I posted about a trip to Paine Field one evening to photograph an Avanti which was unsuccessful because the plane diverted back to Sacramento. A little while later, I got a notification that it was due in again. The arrival time was about 6:40. With sunset just after 7 at that time, it had the potential to be very nice. Of course, any delay could make it a bust. I figured it was worth a shot and Nancy was fine with waiting from me to get back before having dinner!
The evening light was looking really good. I practiced panning with some of the local traffic while watching for the progress of the Avanti. It was on its way but arrival time was slipping a little. It should still be okay. Meanwhile, I noticed the progress of the shadows of some of the trees where I was as they crept closer to the runway. It was going to be tight. We would make sunset without a problem and there was no low cloud to cause concern but it was a risk that the tree shadows would be on the plane.
Nothing I could do about any of this and, with the plane still airborne as it was due to pass me (assuming that they didn’t land near the threshold), the chances are things would be okay. I kept my eyes peeled for the sight of the Avanti lining up on approach. Eventually it came in to view and zipped down the glide slope. By now the light was low and the shadows were creeping on to the runway but it made the silver of the airframe positively glow. I clicked away as it came by and then I was done. Back home for dinner!
After my afternoon out up in Skagit for the fly day there, I migrated with the guys down to Arlington. They were having an evening flying display that would include the Ryan I previously posted about. An overcast evening did not make for great light for photographing the aircraft. There were only a few displays to see so it wasn’t too much of an event but it was still nice to be out shooting planes again. Rene Price put on a good display in his Sukhoi and the Yak-18 display was a great example of what the plane can do. Interestingly, there was the occasional hint of sunlight from the horizon while it flew which would glint off the white airframe since it was high enough to see the light we weren’t getting.
Grumpy, the B-25, flew a bunch of passes having come across from Skagit. I guess with not much else flying, they were allowed to fly as many passes as they wanted. Other than that, it was a pretty low key affair.
Our hotel in Seattle had a roof deck which we sat out on prior to going out to dinner. Looking south across the city, you can see Mt Rainier. In the evening light, the mountain was glowing. It looked great and was accentuated by some cloud formations across the summit. Sadly, from this location, the bottom of the mountain is obscured by buildings but it was too good a site to let that stop me taking some photos.
Sunsets are a regular theme for photographers since they provide a scene that resonates with people. I have shot plenty of them myself. However, while on Orcas, I saw something in the sky which I was quite baffled by and taken with. The sun was setting in the west and, looking off in that direction, the sky was lighting up as you would expect. However, looking directly south, the sky was doing something very odd. I don’t know exactly what was happening but my guess is that there was a lot of moisture in the sky in that direction and it was reflecting the setting sun back in our direction. It was a localized effect and quite something to see.
An unusual operator is a good reason for a trip out. I had seen some 757 flights in and out of Seattle that seemed to be running a circular route including LA and Hawaii. The airline was called Asia Pacific Airlines and was flying 757s. However, I didn’t have the opportunity to get to see them while these flights were underway. Jump forward to Christmas Eve and I had a day off and they were coming in to Boeing Field. This seemed like it was worth a trip.
They appeared to be providing additional capacity for UPS which was dealing with the big rush in the last days before Christmas. Although the jet was due in a bit later than ideal, I was definitely hanging around to see it. I had got everything done for Christmas so I wasn’t under pressure. The green and white scheme is an interesting change from the usual UPS colors. It landed and taxied to the UPS ramp where the ground crew went to work unloading and reloading it. I didn’t wait for departure, though. Christmas was coming!
The UPS traffic at Boeing Field was busy in the run up to Christmas. As the light was starting to fade and the day end, another UPS jet taxied for departure. It got airborne and headed off to its next destination as the sky in the background had a nice warm look to it.
As the sun starts to set, the clouds that are a regular feature of the Pacific Northwest start to have a benefit. They can be lit in all sorts of interesting ways and it is slightly lazy but still worthwhile to get shots of them. The levels of contrast in the shot are fine with the naked eye but a bit of a stretch for a camera sensor. It can do a decent enough job but it is the sort of thing where bracketing for HDR might give you more to work with so I did give that a go.
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 while back, I made a trek out to Paine Field around sunset to try and get a Dreamlifter in beautiful light. They decided to burn some fuel down to get to their preferred weight and the sun had gone before they took off. You would think I would learn from this but, oh no, I am still a sucker. Departure was scheduled for 8:50 and sunset was 9:03. The day was crystal clear so why not have a go. This time they would be departing to the north so the light angle would be better too.
I turned up at Paine Field and there were two Dreamlifters on that ramp. One had beacons on so that was a good thing. However, no noise yet from the ground cart – they don’t have an APU so need ground power to start. Time was ticking close to departure hour and I was getting nervous but the sound of the cart started so I relaxed a little. However, the start process for all four engines took forever. They were now after the planned time and hadn’t pushed. Eventually they pushed but did so at a glacial pace. Not sure how many minutes passed but we were now perilously close to sunset hour. I was disappointed but still knew that, once airborne, there would be sun for longer up there.
Finally they taxied but by now, the timing was looking worse. Moreover, this must have been the slowest taxi speed I have ever seen for a commercial jet. I wasn’t expecting Southwest taxi speeds but still. They had to get to the other end of the field and boy did they take their time. Then they held at the threshold for a while. The light was definitely past its prime by now.
Finally they did line up and roll. They were only going to Charleston so I expected a relatively spritely take off but they were obviously at a derated setting and rotated further up the field than I would have liked. The best rotation shots had the ILS framework directly in front of the jet. Crap! As it climbed out, the light was a bit better but not what I had really planned for. Oh well, third time lucky?
Three nights in Tofino meant three chances at sunset. Actually, it was more like two as we got there the first evening just a bit after sunset itself but the sky was still really lovely. The second night things were a bit more subdued as the sky was rather clear and there was little to reflect the last rays of the sun. The last night was far more impressive with some cloud on the horizon but obviously more in the atmosphere to glow. Here are a few shots of the sun dropping down and the lovely sky we had to enjoy as we relaxed by the beach.