Archive for March, 2011

Clipsal 500 – F/A-18 Hornet Air Display

Each year a series of small air displays form part of the off-track activities at the Clipsal 500, V8 Supercar race in Adelaide. This year the performances by ‘The Roulettes’, an elite formation acrobatic team from the Royal Australia Air Force (RAAF), were cancelled due the majority of the PC-9 fleet being grounded after an engine fire incident earlier in Februrary.

This left the performances up to a lone McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, undertaken by an Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) F/A-18B (B model being a two seater variant), flying out of RAAF base Edinburgh.

McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet (F/A-18B)

The weather was absolutely terrible on Sunday, but I was determined to test out my new camera, a Canon 7D, on the Hornet returning to Edinburgh after it’s performances. I arrived at a vantage point on public land, which proved a popular spot amongst like minded aviation enthusiasts. With my RF Scanner tuned to the local Air Traffic Control (ATC) channel I had the advantage of remaining in the car out of the rain until I heard the Hornet radio ahead it’s imminent approach.

McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet (F/A-18B)

Attached to the camera was a Canon EF 400mm f5.6L lens and the camera was setup in Shutter Priority (Tv) mode such that I could specify a desired shutter speed of 1/1250 to adequately capture the fast moving aircraft. I haven’t had much opportunity to experiment with the 7D’s autofocus system yet, especially on fast moving subjects so I went for a conservative center grouped Zone AF setting, in AI Servo mode which I found to work really well overall even in the poor weather and light conditions.


Gallery is now live

Qantas Airbus A380

The Gallery is now live, containing a small initial batch of images. Additional images will be uploaded progressively over the next couple of weeks.

For those interested in the technical aspects of the gallery and its customisation, I’ll provide some additional details.
The gallery being used is Alex Rabe’s NextGEN Gallery WordPress plugin which has been heavily customised to suit my requirements.

A quick run down of the major customisations:

  • Descriptive Permalinks: Permalinks are constructed using the gallery and album names rather than the standard "ablum-<id>/gallery-<id>" nomenclature, providing more descriptive URLs as the album/gallery names by nature are descriptive. No modifications to the database schema were required for the implementation.
  • Breadcrumbs: All gallery pages contain a breadcrumb trail generated to provide quick links back to the current gallery, album or the root of the gallery.
  • View Counts: Album, Gallery and Image page views are counted and stored within the database. Counts are visible to administrators only and page views by administrators do not count towards the page view counts (required database schema update).
  • Descriptive Page Title Generation: All gallery pages are generated with descriptive page titles utilising the gallery and album names, also where applicable (imagebrowser) the title also contains the image headline/caption in the standard hierarchical design.
  • Singlepic Links to Imagebrowser: With all effects disabled, links generated via the use of the "[ singlepic ]" tag link to the corresponding imagebrowser URL of the target image. An example of this functionality is demonstrated in the Qantas A380 image displayed in this post, click on the image to browse to the full-sized imagebrowser URL displaying the image along with its associated metadata.
  • Imagebrowser: The imagebrowser view has been mostly rewritten, relocating the navigation controls and image counter. Also increased the use of image metadata to provide image headline/caption, description and location information. A subset of the important EXIF information is displayed on a single line, whilst the full EXIF metadata is hidden until the user clicks a “show full metadata” link which expands to reveal a table containing the full metadata. Image keywords are displayed in preparation for making the individual keywords links to search the entire gallery for image containing the specific keyword.
  • Imagebrowser Navigation: Originally navigation within a gallery from the imagebrowser via the previous and next links was circular (pressing previous on the first image links to the last image in the gallery and vice versa), this was disabled in favour of linear navigation where previous and next links are suppressed when the limits of the current gallery are reached.
  • IPTC Headline/Caption vs Title: Typically the IPTC 'Title' property is used as an image reference, for example source filename or historically a filing reference and is not synonymous with the IPTC 'Headline' property (sometimes referred to as 'Caption'). The 'Headline' property provides a brief description of the image, which is far more useful in the context of gallery page generation. Hence the use of the 'Title' property was replaced with 'Headline' to match my metadata workflow and provide more descriptive labels during page generation.
  • Minor SEO Improvements: Generation of img tags utilise ALT and TITLE attributes containing the image’s caption to assist search engines and associated crawlers.

All customisations were performed via modifications to the plugin PHP source, creation of NextGEN Gallery templates and style sheet, whilst modifications to the database schema where avoided unless completely necessary to assist compatibility with future plugin updates.

I have a number of other customisations and general improvements currently in the works, such as gallery search functionality and linking imagebrowser keywords to keyword searches, coming soon.


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