Our return flight home included a layover in London. Our flight in arrived before sunrise and brought us up from the south over to the east end and then back across Docklands, south of Westminster and in to Heathrow. I fortunately had a window seat although I was a bit far from the window itself so there was a certain amount of shooting while reaching across. Trying to pan appropriately for the movement of the aircraft was a touch tricky but I managed to exploit the low light capabilities of the camera to get some okay shots.
We flew across Biggin Hill and I was able to shoot almost straight down on the runway and ramp areas. Then we came up towards Woolwich and I could see the ferries and London City Airport. From there it was not far to the Thames Barrier and then the O2 arena. The high rises of Docklands were next. On to Tower Bridge with the Shard and London Bridge Station. Next stop was The Palace of Westminster with the London Eye and Waterloo alongside. Last was Buckingham Palace and Knightsbridge. Some fun sights to see. In daylight, I can navigate this area easily but, when it is dark, you have to work from key references.
With the firefighting helicopters gathering at Snohomish to cover the local fire activity, I was able to chat to the crews a little while they waited to see what was to come. Northwest Helicopters had brought in a Black Hawk to support the fire if needed. It was a 1984 build airframe and had been painted in a blue scheme. The guys were complaining about the paint, though. It was a matte finish and the soot from the exhausts was discoloring the surface and was, apparently, impossible to clean up. The rest of the airframe looked fine for something that is nearly 40 years old.
They had a Bambi bucket with them for the firefighting side of things and were quite happy for me to check out the interior of the cockpit. Having shot their arrival, it was a shame that the visibility was so bad that they could not do what they had come to do and were stuck on the ground while I was there. A nice pair of guys to chat with, though, and I appreciate the time and access that they gave.
Snowy Cascades shots are pretty but I was shooting from an airliner on my way for a work trip and the mountains were sitting amongst the clouds. Getting a good shot from a plane of a white subject when contrast is not going to be great is a risk but this came out better than I expected. It won’t be too long before the snow is melted and we shall have to wait for half a year to get something like this again.
Continuing my theme of aerial photos from my flight to DC, as we got in to the metro area, I could see a major interchange under construction on one of the highways. I’m sure, if I could be bothered, it would be possible to work out which highway this is and where the interchange is being built but I’m not that interested. If you happen to recognize it, I would be fine knowing since that would require no effort on my part! The evening light angle meant the shape of the construction was picked out with more clarity. I wonder when it is due to be completed?
When I last went to LA, the racetrack in Inglewood had been flattened and construction was underway on the new football stadium. Since then it was completed and opened as SoFi stadium. I was keen to see it in person having seen it on TV a lot. I made sure to be sitting on the left of the plane thinking I could get some shots of it from the air. Having previously photographed the racetrack, I mistakenly thought it would be further south and had a longer lens on the camera. The stadium is closer to the approach path so I had way too much lens and only got shots of parts of it.
However, after my meetings wrapped up, as I headed back to the airport, I did drive by the stadium. There were tours available but I didn’t have too much time so instead parked up and walked around a bit of the outside. I mainly used my phone to take some shots – good for shooting through fences – and also stitched together some shots to make some panos.
The stadium is really impressive to see in person. There is plenty of development going on in the area around it and I imagine it is going to quite transform Inglewood over time. Whether that is for the better or not, we shall see. The landscaping certainly adds to the impressiveness and the overall structure is far larger than just the football stadium which seem to sit inside it and feel rather dwarfed. If you get a chance to go by, I would certainly recommend it. Spending billions on sports stadiums is a controversial topic but this one has certainly got something special about it which is what you would hope for when it cost as much as it did!
The approach to Los Angeles International from the north brings you in from the coast heading east almost directly over downtown before turning south and then west to make the approach to the north complex. This approach gives you a very good view of Dodger Stadium. I had the camera to hand as we came in so grabbed a few quick shots of the park. With the MLB dispute now solved, there should be crowds showing up here before too long (if they haven’t already depending on when I post this).
When I took the flight to DC for work recently, I got to see the countryside to the west of DC in nice light as we descended later in the day. Shooting the ground form an airliner window is never an ideal thing. The window quality is not going to be great so having a clean shot is a crapshoot. The distance also means that things are never as contrasty as they seem to the naked eye and editing often leaves a result which looks a bit harsh.
Low light can help a bit but being lower down is the best way of getting something reasonable. As we came across the hills running in towards our destination, I saw a lot of wind turbines. These were in line along ridge tops on the hills to maximize their exposure to the prevailing wind. The shadows they cast looked neat too. I tried my best to get some shots with my M6 and some of them came out okay. Shooting through multiple layers of non-optical quality transparencies is not going to be ideal though.
For the first time in two years, I made a work trip by plane. I was heading to Virginia for some meetings and was flying into Washington National Airport. I picked a seat on the left side of the plane in the hope that we would make a river approach. That gives a good view of the Mall and the surrounding area as you are on final approach. The weather was lovely with a sunny day and low sun angles as we were arriving later in the day.
At first, we appeared to be heading the right way and then we were too far to the south. I thought we were going to approach from there but then we made a 180 and headed back towards Dulles before starting down and turning on to the river approach after all. I could see the area around the mall coming in to view as I looked forward obliquely, but aircraft windows are not good enough to get a shot like that.
I waited until we were closer in getting shots of Georgetown, the Watergate complex and the Kennedy Center. Then everything was in sight and I was trying to get shots as quickly as I could. Of course, we are not moving slowly at this point so it is not long before any shots have been missed so it was a question of getting as much as you can. I was a little hinder because I was shooting on the back screen of the M6. To see this clearly means taking off my glasses but that isn’t ideal for seeing where to look out of the window. I think I made it work well enough though.
I got to climb a tower crane recently. This is something I had never done before and, since it provides a good view of a site and it was a new experience, I was keen to go. I had one of my bigger cameras with me but I didn’t have a strap for it. This proved to be a poor choice. Climbing the ladders to get up the tower is not particularly hard but trying to do so while keeping hold of the hand strap of one camera was possible but very slow.
I quickly decided to leave the camera on one of the stage levels and get it on the way back down. It wasn’t like anyone was going to be passing by. I still had my phone in my pocket so that would have to do. I got up to the level just below the cab. Stopping at a few levels on the way up game me some different views of the construction site. An elevated position is so appealing to me. It gives perspective that most people never get to see.
Climbing back down again was a little less easy. There is something about climbing up something which seems more natural than climbing down. However, I was soon reunited with my camera and then finished the last couple of levels. I will take good note of the advice about not bruising your knees as the ladder angle changes. I might have bashed them once or twice. Also, next time I shall make sure to have a strap to allow me to carry the better cameras with me!
Bremerton’s naval yard has been cleared out a bit in the last few years. It used to be the resting place of a bunch of decommissioned aircraft carriers. Most have now gone to the breaker’s yard. If you drove into Bremerton, it was quite something to come along the shore and see all of those carriers in front of you. Many years ago, I was on a trip that included a flight from Seattle. We climbed out over the top of Bremerton, and I was able to grab a quick couple of shots through the window of the airliner. I do wish I had got some better shots of the carriers lined up before they all went away.