Window Seat

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Amy and I were returning from a short trip to Phoenix, and unlike my usual preference, I took the window seat. I had my trusty Fuji XT-4 with me and decided to attempt a few shots. The time of day was not great for photography, the sun was high and it was a bit hazy, to be candid, I wasn’t hopeful. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I have done several aerial assignments from a helicopter, in a harness, leaning out of the aircraft with a gyro stabilizer attached to the camera to minimize vibrations. That rig and a great pilot, Steve Bussman in Manassas, Virginia, accounted for the spectacular aerial images of Washington, D.C. in my book. This experience was the antitheses to those, shooting through a dirty, scratched window, handholding the camera close to the window to avoid distortion while the plane accelerates, banks and bounces around with a bit of turbulence. Try keeping the horizon level in those conditions.  

Once airborne, things got a bit more interesting, I did get a shot of Phoenix, a nearby mountain range and some cloud formations over the Everglades as we prepared to land in Florida. All in all, not bad for those conditions. In fact, good enough that I might start taking the window seat on a regular basis.

If you also like taking photos from airplanes, to minimize distortion, try not to shoot on an angle through the double glazed windows. Shooting before the plane hits cruising altitude, within the first 5 minutes or so after takeoff will also help your photos. If you are taking an early morning or late afternoon flight on a clear day you will get warmer light and longer shadows in the morning and beautiful blue light in the evening. If you are fluent in Lightroom or Photoshop, you can make adjustments to the image and end up with something you might actually frame and hang on your wall. Do remember however, you are shooting through two panes, scratched and dirty and that will affect the sharpness of your photos. So don’t expect a pristine image.

One last hint. If you are shooting with a camera that accepts filters, use a polarizing filter to cut some of the reflections in the window and depending on the time of day and angle to the sun, you may also enhance the contrast and color in your images. I had not planned this little project so my polarizer was packed away, next time, it will be in my bag. Now if I can get my hands on a small gyro stabilizer …   

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