My negative scanning exploits have been covered a fair bit on this blog. Up to now, this has been focused on my 35mm films. However, when I was a kid, I had a 110 film camera. This was not what you would consider the pinnacle of photographic technology. It was a small, plastic camera with a lens that I doubt was up to much. 110 film came in a cartridge and was tiny so you were making an image on a small frame with a dodgy lens and nothing much you could control.
I didn’t know what I was doing so we were destined for great results! I didn’t understand how much light would be available so would take shots indoors without a flash and be shocked that nothing came out or that it was very blurry. The viewfinder was offset so you had parallax issues which became apparent when you tried to photograph something up close. All in all, not great. However, for general shots, it would give you a result. Not a good result but a result.
I dug out some of these 110 negatives to see what I could find. Some of the shots, while not of any quality, are historically significant. In 1982, we were living in a flat on the waterfront in Cowes. We had a lovely view across the Solent. We could see from directly north off to the east. Part of the building obscured our view to the west but our bathroom had a small window that looked across the roof and could give a less obscured view to the west. It was from here I photographed the QE2 as she sailed for the Falklands.
She had been requisitioned for the war and went into Southampton to be modified. The rear decks were cut back and the swimming pools plated over to make helicopter landing pads. All the nice stuff was taken out and she sailed with 5 Brigade aboard heading for an uncertain future. She came out Southampton Water, negotiated around Brambles Bank and then came past us and on her way. At one point a pair of Sea Kings flew over the top.
Canberra’s departure and return were bigger events for us when they happened and I remember them both vividly. QE2 came back on a school day and I could see her coming up the Solent from the tower building in the center of the school but it was a distant return. Canberra came back at the weekend and was part of an amazing flotilla as everyone seemed to be out to greet her. I have no shots of that!
My previous unsuccessful trip to Paine Field on the Saturday for the first flight of the fourth 777X was followed up by a more successful Sunday visit. The dull and dreary Saturday weather had been replaced by clear skies (the smoke had finally gone away) and the sun was out. The time for takeoff was not going to be great because the sun would be high to backlit, but this was a first flight so the chances of it going on time were limited.
Sure enough, things got dragged out and the sun moved to a more favorable part of the sky. A 777F from Lufthansa Cargo was doing some test flying to provide some other interest and there was plenty of activity generally to photograph. Eventually the 777X was towed. From its parking spot to the south entrance to the Boeing ramp where it could start up.
It taxied up the Alpha taxiway to the hold point and then pulled into position. Normal Boeing practice is to do an accelerated and rejected takeoff before flying. They sat on the threshold and powered up, but the wingtips had not been lowered. I don’t know whether this was a test of the system that is designed to prevent taking off with the wing tips in the wrong position or not, but it seemed that way. Either way, the jet didn’t move.
They then lowered the wing tips, powered up, accelerated and then braked. Taxi back to the threshold again and a long way for some other traffic before they lined up again. The jet wasn’t heavy, but I was slightly surprised how much flap they had for takeoff compared to the other jets I have seen taking off there. Anyway, power on and off they went.
They were due to be flying for a few hours and then landing at Boeing Field so I figured I would make the trip down there for the arrival. On pulling up at Boeing Field, I bumped into my friend David so we were able to talk rubbish about planes for a while waiting for any arrivals. In due course the 777X showed up on approach by which time the light was a lot nicer than it had been for departure. Things may have taken longer than planned and meant the day was not much good for anything else but it was a fun outing and a successful trip.
I have been to a bunch of shows at RIAT and have done arrivals day a few times too. One thing I had not managed to do before was be there for departure day. I wasn’t going to be able to do the full day because I needed to head off on the next leg of our vacation but I got a good chunk of the time. Of course, the weather continued its theme of overcast conditions. There were certain things I really wanted to see which didn’t always work out whether it was Tornados going when I wasn’t there or things that departed up field and didn’t come near us.
Even so, there was a great selection of interesting bits and pieces to see heading out. Some of them just took off and climbed away normally. Others seemed to be trying to get as high as possible quickly which wasn’t much fun for the gathered photographers. A few put on a decent wag of the wings to please us. The rotation point for most aircraft was quite a way from where we were which was a bit of a shame as rotation can make for an interesting shot. A bit of heavy cropping and you can get the idea. At least the lack of sun reduced the amount of heat haze. Here is a gallery of a bunch of shots from the time I had.
A Royal Air Force Textron T-6 Texan takes off from RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom.
A Royal Air Force BAE Systems Hawk T2 takes off from RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom.
A Danish Lockheed Martin F-16A Fighting Falcon takes off from RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom.
Two Swedish Air Force SAAB JAS39 Gripens take off from RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom.
A Luftwaffe Eurofighter EF2000 takes off from RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom.
An Italian Air Force Eurofighter F-2000A takes off from RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom.
A Hawker Hunter takes off from RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom.
Departures over the Speedway are best when they flex. The straight out departures are fine but not that exciting and they often get pretty high pretty quickly. Those jets that flex seem to stay a bit lower and provide a more interesting shot. The later in the day it is, the better the light on a flexing jet. If they are doing an evening departure after the Flag participants are back, the conditions can be ideal.
A USAF Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” flexes on departure from Nellis AFB NV.
A USAF Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles passes the moon as it flexes on departure from Nellis AFB NV.
A USAF Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles flexes on departure from Nellis AFB NV.
A USAF Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II flexes on departure from Nellis AFB NV.
A Royal Dutch Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16A Fighting Falcon flexes on departure from Nellis AFB NV.
Here is a selection of jets in both good and okay lighting. If a four ship goes out, you hope for the last jet to be more dramatic since it will be playing catch up with the others and shoot turn in a bit tighter. The fourth Saudi F-15SA was another story though since he went very early and then straightened up before having another go inside us. Not sure he had been paying attention at the brief!
I haven’t shot at Fisherman’s Park before and I am glad Hayman suggested it. The location provides a slightly different perspective on the planes coming in to SFO. It also seems to be the right angle to get lots of planes in one shot. Parallel approaches will give you two but you can also get the aircraft departing off the 01s in the background too. Sadly, they were often in shade as they departed but it still provided some contrasting shots. Then it was just a question of whether you could get two arriving and two departing jets in the same shot or not. Sadly, not this time.
When the Korean Air 747 pulled away from the gate, the ground crew all lined up to wave goodbye. I loved the personal touch. Not something you ever see in the US. I did wonder how many people on board were looking out of the windows to appreciate this gesture.
Sometimes you find yourself in a position that yields a shot that you hadn’t anticipated. Normally shooting stuff over a long distance doesn’t do much for you because atmospheric distortion means the shots are of no use. However, sometimes the conditions are clear and things show up better. In this case I was shooting some jets on final to SeaTac. The position meant I had a good view of jets that were climbing out on departure. The departure path from SeaTac to the south is straight for a long time so you could get two or three jets climbing out in sequence. In this shot I got the three of them.
Shooting at Nellis always requires choices to be made. Aside from determining which end you will go to, there is the question about how far up you will go at the Speedway. Some jets turn very tight, others turn long. Some departing jets flex, some flex more tightly than others. Where to go? Paul and I headed up near Gate 7 to see whether we would do alright. As it happened, quite a few of the jets were flexing right overhead us. This didn’t provide the sort of shots we had originally envisaged but, as it turned out, I was rather pleased with the different look.
I was getting some very head on shots of some of the aggressor F-16s as the turned towards the ranges. There was even a bit of moisture in the air and the vortices over the root extensions were showing up. That angle has a very dynamic look, even though the lighting in that location is not great for such an angle. The other benefit was as they had passed overhead. You got a close look at the top side of the jet from behind as they flew away. It might not have been what we intended but I was rather pleased with the outcome anyway.
Regular visitors to Nellis will know this and can move along. For those that haven’t shot there, Nellis departure routes when taking off from the 03 runways can be one of two things. The jets tend to climb quickly and they are offset from the usual photography location alongside the speedway. You can get shots but they are pretty samey with side on shots of the jets further away or slightly underside shots of the jets coming off 03L.
However, anything that is playing as Red Air tends to take a Flex departure. This involves a break to the left from the normal route with a different heading to take the, to the ranges to deal with the incoming Blue force. The aggressors tend to flex most of the time. The other aircraft that may be augmenting the aggressors might flex too. The nice feature of this is that they break towards you. Then you are playing a guessing game as to how quickly they will break. You pick a spot along the road and hope that they will come your way. Sometimes they will turn tight and catch you out. Other times they will delay a bit and still be far away from you. At their speed, it doesn’t take much to increase the distance from where you are. At least you get more dynamic shots.
Normally airliners stay quite a distance from each other. Getting more than one in a shot is the result of compression of the distance as they pass in different directions. What is more fun is to have each jet be replaced by two. SFO likes to have the parallel arrivals and similarly the departures are often involving two planes at a time. If you time it right and have the angles aligned properly, you can get four jets in one shot – two on approach and two taking off.