The Skagit Valley sits about an hour north of Seattle and is home to a lot of tulip farms. The spring is the time for the tulip festival. Unfortunately, the beginning of the festival was not a great time for us to get up there with other things going on. However, as things calmed down for us, we were able to get up there towards the end of things. We may have missed the peak time but there was still some impressive stuff to see (and hopefully quite a few less people!).
The fields were absolutely full of tulips. They filled your field of view and you quickly became blasé about the vibrance of color around you. Finding a way to try and convey the sight was a little trickier. The thing I did find particularly visually appealing was the way that people would be walking along the paths between the flowers but appear to be afloat in a sea of flowers. They were all busy photographing themselves in amongst the tulips so were not aware that they were the subject of more than one photo.
One of the things about flying across the country a lot is that you get to see a variety of scenery. Sometimes there are wide open spaces with not much to see. Other times there are mountains and valleys. The unfortunate thing is that it is rather hard to get good photographs. First there is the limitation of shooting through windows. I always aim to be on the side of the plane away from the sun –partly out of comfort and partly for photography reasons – but having a window that is not optically perfect and then a piece of protective Perspex inside that means that reflections and distortions are a problem. Since the windows are not uniform, you can end up with some parts of the image sharp and others not. The autofocus can also struggle sometimes.
Even after all of that, you still have a problem with exposure. You are quite a long way away from whatever you are shooting (shooting straight down is impractical given the window angles and how bad the optical properties become if angling across the window) so you have a lot of atmosphere to deal with and haze becomes a problem. A certain amount of compensation is possible in post processing but it is always annoying that the shot does not look like the image you thought you saw at the time.
However, sometimes you just have to suck it up since you are seeing something that you otherwise would never see. One thing that struck me on a recent flight was the patterns on the ground. The fields had been harvested relatively recently and the harvesting had left different fields with different effects making some great patterns on the ground. You would see these but, since you are moving along at a fair old clip, you had a short while to see what you wanted and make the shot before you had passed the point of the best composition.
If only these would look as good as they did to me when I was there. Oh well, hopefully you will get some idea of what I was impressed by, even if the shots themselves are not impressive.