I diverted my Sunday outing (not far admittedly and I wasn’t under any pressure to be anywhere at a given time) when I saw that an IAero 737 was coming into SEA. This is a 737-300 which means it isn’t too common anymore. There was a time when these things were everywhere. Southwest had tons of them and this example was one of theirs. The conditions were a bit overcast so not ideal but with the sun angle being on the nose, having some cloud made things a little easier. They were bouncing around on short final.
A rainy Saturday afternoon had very little going on except the return of a G600 test aircraft to the Pacific Northwest. I have no idea why Gulfstream has not painted this jet but it is still in primer. I half expected to see it had been painted when it arrived, but it was still green. The conditions were alternating between torrential rain and patches of sun. Indeed, the sun was out five minutes before the G600 arrived but, no surprise, it was back to rain by the time it came in. When conditions are like that, I go with a heavy overexposure and then pull things back down in post. Hopefully, before too long, I will be experimenting with a new body, and we shall see whether I need to modify my exposure techniques in bad conditions.
There are some aircraft that have been built and flown in huge numbers which it is almost embarrassing to admit that you have never photographed. One such aircraft is the Antonov AN-12. This was a ubiquitous military transport for the eastern bloc and, while it is now a rather aged design, it still has a good role as a civil freighter. However, I have never seen one in action until recently.
A Ukrainian registered example from CAVOK Airlines was coming in to Seattle. It was due to arrive at around 1pm which meant the light would be right on the nose. The worst possible case. Of course, that was assuming that there would be light. When it actually arrived, the sun was well obscured by clouds. Given the dark colors of the plane, maybe that was a good thing. Two minutes after it had gone, the sun was back out of course. It was trailing smoke from its old generation engines but it was definitely a highlight of the last few months of movements.
Sun Country changed their livery design a while back going with an orange based scheme known as the pumpkin livery. I hadn’t shot one before – I’ve got their older colors and also the Transavia hybrid on leased jets – but it was due in shortly before the National A330 I had gone out for so I was happy to get the bonus. It’s a garish livery, for sure, but it makes a change from the steady stream of stuff we see normally.
Seeing that a National A330 was coming in to SeaTac one evening, I figured I couldn’t pass it up. Sure, they don’t come here often but they are also one of the few airlines that has a relatively interesting livery. Plus, it would be later in the day when light should be good so why not go? With SeaTac you always wonder whether the heavies will come in on the outer or inner runway. Fortunately, there was a lot of other arriving traffic at that time so it was a good bet they would come on the inner runway. A heavy can disrupt the flow of the lighter wake turbulence category jets.
That proved to be the case. They came to the inner so I was positioned well for the arrival. However, the weather wasn’t playing ball. A bunch of clouds were building off in the distance and they drifted across the sun shortly before arrival. Rainier was already obscured by cloud/haze but losing the sun was annoying. Fortunately, the silvery scheme allows a bit more tolerance of less than ideal light.
International flights are starting to increase in frequency and, it seems, capacity. Lufthansa has been making the run to Seattle with the A330s for a while now. Recently, they changed from the 300 to the A350. One quiet Saturday, I figured I would head down to grab a shot. Sadly, the old livery example of the previous day was replaced with one in the new livery. I do prefer the old livery but that wasn’t the reason for my disappointment. It will go away before too long so there will be plenty of chances to get the new livery over the years. It was hot and sunny and arrival is noon so about the worst time you could think of for photographing. A polarizer to take out some glare and to deepen the colors was the best I could manage.
I complained recently about my lack of luck when shooting the A330NEOs that Delta operates out of SEA. I finally got some better light on them. I was out for the Aloha Air Cargo 767 which was coming in just after sunrise. About half an hour later, Delta had a NEO coming in from Honolulu so I hung around. The light changed a lot in that half hour with the super warm light getting a little subdued as the sun came up but it was still by far the best light I have had on one of these jets. Thankfully it came in on the inner runway so no shooting it in the distance!
I was in a location where a couple of the departures from SEA were overflying me. I happened to have the camera to hand (of course I did) and I had the polarizer on there at the time. I had an Alaska Airlines 737 (what a shock from SEA) and a Hawaiian Airlines A330. I grabbed a few shots. The thing I like about the polarizer is cutting down on the glare from the white fuselages but they were still pretty bright. The rest of the sky was darkened considerably and, when editing to address the white fuselages, even more dark. I quite like the deep and moody look it gives to the shots with very little editing involved. Both jets pulled some vapor as they came through the same area so clearly there was extra moisture in that one spot. Maybe it was a thermal?
The Aloha Air Cargo 767 was the reason for me being out early one morning but it wasn’t the only freighter coming in. (Indeed, this was the case for both of my efforts to get the Aloha jet.). Kalitta were also operating a 767 which is under contract to DHL. Some of Kalitta’s jets are plain white so you wonder whether a given day will bring something in that has a bit of color to it or not. On this occasion I was lucky. It might not be the most dramatic of the DHL schemes but it is better than no color at all!
A 767 freighter conversion made its way across the country and stopped off at Boeing Field recently. Unfortunately, there was no way I was going to be able to get there to see it so I figured it was just one of those things I had missed. However, not long after that, it showed up with a flight plan to SEA. The flight plan was listed against Northern Air Cargo but the plane is marked for Aloha Air Cargo. I was taking the day off and it was due in at the beginning of the day so I decided to head down to try and get a shot.
Sadly, the traffic was getting busy at SEA and, with plenty of departures and not too much on arrival, they put it on the outer runway. It was a bit far out from where I was but I got some shots, although nothing too special. I then saw it was coming back on the Sunday but this time it was due to land at 5:30. With sunrise just after 5am, this would produce some good light. However, I didn’t plan on getting up.
At 4:30 on Sunday morning, I woke up. I thought this was an opportunity so decided to get up and head out. At that time of the morning, no risk of traffic problems. I got down there in good time and, while it was a few minutes early, I was ready for it. The sun was barely up so the light was really excellent. Also, with no departures at that time of the morning, they came in on the closer runway so a total win!