Autumnal weather can make for unpredictable conditions when photographing anything but especially planes. I was up at Paine Field for the NASA flying but was pleased to see that a Falcon 20 was also due to make a stop. This was an IFL Group aircraft making a short stop before heading off again. The clouds had been rolling through, but they parted just before the Falcon showed up. We had great light on it as it landed.
Conditions didn’t stay great and, by the time it taxied back out to depart, it was not so good. Not terrible by any standards but certainly not the lovely light we had for the arrival. It’s rare that I see a Falcon 20 being used for personal transport these days but the fact that they still have a good role for freight usage means we get to see them around still which is welcome.
One Sunday earlier in the year, I was up at Boeing Field for the arrival of an old Gulfstream. That proved to be a successful encounter and has been on this blog already. However, that was not the only bizjet traffic that day. I ended up with a variety of corporate aircraft movements.
There was a Canadian Challenger as well as some NetJets examples. A Falcon 7X was on the move which is a cool looking aircraft. There was also a Falcon 50 parked near the road alongside a Hawker. An Excel came through which isn’t that special but then we got an Eclipse which certainly is. It was a fun time to be out photographing with a lot in a short space of time. Here are some shots of those planes.
Drake recently announced he was stepping back from touring, but this comes after he has been on quite a touring schedule. Seattle was one stop he made. He has his own 767-200 that is operated by Cargojet for him. It is painted in a distinctive sky-blue livery. It came into Boeing Field for the duration of his stay in the city. Sadly, his schedule means he finishes a show and jumps on the plane to fly to the next location overnight. That meant it arrive some time after midnight and departed at an inconvenient time too. I only got it while parked and the light was not great either. Still…
A while back, I had a spate of photographing Lear 60s at Boeing Field. The Lear 60 is not a rare jet but nor is it particularly common so seeing a few in a short space of time, caught my attention back then. The 60 was Learjet’s effort to stretch as much as they could from what they already had. They took the existing wing and added a bigger fuselage. This was possibly the limit of what could be done with that wing.
I think it is a slightly disproportionate looking aircraft. The fuselage looks a bit chunky, the wing seems small for the fuselage, the undercarriage appears to have been carried over so the wheels look particularly small for the overall size. It is a bit of an odd one. Even so, I still like it when they show up. Since they have been out of production for a while, they will start to disappear. They will be around for a while but will progressively become less common. I wonder how many times I shall have so many encounters in a short space of time.
I have been messing around with low shutter speeds for traffic at Boeing Field a lot this year. Some of those shots have made their way into posts on here. One sunny afternoon, I was at the field and there was a lot of business jet traffic but nothing terribly special. This provides a good opportunity to try different things. I had the polarizer and a neutral density filter. The polarizer is good on sunny days for taking down the glare and it also cuts the light. However, the neutral density can really pull the shutter speed down.
Since I didn’t care if the shots were a failure, I was willing to just keep bringing the shutter speed down and down. I compensated by cranking up the frame rate in order to increase the probability of getting a sharp one. This is an interesting challenge. Normally I spend a bit of time culling out shots that just aren’t sharp but, when playing with silly shutter speeds, you need to re-calibrate just how sharp things should be. What is a little off when zoomed in might be of no concern when looking at the full image. That is not an excuse to let plainly bad shots through though.
Here are some of the results that weren’t too bad. Even an average Challenger can look a little more interesting with a very blurry background!
Talon Air’s Hawker 4000 came to Boeing Field and my shots of its arrival have already had their own post. However, while I was reviewing the shots when I got home, something seemed a little odd between the shots. Something seemed to be flapping around on the lower rear fuselage. I zoomed in to the shots and there was an access panel that was unsecured. Its angle was changing between shots, so it was clearly moving around in the airflow. From what I can gather, this is probably where the fueling port is located. These doors are tough, so it was probably fine, but I wonder whether any damage was done on a long flight.
A few times a year, Boeing Field is treated to the arrival of a Hawker 4000. This was not a successful jet for Hawker and so they are far from common. I have shot them on occasions, and they have probably got blog posts when I did. I saw this one coming in one weekend so headed over to see it. When I looked up the operator, Talon Air, I was interested to see on their website that they have quite the collection of 4000s. I guess owning a bunch of them makes supporting them a little easier. Annoyingly, another one was at BFI while I was there and got towed near me before I realized what it was. It didn’t fly while I was there unfortunately.
Previous posts have shown that I like a bizjet that isn’t painted like all of the others and being painted black is even better. It won’t surprise regular readers, therefore, that when I got to see not one but two black Gulfstreams on one afternoon at Boeing Field, I was quite a happy chappy. The weather was not great, though. It was raining pretty steadily which doesn’t make for ideal conditions. However, it isn’t all bad. Sunny days with black jets can produce some harsh contrast conditions while overcast light is more even and soft so it might not be all bad.
Rain in the shots is still going to be an issue though. Depending on the shutter speed you choose, you may well end up with the raindrops being visible in the images. A bit of tweaking of the settings when processing can boost the contrast a little, but those raindrops are not disappearing. Still, the subject is an interesting one to me and that’s what counts.
The large exercise that was taking place in Alaska attracted a lot of unusual types and I have posted about the Hunters and the Northrop Grumman testbed heading up there already. They weren’t the only ones, though. Paine Field had a couple of transients too with a pair of Sabreliner jets heading north. This vintage bizjet is a pretty agile type and Clay Lacy used to display one on the air show circuit. These two had an interesting pod mounted under the front fuselage – presumably for some sort of electronic warfare role. I was able to head up to Paine Field that weekend to get them as they arrived. I didn’t have the time to get them departing although they weren’t around for long – just getting some fuel and then heading onwards.
They did route back through Paine Field when the exercise was done so I was able to get a second go at shooting them then but the conditions were much as before, so the shots are not too different. I did take a bit of a chance with my shots by dropping the shutter speed down pretty low to try and get some good motion blur – always a risk when shooting something new!
One weekend, I was at Boeing Field awaiting something interesting. There was the regular traffic of business jets and, since they were pretty standard fair and the light wasn’t great anyway, I figured I would play with dropping the shutter speed super low. The R3 is great for this because I can select a frame rate of 30fps if I want. When shooting with silly shutter speeds, really high frame rates increase the chance that I might get something that isn’t terrible. Technology overcomes lack of talent!
I was dropping down to 1/50th or 1/60th of a second for some of the arrivals. I was using a polarizer to take out a load of light to allow such low shutter speeds on a sunny afternoon. It also didn’t hurt to reduce the glare with the sun so strong. Most shots were worthless but there were a few that came out okay. Full size there were more acceptable ones but, since I was experimenting, I focused on the ones that were really sharp. Such low shutter speeds do result in parallax issues which is not ideal, so I tend to look for the sharpness to be on the front fuselage unless the plane is going well away from me. There were some 737s on test too, so I played with the same techniques for them as well. Maybe I shall go even lower at some point.