Winter in the PNW does not mean reliable conditions for photographing planes. If the weather is bad, you might decide it isn’t worth going out. If it is raining and threatening to rain harder, there is a strong possibility you would skip a shot opportunity. However, 727s are getting pretty rare these days so that seems worthy of a trip out.
The weather was unpleasant when it made its approach but not as bad as it got a short while later. I went with my normal approach for shooting in really bad conditions by pushing the overexposure pretty high. I include a couple of edits. For the main image, I actually blended two different process versions in Photoshop to get the combination that most reflects how the shot looked through the view finder. The other edit is a straightforward Lightroom edit where the angle and the light suited it.
Scrolling through some shots for something else, I saw these two shots of a Dreamlifter departing Paine Field one evening. I think I actually posted about that flight on another day but I guess I ignored the view of the jet as it headed in to the distance. The sky was beginning to develop a nice color and the air was very clear giving a good view of the Cascades mountains in the distance so why not share them now – particularly as it is a time when I am not getting much aviation photography done!
A sunny but cool Sunday afternoon with a bit of spare time on my hands meant I headed over to Kenmore to see whether there was any floatplane activity. The answer was not much. However, I did get something a little larger overhead. Traffic in to Paine Field was running on a northerly flow. A Dreamlifter made an approach and was followed a little later by a 747-8F destined for UPS once test flying is complete. They both turned on to approach overhead the north end of Lake Washington so I got shots of them both.
Every once in a while, I am looking for something in the catalog of images and it takes me on a journey to look through some other images. That can result in a blog post that doesn’t have a story. This is one of those posts. I have a bunch of shots from Narita while waiting for my flights home and that includes a bunch of freighters. I like freighters since they are often operators that you don’t normally see and they break up the flow of the familiar airlines. Here are some of those from my visits.
Continuing my interest in Amazon Prime Air 737s, the one I saw arrive from the conversion line in China was ready for delivery to Sun Country – the airline that will be operating it for Amazon. It was a pretty sunny day when it went out so heat haze was a bit of a problem. The jet was towed out from the ATS facility. Once it was just short of the taxiway, they unhooked the jet and started it up. Plenty of heat haze looking across the airfield I’m afraid.
It taxied to the north end of the field and then took off towards me. It was obviously not heavy for its flight to Minneapolis and it was off the ground pretty rapidly. This made for more of a belly shot than would have been ideal but it still looked okay and actually gave me a better look at the color scheme than I had expected. It is quite a paint job that they have.
In this recent post, I showed a shot of an Amazon Prime Air 737. With a bit more notice and better timing from an availability point of view, I saw that another jet was coming in to Paine Field from Anchorage. It was being delivered from the conversion line in China and would have the finishing touches taken care of by ATS at Everett. I was there and set up in plenty of time – except… I had one camera ready to go but the other one had been previously used for some video at home and was on manual focus. I was shooting with the 500mm initially and all was well. As the jet got closer, I switched to the 100-400 and everything was wrong. Nothing would focus. It seemed like forever but I must have realized fast and flicked the focus switch because I was able to shoot it as it came level with me and crossed the threshold. What an amateur mistake. Fortunately, I got away with it!
The Amazon Prime fleet of 767s has grown to be pretty huge. Initially, I was excited to see one out and about but now they are like Southwest 737s! However, the new addition to the fleet is the 737-800. A bunch of them have been showing up and, prior to delivery to Sun Country that will be operating them, they have been coming through Everett, presumably for some final work at ATS. Sadly, I haven’t been able to get up there to see them.
I did get one of them head past the house, though. It was departing for Minneapolis and its routing took it close to us. Not as close as I would have liked but enough for a heavy crop with a long lens. Not ideal conditions for sure. In the same way the 767s are now ubiquitous, these will no doubt be before to long. However, this was my first encounter. Maybe next time I will be a bit closer – even if it does mean moving away from my driveway!
No great story with this one. I was at SeaTac for a different arrival on the outer runway. A FedEx MD-11F was making an approach to the inner runway while I was waiting. It provides a good alignment with Mt Rainier in the background so I figured it was a shot worth taking and I was pleased with how it turned out. Given how little I have photographed recently, a shot like this from before everything got locked down suddenly seemed like something to share!
The FedEx freighter fleet is extensive and includes a variety of jets. However, the feed of packages to those big jets is partly the role of a bunch of less glamorous types, a significant one of which is the Cessna Caravan. These planes shuttle cargo from out stations to the larger airports and then distribute packages back out to those same stations. It’s not the most exciting flying in the world but it is a valuable job. Here are a few Caravans from FedEx’s fleet that I have seen (relatively) recently. The Cessna Skycourier made its first flight recently and it is intended to replace these guys in the coming years.
The idea for this was spotted by my friend, Paul, during a visit of his but we missed it at the time. It was early in the morning and the water was calm as a millpond. However, the jet was beyond the water before he spotted it. I have missed the chance since or there was not water. However, while the conditions weren’t ideal, when I saw the Dreamlifter taxiing back to the ramp, I realized the opportunity was going to be there this time.
The water wasn’t quite still and I had the long lens on the camera but a phone is a good second best these days. The jet taxied in with Mt Rainier in the background before reaching the north end of the field and crossing over. Then it was time to be ready. The phone has the added advantage of being able to shoot through the fence with no interference.