Shooting Dash 8s and Q400s at YVR is not going to be particularly interesting so I was able to spend some time playing with shutter speeds progressively lower and lower. Shooting very low shutter speeds on the 500mm handheld is a bit of a crapshoot but you never know what you might get. Besides, the evening light meant it wasn’t so bright that you were at ridiculous apertures with the associated endless dust spotting!
I was quite prepared to have got absolutely nothing from these shots. However, either my luck was good or my technique has improved – I think we both know which it is – and I got a few sharp ones with plenty of prop blur and background blur combined. Background blur always makes for a more interesting shot. However, when you want to make sure you get the shot, you aren’t always willing to risk it. Having something that is not a make or break shot means you can have a lot more leeway for experimentation.
Back in the summer of 2017, we made a trip to Oregon for the solar eclipse. You can read all about that in previous posts here and here. The night before the eclipse, we stayed in Portland and the most convenient place to stay was at a hotel near the airport. The location turned out to be between the two runways at PDX and that evening the approach paths brought the planes in from our direction to the runways.
I figured I could pop out for a few minutes and photograph some of the arrivals. The evening light was coming in and we were a little on the wrong side of the closer runway but this was an impromptu shoot so I didn’t mind. A little biz jet traffic came in on the other runway while I got a selection of Q400s, FedEx freighters and the usual narrowbodies.
Since I was close to the centerline of the approach, it provided a slightly different perspective to that which I would normally go for. Looking up and almost straight down the nose is interesting. Not something to do all the time but certainly some variety (particularly if it only requires you to walk out to the parking lot). It’s good to try different angles on a regular basis and avoid getting repetitive.
Medford is not a busy airport for commercial traffic but it does have some regular services. Horizon seemed to be the most common operator (should I call them Alaska now?). Their Q400s were coming and going quite often. Horizon has been painting their aircraft in a large variety of schemes, many of which are associated with colleges around the region. (My friend David who works for them recently shared with me just how many there are so I might start trying to get them all.)
One of the planes is painted to represent Washington State University at Pullman WA. I have seen this one before a few times but this time it was taking off while I was driving around the airport to see what was there. It quickly climbed away past me but I got a better look at it than I had previously done.
Seattle is a busy airport with plenty of operators coming through. However, the home airline is Alaska and their regional affiliate is Horizon. Consequently, both of them are very busy. Horizon operates a fleet of Bombardier Q400s. They used to have some CRJs too but these have been moved to another operator and now they are dedicated to the turboprops.
They do seem to have really gone to town in applying special liveries to some of their aircraft. These are focused on a lot of the local colleges and universities. They do paint up a lot of planes in school colors! While I was there, I got a surprising number of them passing by. Here are a few samples of the different schemes they have (along with one normal one just to show that they aren’t all specials).