Tag Archives: sunset

RCAF Hornet Tests High ISO Performance

The later stages of the Abbotsford Air Show included a performance by the RCAF CF-188A Hornet.  By the time it was performing, the light was pretty much gone.  The late performance has some benefits in that the burners are more striking against a darker sky, but the RCAF display often ends with a landing with the hook lowered.  I had seen this before at Chino and the same problem as happened there occurred here.  The touchdown point was a long way away from the spectator line, so it was too far away to get a decent shot.

However, there was the rest of the display to go for.  My current cameras seem very able to handle low light conditions.  The focus might be a touch slower or less accurate as the light diminishes but I wasn’t noticing a significant problem.  Also, the high ISO capabilities of current generation cameras are really impressive so shooting in such conditions is not necessarily a problem.  The camera will be able to perform although that won’t compensate for a jet just not looking that good with so little light.  You still have to pick your shots.

The Hornet is a good display jet with the ability to point the nose in different directions rapidly and to pull a decent amount of vapor from the air.  It can turn and it can blast through, so it makes for a good show.  Original generation Hornets are starting to become a rarity.  It won’t be long before the Canadian jets have been replaced by F-35s.  Other operators have already transitioned and more will follow.  Catch the legacy Hornets while you can and, preferably, in interesting lighting conditions.

It Might Have Been Green but the Light Was Excellent

An Air Tanzania 737 Max 9 made its initial flight from Renton and was due into Boeing Field at the end of the day.  The timing of its arrival was looking promising.  However, I was dealing with something else, and it was a higher priority.  If that could be completed in time, the Air Tanzania might just work out.  Having shot their 767 freighter, I was hoping that it would already be painted.  That was not to be the case with only the rudder and winglets showing the colors that are to come.

The evening light was developing nicely so the green of the protective covering really looked pretty good.  However, the real benefit was once the plane had passed me.  The sky to the east was developing a really cool purple hue.  The evening light was working wonders with the clouds over there.  Stick a green 737 in front of that and things really did look good.  I hope I get to see it once painted before it heads off to its new home.

F-35A Snorting it Up at Abbotsford

I saw the USAF F-35A demo at SeaFair in 2022 and it was impressive but, unfortunately, a bit distant over the lake.  Abbotsford in 2023 was my first chance to see the performance closer in and that combined with the evening show to give good lighting conditions.  I was not disappointed.  The demo was a great routine, and it really tore up the skies as the pilot wrung the jet out for our entertainment.  The honking great engine means it is never quiet and, while it might not be as agile as an F-16, there is plenty of control authority for some rapid changes of direction.  The evening light made the airframe look even better.  These are some of my favorite shots from the display.

Shooting Just Before Sunset at SEA

With some nice autumnal light and a northerly flow at SEA, I was going to stay around to see what jets were heading out as the light was starting to be at its best just before it disappeared completely.  At that time of year, there would be a number of widebodies heading out to Europe and the Middle East that would be close to sunset.  In the weeks afterwards, they would all be after sunset!  I decided to see what I could catch.

The light got better and better, so it was pretty straightforward to catch some really nice images of the big jets (and some smaller ones) as they climbed out of SEA on their way back to home base.  Just looking through the viewfinder, I knew that I was going to be very happy with the results.  Then, the sun set, and the light changed dramatically.  However, some of the shots I got after this time will justify their own post.

Sunsets and Sunrises Over the African Plains

I may have spent a lot of time watching and photographing wildlife while we were in Kenya and Tanzania but the times of day when were out were early morning and late afternoon which meant that there were going to be sunrises and sunsets that I could photograph too.  We had quite the selection of lovely opportunities to take these shots and here are some of the images that I like the most.  We did also get some interesting skies with the light at either end of the day, but I shall give those moments their own posts.

The Return of the DC-8 and Max 10 After the Storm

There was an evening when the weather was awful and the NASA DC-8 was out on a mission.  The forecast suggested things might get a bit clearer late in the afternoon and so, while the light was awful, I thought I might take a chance and head to Paine Field after work.  The sky was dark and ominous but I was there so I might as well wait.  As the Max 10 was first on approach, it was the one I would try out first.  There was a hint of the sun starting to punch through the cloud and it did look okay.

Then, when the DC-8 showed up, the clouds parted.  The backdrop was still and evil looking sky but the sun was on the plane as it came down the approach.  I had thought of shooting video but, when I saw the light, I couldn’t resist shooting stills.  The joy of modern cameras is the ability to switch rapidly from one to the other.  I got video down the initial approach and then stills as it was close in.  Then back to video once it was by me.  This actually didn’t make for a bad video edit.

A moment with light like this is very rare and you have to be excited when it all works out.

Sunset on Mt Baker

I made a quick excursion across the border to Abbotsford for the air show.  I went for the evening show on the Friday rather than the day show.  The conditions were really nice for most of the show with the cloud rolling in only near the end of the proceedings.  Mt Baker is in the background across the border and provides a nice backdrop for some of the flying.  As the light got nicer, I wasn’t going to miss out on a couple of shots of the mountain with its cloud formations above the summit.

Another 727 Chance Before Sunset for Departure

The arrival just before sunset of a Kalitta 727 was the subject of a recent post.  It departed later that evening, but it was very dark by then and I didn’t hang around.  It wasn’t long before the jet was back again and this time it arrived a little earlier in the day.  That meant that there was a chance that they would depart before sunset.  That was something I was willing to take a chance on.  In the later evening, it is a quick jaunt to Paine Field from home.  Sure enough, they obliged by being prompt.  I had barely got there when the jet taxied.  The light was very nice, and they were flowing to the north so I was able to get a few shots, hop in the car and be home so fast that Nancy thought I must have blown off the idea altogether!

Sometimes Missing Sunset Is Not a Problem

The last 747 to be built was conducting test flights from Everett in advance of being delivered to Atlas.  It was due to get back from a test flight one evening and the timing looked good for a landing just before sunset.  Along with plenty of other photographers, I headed up to Paine Field to await its return.  As we tracked the flight, it was looking more and more like they would not get back before sunset.  A few people decided that this wasn’t worth the wait and headed off.  I figured I had made the effort so I was going to get a shot, even if the conditions weren’t any good.  I was there, after all.

Sure enough, the sun went down while we waited and a little while later, the familiar shape of the 747 appeared in the distance.  However, luck was going to be on my side this time around.  While the sun had now set, the higher-level clouds off to the west were now being illuminated from below turning them a warm red color.  The light from these clouds was now what was landing where we were and, as the 747 came down the approach, it had a warm and soft glow to it from the remnants of the day’s light.  Far from being a disappointment, this was actually really attractive.  What a lucky break for me and those that remained.