We were in the Cotswolds for a wedding earlier this year and the morning of the wedding found my with little to do while everyone was getting ready. I was only 30 minutes or so from the old RAF airfield of Kemble, now Cotswolds Airport. Surely it would be churlish to not take a look since I was killing time? Kemble has quite a lot of interest and will mean there are several posts to come. The first will focus on one of the largest residents.
British Airways painted three of its 747s in retro liveries. The jets had different interior configurations which meant they were used on specific routes. I got to shoot the BOAC jet and the Landor jet when they came to Seattle but I never saw the Negus jet. When BA retired the 747 fleet during the pandemic, the Negus jet apparently made its way to Kemble to become a venue rather than get reduced to parts and scrap metal. However, I didn’t know this.
Consequently, I was rather surprised to find the jet sitting there as I drove up to the airport main buildings. There are other 747s stored on the field at Kemble but this one is very accessible. It was early in the day when I arrived so I could wander around unfettered but there were already crews showing up to bring in fixtures for an event that they were going to be hosting. Renting out a 747 for an event sound like just the sort of thing I would do! I was very pleasantly surprised to see the third of the retro jets and to see it in such good condition. (Sure, they have a few nacelle panels that have been switched around but it still seems in good shape.)
At the time of writing, the end is nigh for the second of Alaska Airlines’ Salmon Thirty Salmon paint jobs. These are a result of a sponsorship program with Alaskan fisheries and, from what I have heard, this deal has come to an end and the jet is due for a repaint. I came across the first of the Salmon Thirty Salmon jets many years ago at LAX. The original jet was a 737-400 and I shot it on Sepulveda Boulevard resulting in a shot I was rather surprised and happy with.
The -400s have gone from the Alaska fleet and the livery was added to a 737-800. I have seen it a few times over the years but never in good conditions or too close so, once I heard it was heading for repaint soon, I decided to try and get some parting shots. These shots required a combination of decent conditions, the right time of day, not being at work etc. I was lucky that the jet was departing SEA early one Saturday morning so I would get it with low early sun as it climbed out. That worked out pretty well.
The second shot I wanted was inspired by my original shot. I wanted to get a low shot from underneath. Fortunately, I got an evening when the jet was due in and would be approaching from the north which gave me a good location to get the shot. Mission accomplished so, now when the jet gets painted, I will be fine. If they paint a Max9 in the livery, that would be cool but no sign of that so far.
Air Canada brings a pair of A220-300s in to SEA each evening – one from Toronto and one from Montreal. They leave the following morning with the Toronto flight heading out early and the Montreal flight following a couple of hours later. The Toronto flight one weekend was the TCA special aircraft so I decided to head out and catch it departing.
The day started very overcast and gloomy but there was a sign that things were going to get better. This did happen but things were still not great when the jet departed. The light had improved a bit but the cloud was still there. When looking at the shots, I figured it was time to make use of the masking options that Lightroom offers. The latest update has improved their usability somewhat. First I drop the exposure of the shot overall to get the sky looking roughly how I want it. Then I select the aircraft suing the Subject option. It does a pretty reasonable job but I do then refine it with an addition brush to bring in the bits it has missed and a subtract brush to take out the detail areas where the mask has overlapped.
The new option is the click on this mask and choose the Duplicate and Invert option. This gives me a sky selection that matches what I have got for the aircraft. For the sky, I can work on the white balance to bring it back to something more cool which suits the overall look of the shot. I can similarly work on the white balance for the jet to make the reds pop more in the livery. The exposure can be brought up a bit with the shadows helping a little while bringing the blacks down while improve the contrast.
All of this is pretty straightforward. One nice feature of the latest update is that you can actually apply the same settings to multiple images. The brush adjustments are not going to work well for this so it is best to do the overall selections and sync to the various images and then, if a shot is worthy of further work, the refining of the mask can be done afterwards. If you know which shot is the best, you can just focus on that one.
Shooting at an airport you don’t normally get to shoot at means you have the opportunity to shoot airlines that you wouldn’t see otherwise. What can be even nicer is if you get a special livery on one of these jets. (There is a small element in the back of your head that worries about not having shot the normal livery and that you still won’t have because of the special but that churlish thought needs to be suppressed!) Three of the jets coming in from overseas were in special finishes as was one of the locals. British Airways had an A320neo in a paint finish that was sky blue. I actually watched it depart too when waiting to board my flight home.
Kenya Airways flies their 787s in to London. The jet that came in on this day had a graphic of rhinos on the rear fuselage. Not a totally different livery but a nice addition. Brussels Airlines flies their A320s in to Heathrow and the airframe I saw was in a Tintin scheme that covered the whole airframe. It looked really good. Royal Jordanian was the last of my specials. Its 787 had a graphic advertising the city of Petra which covered the side of the jet. All nice efforts by the respective airlines.
Sentry Eagle 2022 had a couple of F-16s on static display that had been painted up in special color schemes. They were supposed to be throwback schemes but, according to those I know that know more about these sorts of things, there are some issues with the schemes that they chose. I have no idea about such things but I have to say, neither scheme seemed to look that great to me. They felt slightly cartoonish but I can’t come up with a better explanation what it was.
Getting shots of them both was not straightforward. First, there were a ton of people around as they were central to the static displays for the show. Also, the sun was very high and bright and they was a lot of contrast to deal with. One of them was also close to a shadow from a hangar which made for even more contrast issues. Since we weren’t staying on base for the full show, I only had a narrow window to work with. It did improve just before we left, thankfully.
Alaska Air is going through a re-fleeting process in the near future. They are consolidating types in service with some aircraft disappearing. The Airbus fleet is on the way out which is no great surprise to anyone. The Horizon fleet is also getting some changes with a focus on the Embraers and the Q400 turboprops also going away. The Q400s have been ubiquitous in the Pacific Northwest for so long that I didn’t always pay them much attention. Now I need to think about them a bit more.
One of the fleet has been painted in a retro paint scheme for Horizon’s days gone by. Despite it being a plane that should appear at Seattle multiple times a day, I had never seen it before. Therefore, I was very pleasantly surprised to see it at Portland when we were down there. Our photo location was directly above the ramp that the Horizon planes were operating from and the south runway, which was their runway of choice, was convenient too so I was able to get a bunch of shots of it in action. How long before this plane and all of its sisters are gone from the area.
Airline sponsorship deals around the Star Wars franchise are a big deal these days. I have shot a variety of them over time. The United Rise of Skywalker jet recently got repainted back in to standard United colors. Alaska Airlines has signed a new deal associated with the Disney park attraction and they unveiled the jet after it had been painted in Spokane. I missed its initial visits and then got it one weekend but only in some pretty dingy conditions.
Then I got a second chance at both the arrival and departure one morning when the weather was far more favorable. The airframe is mainly black with a variety of graphics across it. There is a graphic of a porg in a location that is designed to look like a front window. They are also on the winglets. I find that creature annoying so don’t have much interest. However, the addition of Tie Fighters and the Millennium Falcon are better from my perspective. I guess that shows my age.
The creation of the airline alliances has allowed airlines to serve a wider range of routes than they could sustain themselves. Part of their obligation as a member of the alliance is to have some of their aircraft painted in alliance colors. Sadly, these liveries are not that exciting but I suppose it is some variety. I was quite surprised to get an Air France 777-300ER in SkyTeam colors vacating the runway at the same time a United 777-200ER in Star Alliance colors was taxiing the opposite direction. I felt like the scene for a stand off but no such thing occurred.
Early morning at Washington National and I was waiting for my flight home after a work trip to DC. As I sat at the gate, a JetBlue aircraft was coming up from the south end of the field. It was painted in a red scheme representative of the fire department of NY. They have a few different special liveries on their jets but a bright red one is quite the opposite of their normal look. Sadly, the light was a bit dull but I wasn’t passing up the opportunity to get a shot, even if it was through the terminal windows.
The arrival of this Alaska 737 on the flight line at Renton got a lot of attention from the locals. A special livery is always going to be of interest but this one is better than the average. The dark blue combined with the orcas is a really cool look. I first saw the jet while it was on the flight line at Renton ahead of a first flight. I wasn’t able to get it as it left Renton but I was able to catch its arrival at BFI. After a few test flights, it has now been delivered to Alaska so now I just have to hope I can catch it in better conditions.