While at Boeing Field, you get a steady stream of traffic for SeaTac overhead. With Delta’s substantial presence at Seattle, the right time of day can mean a few widebodies. The A330 is a big part of their operations and we currently get the old and the new with the -300s and the -900 neos. The conditions looked pretty clear above me but there must have been a lot of moisture around because the jets seemed to be pulling a bit of vapor with them and going in and out of clouds that they seemed to hard to see without them there.
I was a bit annoyed that my one spare day in Tokyo was a rainy one. I didn’t have any great plans for the day other than getting adjusted to the time but, when I knew it was raining, I almost didn’t even bother with Haneda. However, in the absence of another plan, I decided to go. The thing I liked about it was that, with the rain falling, the runway was wet. This resulted in a lot of moisture being thrown up in the air by the jets as they reversed thrust. Some went for minimum reverse but others went for a bunch of throttle as they aimed to stop in time for the exit they were aiming for.
Departure day at RIAT was a bit overcast, much like the majority of the show. The damp atmosphere did have the positive effect of meaning many of the more powerful prop aircraft were pulling vortices from the tips of their propellers. This was most obvious earlier in their take off runs but you could get a pretty good view of it even head on from where I was sitting in the FRIAT stand. Here is one of the Hercs that was beating the air into submission.
Damp and cloudy days are not always ideal for aviation photography but they can provide some interesting options. One weekend I was up at Everett when they were approaching from the south. The jets broke out of the cloud at quite low level but there was some light from the side coming under the clouds. The damp air meant that the jets were pulling some conspicuous vortices as they flared for landing. They were a long way off but it was possible to get some shots of them. The 747 produced vortices that were easier to see but the 787s didn’t do too badly either.
The day I was flying out of Narita was not a good day for weather. Another typhoon was approaching and the rain ahead of the storm had reached us. I did initially visit the viewing terrace in the terminal but, as the rain started, I decided to head inside and go to the Delta lounge which has a great view of the runway and the ramp. It wasn’t long before the heavens opened. Departures reversed direction as the wind shifted.
The arriving jets were now throwing up huge clouds of spray as they selected reverse. Combined with the heavy rain already, they were pretty obscured. Editing the photos allows you to do a lot of work with the contrast to bring out more of the detail but the real view was surprisingly limited. Some of the shots are so hidden by rain that there is little that can be done with them. Departures also did a good job throwing up lots of water in their wake.
The amount of moisture in the air meant the inlets would often be fogged, even for the jets that were landing. Trailing vortices were showing on climb out and there was lots of vapor over the wings after takeoff. The only downside to all of this was that the cloudy background makes it harder to apprecaite the effects that were on show. It does show, though, that a rainy day is not necessarily one to be ignored from a photography perspective. You can sometimes get some interesting shots in conditions that seem very unappealing. (It doesn’t hurt to be shooting this from indoors in a warm and dry room with a ready supply of food and beverages.)
My trip to Rainbow Canyon gave me plenty of time to enjoy the scenery as the jets only showed up infrequently. It was a cool and clear day on the whole but there were some times when clouds moved in. This caused me some concern since I didn’t want to wait for a long time and then have jets show up when the valley was socked in!
Fortunately, the clouds did not get in the way of the main focus of the trip. We did get some clouds drifting over the valley far below us. We also got little puffs of cloud working their way up the canyon. One bank of cloud rose out of the canyon and across the ridge on the opposite side from me. I watched it drift across the surface gradually obscuring areas that had been clear a moment before.
Another small cloud formation drifted up the canyon towards me. It was an isolated little cloud and it drifted in my direction and floated up over the edge of the ridge and to one side of where I was standing before it dissipated. Then it was all clear again and I could go back to waiting for the jets.
The day I left London was a bit damp which made for a bit of vapor on departure. I was sitting almost directly over the wing. I couldn’t see in to the inlet but I could see vapor puffs in front of the inlet at lower speeds anyway. As we rotated and climbed out, there was plenty of vapor puffing over the upper surface, aided by climbing through a few patches of cloud. I had the video running the get a view of the moisture and here is what I got.
Rain forest conditions do tend to mean lots of moisture in the air. That much moisture means perfect conditions for the growth of lichen. The lichen do a great job of collecting the moisture from the air to keep them well watered. The way the water drops form on the surface of the plant can be really interesting. Just a small vibration would send them dropping to the plant life below but, for now, they were safe.
Getting shots of vapor is a popular thing when shooting fast jets. An airliner on a damp day can also result in some clouds being formed. While shooting something special at Oakland, I was getting a few shots to make sure the light metering was working as planned. A Southwest 737 came in and, as it flared for landing, it had a nice cloud of moisture form over the wing. Normally these things pop up further out on the approach and don’t make for a good shot but this one was close at hand.
Moisture in the air is not always what you want when you are out shooting aircraft. However, it does have its benefits if there isn’t so much of it that everything is either obscured or gray. The weather conditions over San Francisco Bay can be very localized and, as the planes come down final approach, they can go through quite a variety. I was out hunting for Air Force One a while back and I got some good examples of this.
The weather at SFO was actually quite nice (although not when Air Force one departed as I have previously written about). The sun was out and the sky was pretty clear. In fact, there was quite a troubling amount of heat haze. However, once you got towards the south end of the bay, there was pretty solid cloud cover. The planes coming in were in full IMC for a good portion of their approach. Somewhere in the region between Coyote Point and the San Mateo Bridge they would break out of the cloud cover. Then, for the next mile or so, they were in the clear but still in very humid conditions.
The result of this humidity was a lot of vapor forming up over the wings. The low speed and high lift configuration made the wings a good place to get cloud formations as the moist air passed over them. Additionally, the trailing vortices were showing up well as a result of the condensing moisture in them too. For quite a while, each aircraft showed similar patterns as it descended. The widebodies seemed to be better for showing this but that might just be a function of them being easier to see further away when the effect was most pronounced. The closer they got to the field, the less the effect until it was pretty much gone when they were on final approach.