affiliated with E3 Civic High School, which according to sources is the only high school in the nation (probably the world) housed within a library. Imagine going to high school in a magnificent library. I want to live my life again….

The library cost $184.9 million, comprises 366,673 square feet, houses 2.6 million items, has a circulation of 7.2 million, and 6.6 million visitors each year. There is free WiFi at the Central Library and all 35 branch libraries; in fact, the San Diego Public Library was one of the first in the nation to provide free WiFi at all locations. It also houses the second largest collection of baseball memorabilia in the United States. The dome on top is claimed to be the fourth largest in America and the sixth largest in the world.

Here’s a picture of the old library which served from 1954 to 2013:

Old San Diego Central Library on August 13, 2012

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

How I Did It—Works for me

How I Did It

I pretty much try to abide by the rule of thirds when I take pictures. I think it creates more aesthetically pleasing photographs.

The rule of thirds might be the most well-known rule of photographic composition since it is one of the first things one learns in photography class.

Of course, rules are meant to be broken, but if you’re going to break a rule, make sure you know it very well so that breaking it is even more effective.

The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts:

Rule of thirds

The exact center rarely is a good place to put your focal point unless your intent is to show symmetry. Too high, too low, too far left, or too far right is kind of like dissonance in music; it just doesn’t feel right/sound right/look right. The grid, then, identifies four areas of the image—where the lines intersect—where you should consider placing points of interest in your picture.

Along with the four intersections, the rule of thirds also gives you four lines along which to place elements in your picture.

Rule of thirds lines

The theory behind the rule of thirds is that placing points of interest at the intersections or along the lines provides a more balanced picture with which the viewer can interact more naturally. Apparently, research shows that when looking at a picture, your eyes go naturally to one of the intersections much more naturally than to the center of the image.

I don’t know if the rule of thirds comes naturally to me or whether fifty years of photography has simply made it a habit. Maybe I’ll intentionally break the rule to see what happens.

If your picture looks or feels awkward, don’t hesitate to take it into a digital photo editing program like Photoshop and crop it to give it a better feel or look.

Following is a panorama of the Music Building at San Diego State University that illustrates the rule of thirds. This panorama was created by taking 8 separate pictures into Photoshop and then using the Photomerge function to stitch them together. Afterwards I cropped the panorama to get this:

Music Building at San Diego State University

My landscape-oriented pictures often use the top, middle, and bottom thirds, as I have done that picture. I really like this picture, first and foremost because it’s the Music Building and connects with my 60 years of music (violin, piano, and voice). Additionally, though, I really like the dominant but different colors in the thirds—blue in the upper third, white in the middle, and green in the lower. Notice, however, that the transitions are not too sharp or abrupt. The white clouds in the blue sky lead one’s eyes to the white building. The green trees against the white building then lead one’s eyes to the green grass in the lower third. In every sense, this picture works for me.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Out & About—I guess they are planning for a population boom

Out & About

The first time I went to the Mojave Desert was during the Summer of 1973 when I went with two friends (Jaime and Larry) on a tour of the United States west of the Mississippi River. Since we lived in South Texas, a desert in its own right, the Mojave didn’t really interest me, at least not near as much as San Francisco, Oakland (home of the Raiders and A’s), Los Angeles, and San Diego. The only reason we were going there was to visit Death Valley, which has the lowest point in the lower states and the highest recorded temperature of 134°F (July 10, 1913).

Now that I am a couple of years older, I have a greater appreciation for the deserts, finding them quite interesting. For some reason, though, they still are quite hot, so i don’t visit them often.

In early February, I was in the western reaches of the Mojave Desert tracking trains that have to get through the desert to points east. Here are a few pictures of what I found in the Mojave Desert:

California Aqueduct & Lake PalmdaleCalifornia Aqueduct & Lake Palmdale

Seems kind of odd to build an open-air aqueduct in one of the hottest places on Earth.

The desert seemed to be one huge dumping ground. Trash was everywhere, and I’m not talking about litter. I’m talking about huge items abandoned as trash. The beauty of the Mojave Desert was ruined in so many places.

Sofa bed dumped in the desert

Trash in the Mojave Desert

Trash in Mojave Desert

Winfield’s Custom Shop had the most interesting advertising sign.

Winfield's Custom Shop

When Winfield says “custom,” I think he means it. Check out this custom police car:

Custom police car

Wind farms were everywhere. Many people find them ugly but I find them strangely fascinating and beautiful.

Mojave Desert wind farm

Notice the snow-capped mountains in the picture above. This is the high desert, and although it gets extraordinarily hot and has little precipitation, the mountain peaks are high enough that they can get snow on them in the winter.

I saw Edwards Air Force Base where the Space Shuttle would land when bad weather prevented a Florida landing at Cape Canaveral. More snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Edwards Air Force Base

My little hometown of Kingsville TX had numbered streets all the way up to 17th Street, paved with concrete and asphalt, and houses lining both sides of the street. Out in the Mojave Desert, it’s a little different.

233rd Street East

233rd Street East

You might be inclined to think, “Well, obviously it’s a new street.” Doesn’t matter. Every street from 1st Street East to 233rd Street East looked exactly like that. I guess they are planning for a population boom. I don’t think it’s coming. I did not bother trying to find 233rd Street West.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Trains—San Diego Trolley extension work interrupts Amtrak & Coaster

Railroads & Trains logo

Yesterday was my day to go to the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego and see what was going on. Well, nothing. Literally, nothing. There is no Amtrak or Coaster train action between the Santa Fe Depot and Oceanside, a distance of about 39 miles.

Track-a-train was showing all Amtrak Pacific Surfliners arriving and leaving from the Oceanside Transit Center. I set out to find out why, and it didn’t take me long to find that the line currently is shut down, at least through March 14, to re-align tracks and do some at-grade work for the extension of the San Diego Trolley from Old Town to University City.

Finally.

However, the extension is being built with a lot of Federal Transit Administration funds.

Uh-oh.

California voted for Clinton. Twitler knows that, and Twitler is a very vengeful person. I will keep an eye on these federal transit funds because I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Twitler will do something to exact his revenge on California by withholding federal funds.

I got quite a few interesting pictures showing the work going on. I thought it was interesting that the Mid-Coast Transit Constructors simply pulled the southbound Amtrak tracks about ten feet to the west. Presuming, then, that the Trolley is going to go down the middle of the Amtrak tracks. Now that I know about this, I can go out weekly and document process. Just south of where I was the tracks will be aerial due to a river (known as a creek in other states) and the tracks through University City and the University of California-San Diego will be aerial tracks.

Picture 1 – Abrupt break in the southbound tracks.Break in the Amtrak tracks for re-alignment

Picture 2 – Amtrak’s not going to like the excessive bends in this curveExcessive bends in re-aligned Amtrak tracks

Picture 3 – Mounds of rock showing where the track used to be.Mounds of rock indicate where the tracks used to be

Picture 4 – Southbound track re-alignment not yet complete.Re-aligned track work not completed

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Picture of the Moment—Silent Saturday

Picture of the Moment

Occasionally I take a picture for which no words from me are necessary, such as this one. Even then, though, I would want to know when and where the picture was taken. If you do, too, it was taken on February 17, 2017, in Santa Monica CA at the Third Street Promenade.

Stop Twitler

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

This post approved by
This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat