Aerial NYC

Technical: Panasonic DMC Z57, 1/400 sec, f4, focal length 4.1

Taking pictures from an airplane is tricky. Most people don’t do it. If you don’t, please give up your seat to someone who will do it. It’s a shame that people take flying so casually that they don’t even look out the window. “Turn off all electronics in preparation for landing!” commands the flight crew. Ever wonder why? The signal of a cellphone trying to communicate with a cell tower can interfere with the radio transmission to the plane. It is interference at close range like about 3 feet. Therefore, there is little chance that I could create any problem. There is a basic rule that my seat assignment is always at the back of the plane no matter how hard I try to get a seat closer to the front. And if that’s the case, there can certainly be no interference from a camera. But I have been told to turn mine off and put it away. So, my strategy is to wait until the cabin crew is seated for landing and then pull out the camera and start clicking. Shooting from a double pane of glass, which is etched by weather is enough to make your lens cry. No sharpness of lens can make up for this. But with an image at least you have something to work with in Photoshop. Add contrast, color correct, increase saturation and you can make something from nothing. Sometimes right out of the camera you have a good image. To keep the wing or not is the other conundrum. Some do and others don’t. I usually try to keep the wing out.

Here is an iconic photo of New York that cousin David shot. I can even pick out the location of my apartment on the Westside. (I’m not home.) Exposure’s good, clouds, wing, it’s all good and the image really comes together nicely. You’re at about 3000 feet and it’s a good image of the city without losing detail from being too high. Good shot. Landing and take off are the times I’m always camera ready. In between, the Rocky Mountains and other such land marks make great patterns at 35,000 feet. And watch the clouds. Some thunderheads are fairly impressive. At night lightning is good too.

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Helicopter, Verrazano Bridge

I am coordinating today’s post with my other blogs and will talk about helicopters there also. (see the sidebar Blogroll for locations.)

Technical: slide film, settings not recorded.

This is one of the iconic bridges of New York City. It was built during my lifetime. But, like so much history, I was too young and too oblivious to appreciate the change. The bridge essentially connected Staten Island to New York City. Heretofore, the island was more a part of New Jersey by proximity and Jersey bridge connections. The photo is grainy. The lighting is grey and foreboding. You can see the raindrops on the helicopter bubble in the lower right. The bridge tower in the foreground is balanced by the light in the clouds, which leads the viewer’s eye toward the other tower. There are many ways and angles in which this shot could have been made. With film, at that time, I was much more conservative with experimenting with settings and exposure. The cost of film, development, and the mere act of changing out a roll of film in flight were all in play. Continue reading