Icy Airplane Mode

It’s been awhile since I took some in-flight pictures from an airplane.  This is largely due to the fact that I’ve been sitting in the exit row for the last many flights, which is directly over the wing.  Nobody wants to see a bunch of shots of an airplane wing.  Wouldn’t we rather look down on winter landscapes?

For a couple of trips now, I’ve sacrificed the legroom of the exit row and sat a little further forward in the cabin, so I at least had a chance of getting some shots.  Still, it takes a relatively clean window (all of the several panes need to be free of gunk) and little or no cloud cover.  All of the images here were taken on the same flight from Seattle to Detroit.  These aren’t sunrise shots, but it was still morning light.  As usual, I was sitting on the port side of the aircraft which, since we were flying east, means the camera was pointing north.

I like this icy river image.  I like that it’s not quite totally frozen over.  I like the bends and the crags.  I like the juxtoposition of the man-made fields (the squares and circles) with the natural randomness of the river’s shape.  Before you ask, I do not know what river this is.  I can tell you that all of these images were taken over Montana or one of the Dakotas.  I think this one is over Montana.  If it looks familiar to you, please send me a note and let me know what the name of it is.

This scene I like because the physical features look like veins to me.  Perhaps “veiny” is not the first adjective a landscape photographer wants to hear when someone describes their work, but, whatever.  There’s a joke about having ice in one’s veins in here somewhere, so that’s good enough for me.

This might not be the strongest image ever, but there is a chance that the line in the upper third is the actual border between North and South Dakota.  Go ahead, look at a map; this is what the border looks like.  I’m basing this on what the in-flight map was showing me at the time.  The little picture of our plane was directly over the border, and, sure enough, when I looked outside the window this is what I saw.

As you can see, the clouds started rolling in toward the end of our flight.  Before they completely obscured the view, I got this one that shows clouds, clear sky and the shadow from a different bank of clouds that’s off-camera.  The depth of field here (shot at f/8) gives almost a miniature look to the scene.  If you follow the link and view it as big as your monitor will allow, it might almost look like an optical illusion.  This look could probably be achieved with Photoshop trickery, but this particular image is pretty much what things looked like at the time.

BONUS IMAGE:  As most of you know, my destination is almost always Indianapolis, Indiana.  As luck would have it, on the day I departed Indy to return home, a fairly famous person flew in for a couple hours to talk about education or something.  Normally I would never publicly show such a shakey image, but I figure I probably won’t have very many opportunities to even see this thing, let alone take a picture of it.  It was parked way out there at the Indianapolis airport.  When the PA system told us there might be an interruption in services while a special guest arrived, I made my way to the end of the terminal.  A small group had gathered with their iPhones to snap some pictures when I said, “Excuse me while I whip this out.”  I had my 70-200mm lens hooked up to a 2x teleconverter for a total of 400mm of focal length.  Even then, this image is severley cropped (I told you it was parked WAY out there).  400mm is tripod-distance, especially when shooting through thick airport-glass, but I was one tripod short at the time.  So, those are my excuses for showing this somewhat blurry image.


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