I did a little positioning to try and get a shot from directly under an airliner as it was making its approach to SeaTac. I was out near Boeing Field so they were still reasonably high. I managed to get myself right in alignment with the jet which, in this case, was an Alaska Airliners A320. When I first saw the shot, I have to admit I thought it was an Embraer E175 but then I read the lettering under the nose and realized it was bigger than I thought. I like the idea of a very different view of a familiar subject.
When putting together some images for a group online that I am involved with, a dug out a couple of shots of jets departing O’Hare I shot years back. When coming off 22L, some of the jets make an early turn to the south and you can get a view of them that is either quite level with the wing line or slightly above. When shooting them, they are climbing so it is obvious what you were shooting. However, as I looked at these shots, it occurred to me that they looked a lot like an air to air position except the angles were wrong because of the climb. Since I had shot quite tightly, re-cropping the shot required some Photoshop work.
Taking the image out of Lightroom and in to Photoshop, I selected the crop tool and rotated the image to be the sort of angle that an air to air shot might be. Doing this crops off the nose and tail of the jet. However, one feature of the crop tool in Photoshop is that, if you then drag the edges of the tool back out, you can expand the canvas size. You now have the whole plane in shot but have added some white space in each corner where no image previously existed.
It is a simple task to then use Content Aware Fill to add sky back in to these areas. The result is a shot that looks almost as if you had been flying in formation at altitude. Would you have spotted it? Having done it with an A320, I then had a go with a 757. The light angle makes it look a bit like we are flying along towards a setting sun. I was rather pleased with the trick.
I once got to shoot the United retro colors on the A320 while I was at SFO up the tower but I had not got a decent shot of it actually flying. When it showed up on approach to SFO, I was pretty pleased. Sadly, the cloud cover was not cooperating terribly well. Only when it had got past me did it pop into better conditions. It was okay when further out on final but neither of these were too helpful. One day!
When you get lots of similar jets arriving, you can mess around a bit. The 500mm was far too long for the touchdown shots for most aircraft but, when you are getting a bunch of Air Canada A320s, no harm in cropping in really tight on some of them. The CFM-56 reversers are a bucket type so they splay out from the nacelle. With the evening light, you can see lots of detail in the structure. I played with a similar effect on some of the other jets too.
My effort to shoot an arriving A350 at SeaTac provided a secondary benefit. The majority of arriving aircraft land on the outer runway. This is further away and also has a threshold further up the field. This means the aircraft are higher up on the approach. On a clear winter’s day, the planes have the backdrop of the snow covered Olympic mountain range. They were a bit far away but did provide a rather scenic view.
I had a long layover at Salt Lake City when connecting on a Delta flight. The sun was out and the mountains in the background were covered in snow so it made for a rather pretty backdrop for the airport operations. It was a bit Delta-centric given that they hub at the airport and we were in one of their terminals but it did make for some nice light and scenery for aviation shots.
With Alaska Airlines taking over Virgin America, there is a lot of repainting to be done of the fleet. I have seen a few of the newer A321neos around in Alaska colors (mostly special schemes) but I hadn’t had any luck with the A320s in the traditional Alaska scheme. A visit to SFO was bound to change that given that this was the base for Virgin America. Sure enough I got to shoot a few of the jets in their new livery. I have to say, I think it looks quite good on the A320. Of course, there is something of the livery that is missing. None of the Airbus jets carries the “Proudly All Boeing” graphic. None of the Embraers do either although that might soon be something they can add before too long!
Have you ever heard of an airline called Starflyer before? If you have, you are one up on me. I saw these guys at Haneda in Tokyo. I didn’t know anything about them but the black livery they apply to their A320s does make them stand out from the crowd. A few of the planes came in and out while I was there. I guess now I know!
One of the fun things about shooting at a different airport is the airlines you are not used to seeing. Interjet is a Mexican airline that I have seen occasionally at LAX and I believe now goes to SFO (too late for me though) but they do serve Vancouver. They are also an operator of the Sukhoi SSJ (although sadly not on this run). They arrive later in the evening so are timed well for the light to be good in the summer months. The A320 may not be as unusual as the SSJ but as a different operator to the norm for me, I was happy to get it arriving.