My trip up the tower at SFO got me thinking about what things I wanted to get done while I was there. One thing I had in mind was a time lapse. I was a bit bothered, though, because we would only have about 20 minutes and setting up the camera and getting it going would eat into that time. Fortunately, Nancy had just given me a new GoPro to replace the one I killed in Hawaii. This one had a time lapse function built in. Also, because it is small, it would be easier to get it close against the glass to minimize (but not totally remove) reflections.
When we got up the tower, I went straight to the window, hit the start button and leaned the camera against the glass. I had no idea whether it was working or not so just left it and hoped. I then started taking the other shots I was after. When our time was up, I had to remember to go and get it again. Only when I got home did I find out that it had taken a steady string of images. I then processed them using my usual software of LRTimelapse aided by the lens correction in Lightroom for the GoPro. The result is this video. It is a little wide angle for some of the distant action and it would have been fun to have a longer time to capture images over but, overall, it worked out quite well.
As I was heading to the tower for my visit, I decided to check out a spot that I had read about for photography. The Airtrain Terminal 2 station has open ends that provide a view of the runways and taxiways. You can get a view of the operations which is quite good. However, you are looking out at each end. The middle of the view is obscured by the terminal buildings – at least for now until demolition takes them away to be replaced with something new. (Supposedly, the new building will include a viewing terrace!)
Unfortunately, some of the most interesting moments take place in the obscured area. Rotations for takeoff and touchdowns for landing can be just out of sight. This is unfortunate. Consequently, this is not a spot I shall try much but it does provide a slightly different view of things at SFO which is at least worth a try. Reverse operations were in effect so I might want to see how it is when things are operating the other way.
The rebuilding of SFO has included building a new tower. I wrote about the old versus the new a while back in this post. The new tower has now been commissioned and is operational. It is time for the old tower to be demolished. Fortunately, the airport invited people to visit before demolition started. The inside of the tower was looking a bit sad. The equipment had all been ripped out. I doubt much of it is getting reused since the new tower will already have been equipped with the latest generation of air traffic control gear. However, the surrounds for the old gear were still there looking rather skeletal.
A week later the process of everything coming down would start. Soon it will look a lot worse and then it will be gone forever. We got a fleeting glimpse of its last days. I hope someone takes some pictures as everything comes down to preserve the last days forever.
Getting an unusual visitor to SFO is worth a look. In June 2017, Finnair are going to be starting regular service to SFO from Helsinki. Ahead of that, though, there was a tech event taking place in Helsinki that meant a bunch of Silicon Valley types would be heading over. Finnair ran two charter flights to SFO, one ahead of the event and one after. More interestingly for me, while the service next year will be operated with an A330, the charter used one of their A350s. Since they won’t be coming back for the foreseeable future, this was a limited chance to catch them.
I only found out after the first flight so the second was my only chance. Fortunately, the weather was more cooperative. It was clear and sunny. However, the wind was over 20mph steadily and gusting stronger than that a lot of the time which made holding a long lens just a little tricky. The timing of the arrival was just late enough to make it a reasonable time to get some shots. Winter in SFO means that morning arrivals don’t have the problems of backlighting in the same way that there is in the summer but early arrivals are still not great. However, it arrived just late enough to have a chance of some reasonable light.
The conditions were clear and you could see the jet as it came over the top and then as it came onto final near Coyote Point. Another aircraft was lining up for approach out behind it and showed up clearly as a result of the clear air. The wind had subsided a little when they made the approach but not much. Consequently, I was fighting with the sail (as the lens became known that day) to keep a steady panning motion on the jet. Plenty of light certainly helped by keeping the shutter speed up.
I wanted to get some departure shots. I waited around when the plane was due to taxi out. However, I did have an appointment to get to and it was clear that the plane was not going to head out in time. In the end, I accepted the timing was against me and headed off. I actually drove by the airport on the way to the city and the taxiing jet came past me as I drove off. No way that I would ever have been around in time for departure. Oh well, at least I got it flying when it came in.