While walking along the Sammammish River Trail, a couple of Mallard Ducks flew by me at low level. I pulled the camera up at short notice to get a shot. No time to change the settings so this is what I got on the spur of the moment. As it happens, the shutter speed did a nice job of blurring out the background and making them look super speedy. I kind of like it!
While on the hunt for a different aircraft, I was getting some shots of the aircraft coming in to SeaTac from the south. I was pleased to see a FedEx jet showing up on FlightRadar24 but it seemed to be rather close to another plane. It turns out they were scheduling them in on roughly parallel approaches and the FedEx was going to the center runway – not near me. I was a bit annoyed and the view of the center was a bit obscured from where I was. Haze was also going to be a problem – plus the odd power line. However, there was one upside. Mount Rainier is in that direction so, while the shot wasn’t what I wanted, it wasn’t a total loss.
My personal preference is to shoot planes tight. I like to see the detail up close and usually strive to get that in my shots. However, sometimes I remember that there is more to it than that and there is something interesting about the context of the shot. It doesn’t have to be a detailed shot of the plane. It can be a wider shot when no one is looking at the plane expecting to see the intricacies of its structure.
Having some nice clouds to play with is an important part of the story. Going wide when the sky is blue is not really going to add any drama. However, some nice puffy clouds will certainly be appreciated in this situation. In this case I was with some friends at O’Hare shortly after a storm had passed through. Things had cleared up nicely but there was still plenty of evidence in the air of what had been dumping water on us a short while before.
I doubt closer shots would have been much use anyway. With the amount of moisture in the air and the warmth that was quickly coming back now that the sun was out, heat haze would have destroyed an detail with a longer lens. Going wider was probably the only option. It was certainly worth it though. The texture of the clouds after the storm was there to see and to be emphasized in the shots. The plane provides a focal point to explore the image from but is not too important itself. You can’t just do this but, from time to time, it is good to fight your normal style.
What is one of the basic lessons of photography? Walk around a bit and see the different angles available to you before taking the shot. Given how often I have thought about this idea, I am quite annoyed at myself about the lesson I learned with my friend, Roger, recently. We met up by SFO for a relaxing morning of shooting. If you have followed the blog, you will know the various different places I have tried in the past when shooting at SFO to try and get a different perspective. Given all of these different locations, I have missed an opportunity that should have been obvious.
The bayshore trail near the Marriott hotel has been a regular spot for me over the years. When you look at the map, it is a place that brings you as close as you can get to the runways. Moving along the bay gradually takes you further away and, consequently, I had not given much thought to heading that way. Roger wanted to shoot along there (he has been shooting at SFO for years so his experience should not be overlooked) so I joined him. Turns out I have been overlooking a great location.
It is true that you are slightly further away from the runways. However, you are up near the threshold so have a different perspective on the approaches. Also, anything taxiing out comes past a backdrop of downtown San Francisco. You are further away from the cross runway departures but, with clear weather and less heat haze, the airborne jets are in front of the skyline. It makes for quite a nice shot and brings to mind the photos from Las Vegas that have the skyline in the background.
Another benefit comes as the tide goes out. The mudflats at low tide can be problematic from a heat haze point of view. Further along the shore, the water doesn’t retreat too far so you have more water and less distortion. I imagine summer will still be a problem but for winter shooting it works well. A different angle, a nice background, less haze and still not to far away. This is a good option. Also, you can park close by without trouble which is certainly not always possible at the bayshore given how popular a place it is. I am late to the game but glad to have learned my lesson.
This one is something that I can attribute to the Kelby media juggernaut. I did not discover this myself but, if you are a user of Lightroom CC and use either the HDR or the panorama functions, this could be of interest. One of my issues with them was that they took a while to bring up a preview. Once you had got this, the processing would work in the background.
It turns out, if you don’t need to tweak the settings and are happy with what you used previously, you can hold Shift and Ctrl and press either M for panorama or H for HDR and it will launch right into processing the whole thing in the background. You can set multiple versions off if you wish and they will all get to work out of sight while you do something else. While my feelings on the outcome of the processing are not universally great and I covered this in some previous posts, it does a reasonable job most of the time and this is an even better feature that is well concealed!