Recent Aerials - Exploring the Square Format
29 Aug 2010
I've always enjoyed photographing from the airplane window when I travel. Some of the first images I put up on JPG were of that kind, and the JPG team was kind enough to publish them (you can see them at http://jpgmag.com/stories/1676 if you'd like).
When I started moving more and more to the square format almost a year ago, I got away from that subject matter. It didn't seem like square framing would lend itself to aerials. But recently I decided to see if I could make it work after all.
One of the things I love about aerial images is that they're so challenging to get. You need the right seat, to have some luck with the condition of the window or to find ways to work around it, and of course you never know whether there will be anything to photograph at all. So you have to be attentive and prepared to react very quickly since, if an interesting scene does in fact present itself, it will go by VERY quickly. I really enjoy putting myself in that state of relaxed awareness, followed by total concentration during the short window of time that images are there to be recorded.
Another challenge is post-processing. The raw files I get out of the camera are typically low-contrast and bluish, and not what I remember seeing at the time I pressed the shutter. I believe that's because, during the flight, the eye and brain adjust and compensate for the airplane window and the atmospheric haze below it, but the camera doesn't. So the challenge is to enhance the image -but not too much. It's very tempting to push the contrast or saturation slider just a bit farther, as the image becomes more and more dramatic and eye-popping with every notch. I'm not saying that's wrong, but it's not my aesthetic - what I was privileged to actually see is what I want to share.
These images are from flights on April 7, May 10-11 (crossing the date line) and June 19 of this year. I've tried to reproduce as faithfully as possible the sights that took my breath away, without yielding to the temptation of embellishing them.
They all read better at the larger size, so I recommend clicking on the links I've provided to the "On Black" site, which shows the image about twice as large.
Many, many thanks to JPG for making this the story of the week for week 41, and to all the kind friends who nominated the story for that honor, most recently Paul Lavallee http://jpgmag.com/people/mylatehope