Just a few of the things that crossed my desktop this morning:
And last night, Cubs pitcher Alec Mills threw the club's 16th no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers. In the history of Major League Baseball, there have only been 315 no-hitters. The last time the Cubs won a no-hitter was 51 years ago.
I've had an unusually busy (and productive!) day, so naturally, the evening reading has piled up:
Finally, National Geographic has a slideshow of the world's best ghost towns.
This photo popped up in my Facebook "Memories" feed this morning, so I spent five minutes correcting it. (You can see the original crop and color correction in my post from 14 August 2009.)
Man, that was a great hike. I miss the UK, I miss traveling, and I kind of miss these cows. I hope to see the first two next spring; the cows, I expect, mooed their last years ago.
I took the Mini out for a spin yesterday evening, and got a couple of cool shots:
I originally posted the top photo a couple of weeks ago, before I found the legal loophole allowing me to take my drone above 120 m AGL. (It turns out I can take it 120 m above the tallest structure within 120 m.) So early this morning, in calm winds, I took it up to 150 m, almost exactly matching the view. If only my drone had a slightly longer lens, I could duplicate it exactly. At least I got the parallax right, meaning I now know the original photo was taken only 150 m up. It would not be legal for a fixed-wing airplane to fly so low today; you'd need a helicopter and permission.
I also plan to re-shoot a bunch of these after the trees lose their leaves this fall.
I found this photo of the 800 West block of Montrose in April 1891 in a Chicago Public Library collection:
Here's the same place yesterday:
A few things have changed. In 1891, Montrose was paved for the half-block between Clarnedon and the Lake, and the apartment developer had built a proper curb from Dayton to Clarendon on the south side. I expect that the city paved the rest of Montrose shortly after this photo.
The park to the left became a hospital in 1957, which closed in 2009 and was demolished in 2016. The high-rise center frame marks the shoreline in the top photo. Lake Michigan is now over a kilometer farther west after the construction of Montrose Harbor in the 1930s.
I found this photo from 1964 at Chicago-L.org, looking north along what is now the Red Line from above Buena Park:
Here's almost the same view yesterday:
So, a few changes. Two the west, three city blocks of apartments became Truman College in 1974. Wilson Yards and the Wilson Avenue Shop (the El structure in the center) burned down in 1994, replaced now by a Target and an apartment building. And all the trees have grown up.
Another thing: I found out more about how high I can take the drone. Generally, it's limited to 120 m AGL. But I can also take it up 120 m above any "structure" as long as I'm within 120 m of the structure. The flagpole on top of the Byline Bank is 58 m above the ground, meaning I could, with a quick adjustment to the drone settings, try taking it up to 178 m... Hmm...
Update, 40 minutes later: Yep. It'll go up to 130 m no problem in calm winds:
Now that I have a drone, I've been looking for historical aerial photos of Chicago. I found this 1933 photo of Uptown through the Chicago Public Library collection:
Here's approximately the same view about an hour ago:
Some things immediately jump out. First, the trees. My how they've grown! Second, in the distance you can see the construction of Montrose Harbor in 1933 and the completed harbor (by 1937) in 2020. Third, we have a lot more parking lots and a lot less grime on our buildings these days. And what the hell is that huge industrial building billowing smoke at the corner of Montrose and Clarendon (upper-right corner of 1933)?
Since drones can only legally fly 120 m above the ground in the US, I couldn't get exactly the same angle as in the original photo. My best guess from a number of clues is that the top photo was taken from an airplane flying about 250 m (maybe not even that high) AGL shortly after 1pm on a sunny but hazy early-April afternoon. The air quality in Chicago in 2020 is so much better than at any point in the 20th century that almost no aerial photos from that era will have light as sharp and clear as we get today.
I have a couple more of these up my sleeve. Stay tuned.
The Mini has a service ceiling of 120 m AGL (above ground level) by default. I can jump through some hoops to increase that, but for now, while I'm getting to know how the aircraft handles, that seems just fine.
For example, here are two shots from 110 m half an hour after sunset:
The second one is a dry-run for a before-and-after pair I really can't wait to share. I just want to say, I hope I'm giving historians of the future some good data.
Why didn't I get one of these things years ago?
A combination of crystal-clear air, calm winds, and a setting sun gave me some great shots from the Mini this evening. I visited two locations in Lincoln Square: Welles Park, and the corner of Wilson and Ravenswood. I got this still just a few seconds after taking off:
And here's the highlight reel:
After dinner, I discovered on a third flight that it doesn't shoot great video in low-light conditions. Good to know.
Update: Here's the raw video from my altitude test this morning: