Friday, August 24, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thunderbird crash

September 14, 2003 - a Thunderbird F-16C crashed just after takeoff during an air show performance in Idaho. The pilot managed to eject 0.8 seconds before impact and walked away with only minor injuries.
As one might expect at an air show, there were many cameras trained on Thunderbird #6 when the accident occurred. Even so, this photo showing the $21 million jet just before impact is quite remarkable.
Even more remarkable is this video clip from an onboard camera showing the split-S maneuver and subsequent ejection from inside the cockpit. It’s a 4.1 megabyte mpeg, but if you can swing the bandwidth I highly recommend watching it.
As a side note, the accident investigation report was issued this week. It concluded that the accident was caused by pilot error. The pilot misinterpreted the altitude required to complete the “Split S” maneuver. He made his calculation based on an incorrect mean-sea-level (MSL) altitude of the airfield. The pilot incorrectly climbed to 1,670 feet above ground level (AGL) instead of 2,500 feet before initiating the pull down to the Split S maneuver.
It was a simple mistake. Unfortunately the stakes are very high when you’re performing low-level aerobatics.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Your nail

high magnification

The skin

high magnification

Salt and pepper

Grain of salt pepper corn

Early morning song


G. Beetge

Saturday, August 18, 2007

7 December 1941

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii on the morning of Sunday, 7 December 1941, which brought the U.S. into World War II. Aircraft from the Imperial Japanese Navy destroyed five U.S. Navy battleships, along with 188 aircraft, one minelayer, and three destroyers and inflicting over 4,000 casualties. The Japanese losses were minimal at 29 aircraft and five midget submarines with 65 Japanese servicemen killed or wounded.

The intent of the pre-emptive strike was to protect Imperial Japan's advance into Malaya and the Dutch East Indies — for their natural resources such as oil and rubber — by neutralizing the U.S. Pacific Fleet (in the fashion of War Plan Orange as practiced by both sides).The Japanese high command was (mistakenly) certain any attack on the United Kingdom's colonies would inevitably thrust the U.S. into the war. By contrast, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had moved the fleet to Hawaii, and ordered a buildup in the Philippines, to deter Japanese aggression against China, or European colonies in Asia.
The attack was one of the most important engagements of World War II. Occurring before a formal declaration of war, it spurred the U.S. into World War Two against Japan and then Germany which declared war on the U.S. a few days later, creating a conflict that encircled the world. Roosevelt called December 7, 1941 "a date which will live in infamy".

Last flight

On the night of May 3, 1937, the Hindenburg left Frankfurt, Germany for Lakehurst, New Jersey. This was the first trip of the year to Lakehurst, but the ship did fly to Rio de Janeiro earlier that year.

The crossing was uneventful, except for strong headwinds. The ship was half full, with 36 passengers and 61 crew members (21 more than usual), but the return flight was fully booked by people attending the coronation of King George VI of the United Kingdom, which would take place on May 12, at Westminster Abbey, London.

The reason why the ship was only half full was probably because of concerns of a bomb on board. A letter was sent to the German Ambassador claiming the ship would be destroyed by a bomb after flying over New York City.

On May 6, the ship arrived in America. The ship was already late, and the landing was further delayed because of bad weather. Captain Max Pruss took passengers on a tour through New York City, and the seasides of Boston and New Jersey.

Finally, around 7:00 p.m. local time, altitude 650 feet, the Hindenburg approached the Lakehurst Naval Air Station. This landing was different, known as a high landing or flying moor, because the ship was winched down from a higher altitude. This type of landing maneuver would save the number of ground crew, but would require more time. At 7:08 the ship made a sharp full-speed left turn to the west around the landing field because the ground crew were not ready yet. At 7:11 the ship turned back toward the landing field and valved gas. All engines idled ahead and the ship began to slow. At 7:14, and altitude 394 feet, Captain Pruss ordered aft engines full astern to try to brake the ship. At 7:17, the wind shifted direction to southwest, and Captain Pruss was forced to make a second sharp turn, this time towards starboard. At 7:19, as the ship made the second sharp turn, 300, 300, and 500 kg of water ballast was dropped because the ship was stern heavy. Six men (three were killed in the accident were also sent to the bow to trim the ship. None of these attempts to correct the problem worked and the ship seemed to sink even more, but Pruss was now permitted to land. At 7:21, altitude 295 feet, the mooring lines were dropped from the bow. At this point, the cameramen were filming the lines being caught by the ground crew or stopped rolling altogether, and missed what was about to happen.

At 7:25, witnesses on the port side started reporting a small burst of flame near the vent in front of the upper fin. Commander Rosendahl's feeling at once was that the ship was doomed. One witness on the starboard side reported a fire beginning lower and behind the rudder on that side (however this may have happened after the initial fire on the port side).


The Hindenburg, moments after catching fire.At 7:25 p.m. local time, the Hindenburg caught fire and quickly became engulfed in flames. Where the fire started is controversial; witnesses on the port side saw yellow/red flames first just forward of the top fin, around cell 4. One, with views of the starboard side, saw flames beginning lower and farther aft, near cell 1. A crew member on board also recalled the flames spreading from cell 4 into starboard. Wherever it started, the flames quickly spread forward. Almost instantly, a water tank and a fuel tank burst out of the hull, as seen in the picture on the right. At the same time a crack appears behind the passenger decks. The ship's back broke, and the section from the nose to the aft engine cars lurched upwards, while the stern stayed in trim. As the Hindenburg's tail crashed into the ground, a burst of flame came out of the nose, killing three of the six crew members in the bow. As the ship kept falling with the bow facing upwards (because there was more lifting gas still in the nose), part of the port side directly behind the passenger deck collapsed inward (where the "dent" was), and the gas cell there exploded, erasing the scarlet lettering "Hindenburg" while the ship's bow lowered. One careful analysis of the flame spread, by Addison Bain of NASA, gives the flame front spread rate across the fabric skin as about 49 ft/s. The ship's gondola wheel touched the ground, causing the ship to bounce up once more. At this point, most of the fabric had burned away. At last, the ship went crashing on the ground, bow first.

The time it took for the ship to be completely destroyed has been disputed. Some believe it took 34 seconds, though others say it took 32 or 37 seconds.
The incident is widely remembered as one of the most dramatic accidents of modern time. The cause of the accident has never been determined, although many theories, some highly controversial, have been proposed.


Sharbat Gula (born ca. 1972) is an Afghan woman of Pashtun ethnicity. Forced to flee Afghanistan to a Pakistan refugee camp she was photographed by journalist, Steve McCurry. The image made her famous when it was featured on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic Magazine. Gula was known throughout the world simply as the Afghan Girl until she was formally identified in 2002.

Gula was orphaned during the Soviet Union's bombing of Afghanistan and sent to the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan in 1984. Her village was attacked by Soviet helicopter gunships sometime in the early 1980s. The Soviet strike killed her parents forcing her, her siblings and grandmother to hike over the mountains to the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan. She married Rahmat Gul in the late 1980s and returned to Afghanistan in 1992. Gula had three daughters: Robina, Zahida, and Alia. A fourth daughter died in infancy. Gula has expressed the hope that her girls will receive the education she was never able to complete.

1984 photograph

At the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in 1984, Gula's picture was taken by National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry. Gula was one of the students in an informal school within the refugee camp; McCurry, rarely given the opportunity to photograph Afghan women, seized the opportunity and captured her image. She was approximately 12 years old at the time.

Although her name was not known, her picture, titled "Afghan Girl", appeared on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic. The image of her face, with a red scarf draped loosely over her head and with her piercing sea-green eyes staring directly into the camera, became a symbol both of the 1980s Afghan conflict and of the refugee situation worldwide. The image itself was named as "the most recognized photograph" in the history of the magazine.

Search for the Afghan Girl
The identity of the Afghan Girl remained unknown for over 15 years; Afghanistan remained largely closed to Western media until after the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001. Although McCurry made several attempts during the 1990s to locate her, he was unsuccessful.

In January 2002, a National Geographic team travelled to Afghanistan to locate the subject of the now-famous photograph. McCurry, upon learning that the Nasir Bagh refugee camp was soon to close, inquired of its remaining residents, one of whom knew Gula's brother and was able to send word to her hometown. However, there were a number of women who came forward and identified themselves erroneously as the famous Afghan Girl. In addition, after being shown the 1984 photo, a handful of young men questioned falsely claimed Gula as their wife.

1984 vs. 2002

am finally located Gula, then around the age of 30, in a remote region of Afghanistan; she had returned to her native country from the refugee camp in 1992. Her identity was confirmed using biometric technology which matched her iris patterns to those of the photograph with virtual certainty. She vividly recalled being photographed – it was the first and only time she had ever had her picture taken. The fame and symbolic character of her portrait were completely unknown to her.

Modern pictures of her were featured as part of a cover story on her life in the April 2002 issue of National Geographic and was the subject of a television documentary, entitled Search for the Afghan Girl, which aired in March 2002. In recognition of her, National Geographic set up the Afghan Girls Fund, a charitable organization with the goal of educating Afghan women.

Photo credit: Mike McCurry


Credit: Ilia Shalamaev

Friday, August 17, 2007


Photography is a system of visual editing. At bottom, it is a matter of surrounding with a frame a portion of one's cone of vision, while standing in the right place at the right time. Like chess, or writing, it is a matter of choosing from among given possibilities, but in the case of photography the number of possibilities is not finite but infinite.



Photo: G. Beetge
Canon EOS 350D

The way you see

To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.

Hold still

"Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”

Avoid a sneezer

Dead queen


A bugs' life

Photo:G. Beetge
Canon EOS 350D

Collapsing waterdrop


Old favourite


Thursday, August 16, 2007



Wish I could take this picture

Taken by an astronaut on board the International Space Station during the current visit of the orbiter Endeavour on mission STS118.

Credit: NASA

Taking better pictures: composition

Good composition is essential in photography. It allows you to convey messages and emotions through the images that you shoot. Fortunately, good photo composition is easy to achieve by following a few simple guidelines.
Rule of thirds
First, learn the "rule of thirds." As you look through your camera's viewfinder, imagine there are lines dividing the image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, essentially dividing your image into nine equal-shaped blocks. Frame your subject at one of the intersection points instead of in the center of the viewfinder, as shown in the following illustration.

Now, with this said, many photographers make a very good living breaking this rule, but your photography will become much more interesting and visually stimulating if you use the rule of thirds when framing your subjects.
Careful framing of your subject can make a dramatic difference in your photos. Remember—every photo has a foreground and background, so use them together to add an interesting element to the shot.
Use foreground elements to frame your photo's subject. Architectural elements work well (windows, doorways, arches, and so on), but you can find any number of interesting elements to use for framing your photos. The important point here is the subject. It doesn't do much good to frame your subject with interesting elements if they overshadow the subject, making it difficult to determine what the subject is supposed to be.

Visual cropping
Crop your photos visually before you take them. Look into the corners of the viewfinder. Do you see things that shouldn't be there? You can remove, or crop, these elements from your photos simply by moving closer to your subject, zooming in on your subject, or moving your subject within the viewfinder. Try different angles. Look for anything that will diminish the impact of unwanted objects in your photos.

Angle of the view
Believe it or not, the best angle for a photo is not always upright and directly in front of the subject. Some of the most interesting photographs are those taken from a unique vantage point. Get down to the level of the flowers before taking the picture. Climb a tree to take a picture of a meadow. Always ask yourself if the photo would look better taken as a landscape or portrait shot. Experiment and try different perspectives. Look for angles that are interesting and demonstrate the mood and inspiration you're trying to capture.

Achieving good balance in your photographs requires the correct combination of colors, shapes, and areas of light and dark that complement one another. Achieving the right balance in your photos is easier than it appears. Think about your subject and capture it from an angle, viewpoint, or even time of day that focuses attention on the subject.

To capture the essence of what you experience when viewing a scene, it helps to add an element to your photo to convey this perspective. In the following picture, the bow of the boat helps to add an interesting perspective to the vastness of the scene. .

Without the bow of the boat in the picture, the scene would be far less interesting and void of any drama.

Draw the viewer's eyes through the photo
A path, a row of telephone poles, or even a line of chairs at the beach can serve as elements in a good photo.

Credit:Kleber Stephenson

Faster than the eye

Spot the spider

Photo: G. Beetge
Canon EOS 350D
18-55mm EF-S lens

A picture with a story

Taken along a road I used to travel to visit family. Each time the message changed and became longer. Apparently the husband and wife divorced and this was his final message of goodbuy.......

10 Tips

Do you wish you were a better photographer? All it takes is a little know-how and experience. Keep reading for some important picture-taking tips. Then grab your camera and start shooting your way to great pictures.

1. Look your subject in the eye
2. Use a plain background
3. Use flash outdoors
4. Move in close
5. Move it from the middle
6. Lock the focus
7. Know your flash's range
8. Watch the light
9. Take some vertical pictures
10. Be a picture director

1. Look your subject in the eye
Direct eye contact can be as engaging in a picture as it is in real life. When taking a picture of someone, hold the camera at the person's eye level to unleash the power of those magnetic gazes and mesmerizing smiles. For children, that means stooping to their level. And your subject need not always stare at the camera. All by itself that eye level angle will create a personal and inviting feeling that pulls you into the picture.

2. Use a plain background
A plain background shows off the subject you are photographing. When you look through the camera viewfinder, force yourself to study the area surrounding your subject. Make sure no poles grow from the head of your favorite niece and that no cars seem to dangle from her ears.

3. Use flash outdoors
Bright sun can create unattractive deep facial shadows. Eliminate the shadows by using your flash to lighten the face. When taking people pictures on sunny days, turn your flash on. You may have a choice of fill-flash mode or full-flash mode. If the person is within five feet, use the fill-flash mode; beyond five feet, the full-power mode may be required. With a digital camera, use the picture display panel to review the results.
On cloudy days, use the camera's fill-flash mode if it has one. The flash will brighten up people's faces and make them stand out. Also take a picture without the flash, because the soft light of overcast days sometimes gives quite pleasing results by itself.

4. Move in close
If your subject is smaller than a car, take a step or two closer before taking the picture and zoom in on your subject. Your goal is to fill the picture area with the subject you are photographing. Up close you can reveal telling details, like a sprinkle of freckles or an arched eyebrow. But don't get too close or your pictures will be blurry. The closest focusing distance for most cameras is about three feet, or about one step away from your camera. If you get closer than the closest focusing distance of your camera (see your manual to be sure), your pictures will be blurry.

5. Move it from the middle
Center-stage is a great place for a performer to be. However, the middle of your picture is not the best place for your subject. Bring your picture to life by simply moving your subject away from the middle of your picture. Start by playing tick-tack-toe with subject position. Imagine a tick-tack-toe grid in your viewfinder. Now place your important subject at one of the intersections of lines.
You'll need to lock the focus if you have an auto-focus camera because most of them focus on whatever is in the center of the viewfinder.

6. Lock the focus
If your subject is not in the center of the picture, you need to lock the focus to create a sharp picture. Most auto-focus cameras focus on whatever is in the center of the picture. But to improve pictures, you will often want to move the subject away from the center of the picture. If you don't want a blurred picture, you'll need to first lock the focus with the subject in the middle and then recompose the picture so the subject is away from the middle.
Usually you can lock the focus in three steps. First, center the subject and press and hold the shutter button halfway down. Second, reposition your camera (while still holding the shutter button) so the subject is away from the center. And third, finish by pressing the shutter button all the way down to take the picture.

7. Know your flash's range
The number one flash mistake is taking pictures beyond the flash's range. Why is this a mistake? Because pictures taken beyond the maximum flash range will be too dark. For many cameras, the maximum flash range is less than fifteen feet—about five steps away.
What is your camera's flash range? Look it up in your camera manual. Can't find it? Then don't take a chance. Position yourself so subjects are no farther than ten feet away. Film users can extend the flash range by using Kodak Max versatility or versatility plus film.

8. Watch the light
Next to the subject, the most important part of every picture is the light. It affects the appearance of everything you photograph. On a great-grandmother, bright sunlight from the side can enhance wrinkles. But the soft light of a cloudy day can subdue those same wrinkles.
Don't like the light on your subject? Then move yourself or your subject. For landscapes, try to take pictures early or late in the day when the light is orangish and rakes across the land.

9. Take some vertical pictures
Is your camera vertically challenged? It is if you never turn it sideways to take a vertical picture. All sorts of things look better in a vertical picture. From a lighthouse near a cliff to the Eiffel Tower to your four-year-old niece jumping in a puddle. So next time out, make a conscious effort to turn your camera sideways and take some vertical pictures.

10. Be a picture director
Take control of your picture-taking and watch your pictures dramatically improve. Become a picture director, not just a passive picture-taker. A picture director takes charge. A picture director picks the location: "Everybody go outside to the backyard." A picture director adds props: "Girls, put on your pink sunglasses." A picture director arranges people: "Now move in close, and lean toward the camera."
Most pictures won't be that involved, but you get the idea: Take charge of your pictures and win your own best picture awards.

Days gone by

Photo: G.Beetge

Lonely bug

Photo: G Beetge
Canon EOS 350D
18-55mm EF-S lens

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.

A reflection

Photo: G Beetge
Samsung Digimax 4500

The bee

Photo: G. Beetge


It is the denial of death that is partially responsible for living empty, purposeless lives; for when you live as if you’ll live forever, it becomes to easy to postpone the things you know you must do. – Elizabeth K├╝bler-Ross

A winters morning

Photo: G. Beetge