Distant Disappointments


That picture is symbolic of Saturday’s big jaunt out to the observation park at IAH, and of my mood in general. But more about my mood later. Let’s talk photography.


Those fairly blurry antenna-things in the distance mark the direction all those amazing planes fly in as they approach Runway 27, coming in as low as 100 feet over viewers’ heads. That is, when they approach Runway 27 to land, which they were definitely not doing this Saturday when my father and I drove roughly 55 miles out there to spot planes. Because everyone raves about all the action at the observation park, and because Runway 27 is considered one of the busiest runways at IAH, I never seriously considered the fact that it wouldn’t be used at all when we finally ventured out. But that’s exactly what happened.

Our view of the control tower, where I can only imagine everyone inside was looking out windows in the opposite direction, since there was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING approaching from ours.

Mind you, this was after agreeing to meet my father at a Pappasito’s for lunch on FM 1960 without realizing there were, in fact, TWO Pappasito’s restaurants on FM 1960, which is such a massive road that those two restaurants are about 40 miles apart. Guess who drove to the wrong one. Yep. So, our 11:00 AM lunch turned into a 12:00 PM lunch, with my poor dad sitting in a booth for an hour waiting for me to arrive (thank g-d he’s the most patient man on the planet and didn’t mind). It was nice to have lunch with him and spend some time, but I’d be lying if I said we weren’t both hugely disappointed not to see anything at the park. We saw loads of planes departing in the distance, some of which would turn and pass overhead, but they were already so high that one was indistinguishable from another, and all I could get was the underbelly of most of the planes. Add to this that the sky was cloudy and gray and taking photos of planes flying directly overhead does not make for a prime lighting situation, and you’ve got a ton of incredibly boring, disappointing photos on your hands.

busted dad
He’s smiling because he’s yet to realize we’ve been had.

This first one was the absolute best of the bunch, and if you’ve seen my other airplane shots you know how unimpressive this one is, to me if not to you anyway. I could barely make out the registration number on this one. And don’t be fooled by that sky either; this was the rare plane that came around behind us a bit, where the sky had patches of blue. Most of them zoomed right overhead where there was nothing but gray cloud cover.


That, my friends, is as close as I got all day, and of course I was zeroed in on that thing to maximum capacity to get that close. Mostly I got dark little silhouettes against a gray background, but using my Flightradar24 app and the metadata on my photos, I was later able to identify some of the planes I shot, even though they are indistinguishable from one other in the photos. Aside from loads of United planes (since IAH is their home base), I shot one Delta, two US Airways, two American Airlines, one Frontier Jet, and one SkyWest. I’m not too bummed about missing good shots of Delta or American Airlines planes, since I can get photos of those at HOU and already have some, but I’m seriously bummed you can barely see the photos I took of the Frontier Jet and can’t see details of the SkyWest at all.

Barely worth sharing, but there it is. And those clouds in the sky are fake; I Photoshopped them in just so the background wouldn’t be completely gray.

I just don’t know if it’s worth it to try and go out there again; after this experience and the length of the drive it’s certainly going to take a lot to get me to try when I can be at HOU in half the drive and won’t be out an entire day if I can’t get any decent shots of planes. The best I could do with what I shot today was seriously edit the hell out of them to make them worth looking at. Not at all what I wanted to be doing this evening, since my goal for planespotting is to take very sharp, clear, realistic photos of planes in motion, but since that wasn’t possible, well, I made some “plane art” with the crap I had to work with.

Kind of looks like a painting you’d see at a “starving artist’s sale.”

This is how the majority of my shots turned out – black silhouette shot directly overhead. The only thing that made this one interesting was the red lens flare, which was NOT Photoshopped.

I’m still so bummed about Saturday because I was really hoping a good planespotting photo haul would re-invigorate my energy for photography. I feel a little kicked down by the photography gods not to get the enthusiasm injection I really needed, but enthusiasm is something I’m sorely lacking across the board lately and I don’t think I can blame it all on bad pictures. I’ve been glum and lacking in energy for awhile now, and feel dissatisfied most of the time; it’s an overarching blue mood I’ve dealt with before but haven’t had to contend with for some time, although in looking back I see it’s been building for quite awhile, a couple of years in fact. I’m struggling more than I usually do to get myself turned around, and am wondering if it might be chemical or hormonal. Whatever it is, it’s unpleasant, and I’ve made some appointments to get medical input and possible assistance. I’d like to wake up in the morning with enthusiasm again, or at least not with a sense of boredom and dread (and please don’t tell me I need exercise and better nutrition, because I am aware of all that already and have been down all these roads before, so I already know how those components fit into the picture). I suppose the only reason I’m sharing this here today is due to my disappointment with a trip that was supposed to help lighten my mood and ended up doing the opposite, and chances are I’ll delete this last paragraph at some point due to embarrassment or irritation. But for now, it is what it is. Moving on.

Oh, and in case you were wondering (I know I was), those Port-O-Potties were surprisingly clean. At least that’s something!

13 thoughts on “Distant Disappointments

  1. Sorry about today’s misfortune. But there will be other days when the wind is blowing the right direction.
    So glad you have an appointment with a doctor. I hope all turns out well.
    May want to have your thyroid checked too. Not that I’m an expert, but been there done that. Low thyroid can be mistaken for depression. Again, been there done that.

    • It’s just such a long drive, it’s definitely made me gun shy to try again. And wouldn’t there be other symptoms with low thyroid, weight gain, etc? I seem to be losing a little not the other way around.

      • There are so many conflicting symptoms. I had my thyroid removed when I was 30 (cancer) and for years after I would go from high to low and the symptoms were never very consistent. I would go from hyper/shakey to dead tired all the time and have symptoms of depression, all within a few months.
        Lucky for me the little piece they left between the two lobes they removed grew over the years and started producing a normal amount of thyroid.
        Isn’t this interesting… No? Okay I’ll stop, I was trying to kill time trying to fall asleep. Have a nice day.

  2. Not that it will help, but I posted about a similar misadventure with my camera today. It put me in a glum mood last week. I have learned just to lie low during these periods and wait for it to pass, otherwise, I get worried that I am slipping into some sort of “state”. I think that thyroid advice is good, and it can also just be boredom. Maybe shopping? You always find such clever and funny signs and situations when you take the camera out impromptu. That said, I like what you did with the pictures and you are lucky to have such a nice dad.

    • I don’t really have much enthusiasm for shopping right now, or much of anything. Mostly I just wish i could stay home and be left alone. but I’ll figure it out. Saves my checking account at least!

      • Or just reprocess your personal portraits — I am sure revisiting those would be fun. Frankly, I am sorry they are off your photostream, they were incredibly imaginative. I would be inspired just recoloring or decoloring those.

        • You know, I’ve tried that and I don’t enjoy it at all. i tend to edit the ‘best’ right away and when I go back to do more, it’s never the shots I am really enthusiastic about, it’s always the stuff I find mediocre. I know selfies are what everyone wants me to see from me more than anything, but it takes a huge amount of time that I don’t have right now. I’m sure I’ve lost followers over it, but I’ve picked up a lot lately who like the other stuff I do so I guess it balances out.

  3. Everyone gets down, knowing you can’t shake yourself out of it and doing something positive about it has got to be a good thing. I’ve learnt such a lot from your posts about photographs and life in general I hope you get some energy back soon 🙂

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