Plane and Simple

So, here was my thought process this morning: I really should take some pictures today, it’s been awhile…I’m not in the mood to shoot any doll shots, though, OR get dressed up for self-portraits…it’s a gorgeous day out, I should get out today, maybe take Sherbet with me and do some weird doll shots out in the open…nah, I really don’t have any ideas for that right now, and I’m not in the mood, but I hate to waste this lovely day and all that great lightOMGAIRPLANES!!!


As usual, forgot to film with my iPhone in landscape mode, so skinny framing once again. I’ll never get that right, will I?

I called up my handy-dandy FlightRadar24 app, and sure enough, IAH was definitely using the runway across from the observation area. In fact, they were using the hell out of it, so I got my gear together and headed out. It was the perfect day for planespotting – not quite 60 degrees, a little breeze but not too windy, bright winter light, and just enough clouds in the sky to create interest in the pictures. Traffic was manageable, and I made it to the parking lot by 1:30 PM (slight delay caused by getting lost, which is par for the course with me). The only downside was my father could not join me; he’s been wanting to go back out there, but he couldn’t come along this time. Too bad, because there were a lot of people plane-watching and tons of air traffic to boot. Ah well. As I’ve learned, it’s hard to plan ahead for this sort of thing too much because you have to be sure the airport is going to use the proper runway in order to see much of anything, and that can’t be determined even a day ahead of time (at least, not that I can figure out). So, it’s a spur-of-the-moment thing, which certainly makes it harder to bring others along for the ride.

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Lots of families there watching the planes

Each time I do this, I learn a bit more, so this time I kept myself calm so as not to go home with eight thousand photos of the same damn plane (in this case it would be United, when spotting at HOU it’s Southwest Airlines) only to run out of space on my CF card when something different finally shows up. And, I tried to get some interesting shots and unique perspectives, rather than just making getting the entire plane in the frame at least once as it passes by my entire goal. However, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t screw a few things up: I should have parked my car on the other side of the lot to at least attempt shooting on the same side as the sun, but I’m not sure it would have mattered; as it is, the sun was behind the planes which created some awkward lighting situations I’ll have to try and repair in editing. Also – and this was the big one – next time I need to remember to CHECK MY LENS and give it a quick cleaning before shooting; this is a totally unique screw-up to have, but believe it or not, there was a dang WIG HAIR stuck to the lens the entire time I was shooting! So far I’ve been able to edit it out of the shots I’ve processed in Photoshop, but honestly when I first pulled up the photos on my computer I nearly had a heart attack, thinking there was a huge scratch on my lens. Imagine my relief to discover it was just a strand of synthetic hair. Still, it’s a pain to get out of the shots, plus it obviously got blown around by the wind because throughout the shoot it moved all over the place. And, it totally ruined the video I tried to take with my 7D, not that it was much good anyway (you have to use Live View to film video, and in the bright sun I could NOT see at all what I was filming, so I just pointed the camera in the direction of the planes and hoped for the best). And no, I could not see that hair on the lens at all while shooting, even when stopping to chimp my shots – again, it was too bright to get a good look at them outside.

If you’d like an example of how it looks to have a wig hair stuck to your lens, well, here you go (I have no idea how to edit video beyond the free Movie Maker that’s on my hard drive, so I lack the skill to edit the hair out):


Obviously, there’s a lot more wrong with video than the wig hair – and damn, it looks like there were two of them!

I did catch some new planes while I was there (new for me anyway), although some of them were using a different runway and I could only get very distant, rather grainy shots. Still, I managed to snap a Volga-Dnepr Russian cargo plane, a Lufthansa, and a Singapore Airlines off in the distance, flying in over some trees and an airport hotel. Up close the big winner of the day was a huge British Airways double-decker 747-400 – it came by quickly, of course, and it was hard to get it all into the frame, but I think I got a few good ones of it as it passed by. I also got up-close and personal with Spirit Air, AeroMexico, and an American Eagle. So far, I’ve only processed an American Eagle shot:

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I didn’t get the color quite right, because with the sun behind the plane it came out a bit dark and I tried to lighten it the best I could, but it made the tone a little warm and I spent some time trying to cool it down; not sure I totally succeeded, but for what it’s worth, there it is. I’m almost nervous to work with the rest of the shots, because I got so excited every time something other than a United jet flew by that I may have gotten a little twitchy and screwed something up. But I think I can get at least one decent shot per interesting plane, along with some close-ups of the cockpit or the underbelly on the plane that I tried to do. Oh, and I could also get some nice landing shots this time from behind the plane; the angle of the runway to the observation area at Hobby makes that impossible, but here it can be done since we’re directly behind it:

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I wanted some people shots for perspective; I mainly liked the reflection in the puddles on this one, and the sky, not to mention the kid holding his arms out like a plane. In other words, I guess I like all of it.

Obviously there will be more to come; you’re either looking forward to it or already planning to avoid my blog for the next week or two. Sorry! I loves me some planes. And today’s jaunt was just what I needed; not feeling like setting up anything for a shoot + needing to get the hell outside and enjoy a pretty day = photographer satisfaction. Here’s looking at another, week, folks; hope you have a good one!

3 thoughts on “Plane and Simple

  1. I converted the two “people shots” into B&W in Photo Ninja, and then to get that particular tone I used Topaz’s Re-Style – the filter was called “Silver and Ivory Cloak” under the Landscape category (not sure if Re-Style is one you have, but I think so). I just used a touch of it because I liked what that hint of green did to the whites in the photo. And yes, I was pretty upset when I thought that lens was damaged! So thank goodness it was just a wig hair. As far as puddles, yeah, we’ve getting a LOT of rain down here. Guess we’re getting all of yours too.

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