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Entries in Exposition Park (11)


Is This Room Stretching?

This is the Los Angeles Natural History Museum's Rotunda built in 1913. The statue in the center, "The Three Muses" was the museum's first exhibit. For those who are wondering, this was taken hand held, and consists of 3 vertically stitched shots, each being a HDR image derived from 3 additional exposures. This location has been used in films and TV shows quite a bit.

Hammers of Hell

On April 30, 1962 at the then super-secret Area 51 facility at Groom Lake, Nevada, those who witnessed the first flight of the new A-12 spy plane were awe-struck by the raw power it displayed. It was so loud that somebody named it "The Hammers of Hell" on the spot.  Built by Lockheed for the CIA, its mission was to spy on the Soviet Union and its client states. Construction plans called for it to be largely built from a rare material called titanium. This was the only metal known that could withstand the super heating the air frame would experience at 3 times the speed of sound and altitudes above 80,000 feet. Using a series of fake companies and import firms, Lockheed was able to obtain the Titanium from non-other than the Soviet Union itself. So they helped the United States build a spy plane that they were never able to shoot down. It just flew too high and too fast. At altitude A-12 pilots reported that the sky turned black, the stars came out and they could see the curvature of the earth. They often out ran missiles shot at them. None were ever lost to enemy fire.

The Three Muses

This lovely statue stands directly in the center of the rotunda in the Los Angeles Natural History Museum's original building which opened in 1913. The rotunda has been featured in many movies over the years including Spiderman and Born Yesterday.

Temporary Parking

The Space Shuttle Endeavour in repose while awaiting the funding and construction of it's new exhibit space at the California Science Center at Exposition Park in Los Angeles.

Way to Go Big E!

This was such a great day! Kathy, my Mom and I all traveled to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour on display at the California Science Center. This building is a temporary structure which will be used until the new museum extension and Shuttle display area are built. While Endeavour will eventually be displayed in a launch configuration, complete with the huge orange external fuel tank and white solid rocket boosters, today you can walk underneath her. This allows very close inspection of the orbiter’s thermal tiles which clearly show the rigors of both launch and re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. If you are in the Los Angeles area I highly recommend going to see this amazing example of American ingenuity and innovation.



A Dinosaur Hall at Last!

When I was young my mom would frequently load my sister and I into the family station wagon and drive us over to the Museums at Exposition Park in Los Angeles. In the late 1960's the County of Los Angeles Natural History Museum's newsletter "La Terre" announced grand plans for a huge new dinosaur exhibit hall. Work obtaining the new fossils had already begun and the development and construction of the exhibits would begin shortly. Based on the description, it would contain many examples of the facinating creatures I read so much about as a seven year old kid. Well, several years passed and the doors to the new dinosaur hall remained locked and and the interior dark.

During one visit with my family, I had my eye pressed up against the gap between the doors to the hall and I could see a sliver of wonderful things. Partial skeletons under plastic sheets. A guard caught me peeking and asked if we wanted to take a quick look inside. I nearly fainted (science nerd). He unlocked and opened the door partially and we stuck our heads inside, peering into the dark reaches of the only partially lighted exhibit hall. As thrilling as that was, it looked like there was still a lot of work was left to be done. 

In the 1990's the museum finally opened a small exhibit hall but I could tell this wasn't what they had originally envisioned and discribed. I kept waiting and had really given up all hope, assuming I'd be a fossil and ready for display myself by the time anything happened. So lets just say I was very surprised last year to hear that the museum finally opened that hall in time for my 50th birthday and what can I say? It was well worth the 43 year wait!  

The new exhibit is located in the original museum building which opened in 1913. It's located in one of two exhibit halls connected by a beautiful rotunda. Each hall has two floors which allows for a variety of viewpoints of these amazing dinosaurs. When I was 10 years old this hall was full of ice age fossils excavated from the La Brea tar pits. This was many years before the George C. Page Museum of La Brea Discoveries was built and opened at the site of the tar pits on Wilshire Blvd. If we visited on uncrowded day, the hall seemed kind of of stark, a little creepy, mostly quiet with just the echos of our foot steps to accompany us.

The new hall is bright and colorful and it was crowded and noisy on this day. I climbed to the second floor to get a different perspective. The main subject of this photo and the hall are three Tyrannosaurus Rex fossils, including a baby T-Rex which was estimated to be about two years old when it died. This is the youngest known T-Rex fossil in the world.

The lighting in the hall was just beautiful. I don't know if it was just the time of day but the contrast of the bright sunlight and dark shadows were very interesting.

I'm definitely visiting again.

I guess I should mention this is an HDR vertorama taken with my fisheye lens. Four HDR sequences each containing 3 shots.


The Talon and the Tigershark

On Memorial Day I'll pause to say thank you to the men and women who have served and are serving our country in a dangerous world, protecting our freedoms and keeping us safe. I also want to say thank you to their families who sacrifice so much for us.

These two Northrop aircraft at first glance look quite similar but only the white T-38 Talon saw service as a training aircraft and MiG simulator for our Aggressor squadrons based at Nellis AFB near Las Vegas, NV. The gray F-20 Tigershark was an aircraft without a home. Designed by Northrop at the "suggestion" of the US government, once complete it found no customers. Only three were ever built and this is the only surviving example.


inside hangs a babylon, flowerfalls of love alive...

California Science Center's amazing atrium soars over my beloved wife who sits patiently waiting for me.


A-12 Spyplane Panorama

A-12 Spyplane Panorama, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

I couldn't stop taking pictures of this aircraft. I don't know if it's the shape and size that attracts me or if it's because I have read so much about it and appreciate it for the amazing thing that it is.

The prototype first flew in April of 1962 yet it still holds several world records for speed and altitude. Everything about this aircraft was revolutionary. Flying at more than 2,000 mph and at altitudes as high as 90,000 ft, its pilots could see the curvature of the earth and out-run missiles launched at it. It's cameras had incredible resolution.

Built almost entirely of titanium to endure the heat of friction generated at Mach 3+ speeds, parts of the aircrafts skin would reach 1,200 degrees. It's twin engines spat out white-hot 3,400 degree exhaust plumes into the super cold air 17 miles above the earth's surface. This unprecedented propulsive power sped the Blackbird at an unbelievable two-thirds of a mile a second.

This was the first stealthy aircraft ever built. It's radar cross section was 100 times smaller than the US Navy's F-14 Tomcat fighter built a decade later.


A-12 Trainer

A-12 Trainer, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

This is the only 2 seat version of the A-12 spy plane ever built. Operated by the CIA, this aircraft was the predecessor to the SR-71 Blackbird. Only one of 2 Blackbirds not actually painted black. This aircraft is bare metal with the exception of the nose and twin tails. Cloaked in absolute secrecy for most of it's operational life, it's good that the public can see this amazing aircraft now.