May 112017

Selecting images from the recent trip and stitching together panoramas is an ongoing effort, and will be for a while yet. The panoramas range from the “artistic: that looks great” to the “useful for references: that looks kinda odd.” Many of them have missing sections, but so long as the panorama captured the aircraft I was after, having a corner missing is ok.

The combination of a telephoto lens with a 24 megapixel sensor has led to some *monstrous* panoramas. For example:

This “partial” panorama of the X-15 is 40,700 pixels wide. At 300 dpi (pretty much the standard for photo printing), that’s 135 inches wide. That’s 11.3 *feet* (or 3.45 meters) wide.

Another partial, this time of the XB-70. At 300 dpi, this one would be 14.75 feet long. If you look just behind the cockpit side window you can just make out some markings.

Well… this is a crop of the full-rez panorama showing just those markings:

Balcony panorama at the SAC Museum in Nebraska:


Balcony overview panorama of the Cold War gallery at the USAF Museum:

XB-70, X-15, lifting bodies, Gemini B:

Balcony overview panorama of Building 4 at the USAF museum:

The “Valkyrie cafe” at the USAF museum has a large mural painting of the XB-70. It’s several dozen feet wide and impossible to photograph straight-on (not only is there stuff in the way, it’s too huge for the space available). But there is one spot where you can get the whole thing. So, a number of photos were stitched together then “warped” to get it back into rectangular format. And the end result is pretty spiffy, and at 300 dpi it’d print out at 53 inches long. Needs some color correction.

These images have of course been scaled waaaaaay down to fit on the blog. Those who signed up for the DVD will of course get the full rez versions (though some compromises may be needed… that ginormous XB-70 panorama is over 800 megabytes).

 Posted by at 12:06 pm
  • Scott, I’m planning to drive up to the USAF Museum for a couple days this summer, and I’m curious what time of the week you went and how busy was it? There aren’t a lot of people in your photos. Also, what are lighting conditions like? And what lens did you use?

    • Scottlowther

      A few notes:
      I was there during mid week. I imagine weekends are pretty busy.
      I was there first thing and ran my ass to building four, beating the crowd.
      Lighting conditions are, for the purposes of photography, terrible. Bright white aircraft in black-walled hangars, with incandescent lights here, fluorescent lights there… It gave both me and my camera fits.

      A good thing: the dim lighting meant that exposures of several seconds were occasionally called for. Put camera on tripod, turn iso all the way down, crank f stop way up, and tinker with exposure time until its several seconds. This not only produces good exposures, it erases humans on the move. In several shots that look empty there are actually several groups of people. But since they’re moving, they’re rendered invisible.

      • Thanks for the reply. I’ll use that exposure trick. Also meant to ask, is there a limit on admissions to the R&D gallery?

        • Scottlowther

          Show up when they open, stay till they close. The former r&d and presidential galleries that you used to take a bus to are now building four, a regular part of the museum.

  • CaptainNed

    From you pic at the SAC Museum: I’ve always had a thing for the 101 Can’t tell you why other than it just “looks right”.

  • philo_t

    “capults” ?!1!

    I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but you might just have ruined the XB-70 for me.

    A quick check in a few online dictionaries, and I can’t find that word. Is this actually a proper technical term or is it an actual mispelling ? Someone please put my OCD at ease!

    • Scottlowther

      I’ve asked a few XB-70 experts about the “capults.” Will report what I find out.

  • Randino

    All good stuff. Admin question though: do you suppose the spell-check failed on the *original* XB-70 placarding (the ejection capsule markings) at Palmdale or on the refurb after it arrived in Dayton? There’s plenty of room on that line for “CATAPULTS”…

    • Scottlowther

      Two updates:
      1: I was sent an in-flight photo showing the right-hand side of the AV-1 cockpit. The same stencilling is there and *just* barely legible. But while the stencilling is the same, it ain’t. For starters, it’s clearly spelled “catapults.”

      2: I didn’t get the same quality of coverage of the right hand side of the display as I did the left, due to limited viewing angles. However, I did get a few shots that show that the same mis-spelling on the left exists on the right. Presumably a single incorrect sheet was used for both side during the last repainting. Whoopsie.

  • vilhelm_s

    Looks very cool, it would be nice to have a 14 feet long print on my wall. 😀

    Also interesting to see photos of the new museum hall. The space around the Valkyrie looks a lot less cramped now than it was in the old R&D building exhibit?

    • Scottlowther

      Less cramped, but also less accessible. You can’t get under the XB-70 anymore.