One of the things I have been contemplating for a while is getting some shots at SFO from straight down the runway. I have been to other locations and blogged about them here and here. However, I wanted to try a view that included the runway itself. With a day free to play, I decided to explore the options.
I ended up with a spot that was reasonable. It isn’t perfect with fences and lights in the way to some extent. A parking lot between me and the runway has the double effect of being visually intrusive and also providing lots of heat haze. In truth, heat haze was a big problem while I was there. This was something I had anticipated being an issue. However, I was more interested in understanding the possibilities there so I could come back at a different time of year when heat haze is less of an issue.
Even so, as the sun got lower, the problem did reduce a lot and, of course, the lighting got a lot nicer. I am thinking a visit when the timing of the departure peak combines with the lighting is going to be in order.
One other thing that will change is that my visit occurred during the time in the summer when SFO was working on two runways and all operations were on the 28 runways. That meant I had a lot more departures coming my way than will be the case when the 01 runways are taking the majority of the departure traffic.
The head on shots weren’t the only ones I got at SFO. Rather than go to Coyote Point, I decided to hang around by the Bay near the airport. Here you don’t get as close to the aircraft but you do get to see them land and also hope for a parallel approach or two. One problem with being further away is heat haze.
I thought I might be okay on this trip. It wasn’t particularly warm (although the sun was out) and the tide was in so, rather than mud flats between you and the planes, there was a lot of water which means less heat haze. However, I guess the power of the sun was going to win. Haze was a lot more of a problem than I expected and the shots are okay but not terribly usable.
However, it was nice to spend some time out in the sun watching planes so I can’t really complain. There were a few interesting things to see including the first JetBlue A320 fitted with Sharklets and a United 737 in a retro Continental scheme.
During a previous visit to San Francisco I had a go at shooting head on departures and wrote about it here. I also tried some head on shots at O’Hare and that made it on to the blog here. I was back in San Francisco for another project and the weather was a little better so I decided to have another go.
This time, the light was a lot better but there were other conditions to deal with. Nice weather tends to bring with it more heat haze. This was certainly true here since the aircraft are coming across a heavily developed area that radiates a lot of warmth on a sunny day.
Additionally, the wind was obviously beneficial to departures as a few of the heavies were going off the cross runway rather than coming towards me. This is a pretty unusual occurrence although not totally unknown. However, it is pretty frustrating to see the big jets going away from you when they are the majority of traffic you can expect. However, I did get a few corporate jets coming my way which helped a little.
Despite all of this, it was still a productive shoot and I got a few good pictures before the light started to give up entirely.
I recently posted about a trip to O’Hare in some crummy weather when I didn’t end up with many good results. One of the better aspects of that visit was that I found a nice location directly under the approach to 14R. This provides some good head on shot opportunities. Head on shots are kind of fun I find. They are a different perspective to normal and mix things up a bit. You can’t do it all of the time or it is dull but it does make for some more dynamic shots that the standard side on pass.
I waited to see when the right combination of wind and weather would occur so that I could get the morning light just off the nose when this runway was in use again. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait particularly long. Things lined up quite nicely so I popped out to have a look. My desire to stay in bed meant that I was about five minutes too late to catch the ANA arrival from Japan but others were on the way so it was a nuisance but not a huge loss. However, en route I did take a look at the south side of the field for other possible shooting locations.
I had shot a few years back at a spot that provided a great view of aircraft departing off 22L, many of which turn quite early after departure giving some topside views. This spot ended up having a warehouse facility built on it which was a nuisance. however, further development in the area has provided some spots to park so I checked out one of these and it seems a reasonable option. Then I headed to the approach.
In good light it seems to work really well. I experimented with wide angle shots as they pass overhead as well as long lens shots that crop tightly in on the aircraft as it gets closer. Both seem to have some merit. I didn’t stay too long as there was a gap in the larger arrivals so I headed back to my other new spot to try a few departure shots. Then it was back to the approach for the last of the big jets and then home. Not a bad morning really and with the day only just started, plenty of time to do other things.