On a previous visit to Haneda I ended up getting a photo of a Japanese Coast Guard Gulfstream. This time, the weather was not great so I ended up staying on the side which should be backlit but wasn’t since there wasn’t much light! A turboprop showed up on approach which I hadn’t noticed online and initially wasn’t bothered about. However, I shot it and it turned out to be a Japanese Coast Guard Dash 8. I was pretty pleased!
Shooting Dash 8s and Q400s at YVR is not going to be particularly interesting so I was able to spend some time playing with shutter speeds progressively lower and lower. Shooting very low shutter speeds on the 500mm handheld is a bit of a crapshoot but you never know what you might get. Besides, the evening light meant it wasn’t so bright that you were at ridiculous apertures with the associated endless dust spotting!
I was quite prepared to have got absolutely nothing from these shots. However, either my luck was good or my technique has improved – I think we both know which it is – and I got a few sharp ones with plenty of prop blur and background blur combined. Background blur always makes for a more interesting shot. However, when you want to make sure you get the shot, you aren’t always willing to risk it. Having something that is not a make or break shot means you can have a lot more leeway for experimentation.
I made a stop at Vancouver International on my way to the city for a few days. It was the end of the day when I got there and I met up with my friend Mark who gave me a few pointers of what to look out for. The arrivals were in the opposite direction to that we had expected which messed up things a little but there were still options. Besides, I hadn’t shot there before so I was keen to see what was going on.
When you live near an airport, you can get blasé about what comes and goes. The same things every day can be a bit dull. For someone who has never been there before, though, all of this stuff is new and interesting. WestJet may be a familiar sight in Canada but I don’t see them very often. Dash 8s may be very old hat but they have largely vanished where, replaced by the Q400 derivative, so I am pleased to see them. It is this variety that makes somewhere new so interesting. These shots are some of the items that sparked my interest that day. Some more specific planes will get their own time on the blog in due course.
A while back a friend of mine told me about a modified Dash 8 that the Army was using that had been flying out of his airport. It ended up coming to Livermore – a short drive from home. I went to see it but it was parked in a hangar on the other side of the field and I couldn’t see much. It flew a few times but never when I could see it. I figured that there was nothing much to do since I wouldn’t see it. Imagine my surprise when I came across its siblings.
I was driving around Tucson International when I saw two Dash 8s parked up. Sure enough, they were in the same configuration as the previous one. This time they had their civilian markings obscured. A little check with Google and they are apparently RO-6A airframes. The Air Force operates Dash 8s to monitor ranges for traffic under the -7 designation but these are different. Spooky stuff no doubt. Sadly, they didn’t move while I was there but they had been active. I was just glad to catch them out in the wild.