I have been afforded adventures one dreams about but never experience. Good? Bad? Leaving on a jet plane to Saudi from DC, you get the sunset over Long Island and sunrise over Egypt. The hot desert is a jarring sight.
Almost immediately I can dive beneath the Red Sea and its wonderous color and fish. Indeed, that was spectacular and special.
And, there were plenty of stray cats, largely ignored and mostly starving. The desert is cruel and harsh. A sandstorm? Several happened. I rushed out to see it. Disappointment. It was not the sweeping storm of Laurence of Arabia. Nope, it was more like dusky fog. From my vantage and perspective, it was curiosity and not too intimidating. My bad.
… not really. I’m not professional, strictly amateur, as far as photography is concerned. I have sold an image or two. It was a mix of surprise and curiosity that I was contacted via my blog for use of an image. The request came via an unused link from an unused blog I had many years ago. I was suspicious of a scam. But, it turned out to be a legitimate request. The image in question was cropped from the original and used strictly in an internal memo. So, what the hell, they got it for free. Dumb, maybe. I got a credit for the use. Consider it a charitable donation. The image? It was the NYC Marathon Sunday crossing the Verrazano Bridge.
It’s a shame no one really cares about flying. That is to say no one flies with nose pressed to the window looking at the scenery passing below. I do. And there must be others like me. We were fortunate enough that the flight path crossed over NYC. And the cloud cover was not too bad. Not good, but not bad. We flew over my old house. Yeah, it’s too diffused to make it out. But… hey! For reference, that blank space is midtown and Central Park.
I’m just spinning back the image files to the year 2016. Nightfall, at 35,000 feet. I’m over Long Island headed back to the Middle East. The glow of lights below outlines civilization. There is no blankness in the landscape. I am amazed at the image. It’s not perfect. But, detail is there in the glow of sunset… enough to appreciate the curve of the earth?
Reality? Can you feel the heat of the desert? There are no trees… few. And the crowded streets. It’s barren and foreboding. It was a great adventure. I’m glad to be gone.
Before I belt in I have my camera on my lap. You never know. Gotcha! Yeah, you can get some interesting shots. Arresting. Be careful or you might be….arrested. But clouds never obscure your view of the sunrise or sunset. However, sometimes the clouds will help to make things more dramatic. You can’t get the shot if the camera is not in your hand. It’s ain’t photo lessons. It’s opportunity.
Everyone laughs when I take out my camera on a plane. It’s not good – the conditions. You are at altitude moving along at 500 mph shooting through scratched plexiglass with sunglare and cabin reflections. Try a night shot? Oh brother! It’s a slow shutter speed that will surely blur your image. “Every once in a while a blind squirrel gets a nut.” Never give up. I go with a shutter speed of 1/100 sec. Let the ISO run on auto. Press the shutter and hope for the best. Nuts! Yup!
This was my view landing in Jeddah. In the 11 o’clock position (in the traffic circle) is the world’s tallest flag pole. Yes! They made the traffic circle just for the flag. Urban planning? Yup! There is a traffic jam going ‘round that circle every single day and night that lasts for hours and hours. No one can complain to the king? When he goes through his motorcade has a path cleared by the police. It’s nice to be king. Oh! No trees either. There are lots of people.
And now, it gets dark at night. My weather changes. And at night it gets really dark! The view is unpolluted. There are lots of trees. I have to look closely to see any lights in the dark. Nice. I can do this for a while. Serenity. Don’t mess with mine.
This is an iconic sign in New Jersey across the Hudson River from Manhattan. It will likely remain a reminder of the past. No one seems to mind it staying. With all that is torn down and built over top, it seems that this sign will continue to be visible for the time being. In the same view you can catch the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. So this sign shares space with other icons in the Manhattan skyline.
This was my neighborhood for a long time. It is Manhattan. Charlie and I were returning from Rhinebeck. Ordinarily I would be handling the controls. But this time I was the photographer. I still have my nose pressed to the window of a passenger jet whenever I pass over NYC. But this one time we were over Manhattan and I had a perfect view.
I admit to three fantasies. Flying, diving, and jumping from an airplane with a parachute. The third is not an option any longer. I have finally decided to act my age and will pass. However both my kids jumped from an airplane in a tandem jump in different countries on different hemispheres within a week of one another unbeknownst that the other was doing it. Does the apple fall far…?
The pilots at the Rhinebeck air show are very experienced. Some, as in this case, are flying their own planes. The easy part is the flying. The interesting moments occur upon take off and landing. As I said the airfield is by no means smooth. So it requires a bit of skill and concentration to return safely. From a certain viewpoint it seems the planes are about to crash. But so far so good.
I love the googles. This old biplane did not go more than a few feet off the ground. It was too delicate to fly. So every week or so someone took the plane, taxied to one end of the field and flew a few feet off the ground for about ten seconds. It felt like Kittyhawk.
In order to maintain authenticity the biplane show at Rhinebeck used a grass field. It was sort of flat. At one end there was a nasty dip. And there was an uphill. From the other perspective it was a downhill made to help you gain takeoff speed. All in all it was not so even and a challenge to takeoff and land. I am told there have been accidents. But in all my visits there were only a few close calls.
It’s upstate New York and there is a grass airfield where on the weekends there is an airshow of old biplanes. I had the good fortune to befriend Charlie who flew a Bell 47 helicopter. So here we are hovering over the field in preparation to land and see the show. Nice entrance.
The grass field is just that. It is not paved. To make matters worse, the biplane are all pretty delicate. But in the interest of authenticity it was an unpaved ungraded field. At least the grass was short. But the landings were ever an adventure.
It’s upstate New York and on the weekends there is an airshow of old biplanes. I had the good fortune to befriend Charlie who flew a Bell 47 helicopter. So here we are hovering over the field in preparation to land and see the show. Nice entrance. Well, truth be told Charlie i hoovering and I am taking the shot because he moved the helicopter into position to be offering rides. I was his assistant. I told the patrons to keep their head low or risk a messy haircut. Everyone did as they were told. Imagine that!
It was a long flight, 17 hours, count’em, 17 hours. I was half asleep. On the plane they keep the shades down so others can sleep in the dark. Come to think of it they keep the curtains closed all day and night where I live in the Middle East. Must be something about the light? I peeked and there was a fairly spectacular dawn over some snow covered land and water. Greenland! It looked pretty neat and the sky was clear and cold. I didn’t seen any population. It appeared desolate, barren, and wind swept. And I could make out some icebergs floating. I recall these same icebergs might have been the ancestors of the ones that got the Titanic more than 100 years ago this April. As for me I think that this is as close as I will ever be to Greenland. So I’m glad I awoke in time to catch this.
I don’t know about you but anytime I fly I try to get a window seat. With online booking this is now an artful guessing game. The last step when booking is to pick a seat. I’ve flown in and out of many airports and especially NYC . I know the landing and takeoff patterns so I try to sit looking right or left to get a last view of the Manhattan skyline. Sometimes you are in the right spot. How anyone flies and barely looks out the window is a mystery to me. Coming into JFK at midnight I was disoriented but then I caught the lights of Manhattan. Right below the engine is midtown and the Empire State Building. Okay so it’s too dark to really catch anything in focus. Who cares? I’m not getting paid for the image. And the visual cortex can process things so much better than a digital camera. Nonetheless I can make out the Queensborough, Manhattan, Williamsburg, and the Brooklyn bridges. The pattern of street lights is pretty stunning in its own right. Yup, there I was nose pressed to the plexi-glass and loving it.
Red Bull. San Diego. The series. They happened to be staging the air races, a series, in San Diego. Lucky me. Looking at the series of images, this was a documented event but I didn’t really have the eye to catch a signature image. If I did it over again, I’d try some different things. I certainly keep evolving my photographic eye. It’s what’s fun. You’re always changing things.
Do they even say that anymore? But do you want to know what my fantasy has been? Yup, helicopter. Well, at least one… others – scuba, but you knew that. And the best would be to fly over your house and get an aerial. Silly, but fun. I had the good fortune to have made friends with Charlie. He had a Bell 47 (MASH, TV/Movie) helicopter. I had taken care of his mother while she was hospitalized. He invited me for a ride and the rest is history. Carol and Ginny were deadest against my adventure. Lisa didn’t want to know. (She knew I was going no matter what.) They were worried because helicopters crash. In fact I one day saw a helicopter crash. I was driving up the Westside highway and a helicopter dropped down over the Intrepid Space Museum (aircraft carrier). I didn’t know you could land on the ship. They didn’t. The pilot and air traffic reporter were both killed by a catastrophic engine failure. I’m still here after many many hours in Charlie’s ‘ship.’
It’s always fun to see where you live from a plane. The two large buildings under construction (middle left) are on Thalia St. Following Thalia St, on the upper right is another large building. And to the left is the compound where I live. They are low-lying white two story buildings. Yeah, I can see home from the plane. And, no…, you can’t see if I made my bed.
The large towers spewing smoke are supposed to be the desalinization plants. The cost must be staggering. But oil is cheap. After they make water, large tanker trucks deliver it each day. No one seems to drink it. Everyone buys bottled water. Go figure.
The island to the left belonged to a deceased king. No one lives there now except a caretaker staff of about 1000. Someone will get possession and it will be nice to have your own island in the harbor. About the closest vantage is the Hilton Hotel across the way( the tall building to the right). And King Fahd’s fountain is also there but it’s not turned on in the afternoon.
I learned a great Photoshop trick from Julia to cut the haze. We used it on the underwater shots. And in this image, it sure worked on the afternoon haze. It’s about as good a shot as you could get of the tower since it is not close into shore and therefore I am about as close as you can be if you’re not in a boat.
I understand the topography better now. I was on the side of the jet ideal for aerial shots. The building to the right of the park (near center) is my hospital. We’re about 5000 feet up so it’s not sharp. And, there’s jet wash from the engine. But, at least I can pick up landmarks now. “Toto, we’re not in Kansas…”
We just completed a boat dive last week. Leaving the harbor we went due west into the Red Sea for about seven miles. I watched the GPS, otherwise I’m not so smart. But on the water all you see is a blue horizon, while from the air I can now appreciate all the coral reefs. It makes sense that there are a number of ship wrecks to explore. Without a good chart you will be in big trouble around these parts.
I waited for the first glimpse. Even at 600 mph it’s a long wait from the Nile to the Red Sea crossing. Here it is just as we leave Egypt. All I could think was that Charlton Heston (Moses) parted a whole lot of water in that movie.