We’ll soon be headed to North Carolina to be with the family again. I’ve been fortunate to have travelled by air a great deal in my time. I always sit by the window and I never pull the shade down. Some don’t like that because it ruins their movie! I can rent those kinds of movies for a buck or less but the “movie” I see out the window is nearly always remarkable.
I enjoy making photographs through the window too. I rarely do anything out of the ordinary and I’ve gotten, among many bad images, some astounding ones. I typically use the short end of my 70-300mm zoom in the center of the window where there is less distortion. I also always select my seat with care to minimize sun glare and to see what I want to see. I don’t worry about shutter speed, but certainly keeping it faster than 125th second and concentrating on begin steady, works best. Of course there are many airplane windows that are totally abraded and impossible and there are times when the clouds are complete, gray and pretty boring.
The opening image on my website is one that really blew my mind when I processed it. I was headed home from Puerto Rico, saw this scene far below as we headed in over the Keys and managed to make two quick images before it was gone. I find it essential to have my camera in hand and ready to go. While I don’t look out the window 100% of the time, when the scenery is of interest, I’m constantly checking and looking ahead for what might be coming. I also carry a small map and typically find it very easy to know what we are/will be flying over.
Often I can’t see the ground or conditions are not great so I turn my attention to the clouds, sun and moon. On a recent flight I was fortunately to see moon dogs—a very unusual event! Clouds are so often simply marvelous, especially at sunset—if you are the correct side of the plane! Sometimes it feels like I can just reach out and touch them. Wow. And few things in life are more beautiful than a new or full moon rising or setting in a crystal clear sky seen from an airplane seat.
My friend Julia posted a comment about a remarkable aerial photographer, Yann Arthus-Bertrand. If you are unfamiliar with his work, please take a look. He has long been an inspiration to me, especially when I’m in the air!