I’m one of those people. Even though I have little control over position, angle, timing, framing – y’know, the things that actually contribute to a decent photograph – I just can’t help myself. I’m a window seat photographer.
Though I’m forced to shoot through dirty, foggy, and/or scratched plexiglass, there’s just something undeniably alluring to the views one sees only while aboard an aircraft. I never consider photography when booking my flights, so it’s a pleasant treat when I wind up taking off during sunrise or when the clouds are especially puffy.
I also love leaving out of PDX. Aside from it being an awesome airport and our having a strange fascination with the carpet, we commonly see half a dozen peaks while rising to our cruising altitude. And I look forward to seeing good ‘ole Mt. Hood on my way back as a sign that I’m home. How do you pass up the opportunity to shoot these beautiful mountains from the sky?
Since I have little control over what I’m shooting out that small oval window, I like to experiment sometimes in the way I shoot. Do I frame the shot with the window itself? Do I crop out the omnipresent wing? (Because – let’s face it – we always have that blasted wing in the way.) How do I not shoot the same thing every time? Sometimes the variety is intentional; sometimes it’s happenstance.
I flew out to Yosemite earlier this year just after a major snowstorm. The city was shut down, and everything was locked under an inch of ice. (The train that was supposed to take me to the airport that morning also happened to get stuck behind another that derailed (due to ice) and shut down our entire light rail system for the day, and the city was still comatose when I got back a week later; it was a nasty storm.) This meant our plane was doused in deicer just before departure.
I loved the colors of the dawn outside and attempted to capture it. Unfortunately, my phone (the only camera I had available at the time) insisted on focusing on the streaks of deicer instead of the scene behind them. But then I thought: “hey, that actually looks kinda cool; let’s go with it!”
I finally managed to focus past the window, but I found I actually liked the lines of liquid better. Sometimes inspiration is accidental, even at 36,000 feet. So, though I might earn a few eye rolls, I’ll be keeping my camera close by when I’m in that window seat.
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