Plane spotting

It’s the first day of 2013 and I experience something new, thanks to Dermot who is very interested in aviation. It becomes a photography expedition, so I’m happy to visit a small street called Myrtle Avenue. It’s close to the runway of London’s Heathrow Airport, a popular spot for plane spotters to gather for amazing, close-up views of aircraft in flight.

You would imagine that taking shots of aeroplanes as they land is an easy task. They’re at close quarters and are pretty big. But I soon realised this was far from the truth. Planes travel very fast, even when they’re about to land. I’m used to largely still subjects and can spend a considerably long time framing and focusing before releasing the shutter – better known as slow photography.

This was hard, frustrating work. I completely missed a bunch of arrivals, had a host of blurred shots and didn’t quite hit the mark – see the shot of a British Airways airliner perched in a tree. But in the end I managed to pull off a few exposures and would quite like to return for more – perhaps when it’s a little warmer.

Click on first image to launch gallery

Late winter light

I couldn’t help turning my camera to this sumptuously backlit winter sky while waiting for the aircraft. It could be a countryside scene, only to the right of the shot is one of the busiest airports in the world…

7 thoughts on “Plane spotting

  1. Some lovely shots – well worth the blood, sweat and tears. Thinking about it, was it warm enough for sweat?!
    I particularly like the light in the first shot – warmer weather would need an earlier start/later outing! There’s always a downside :) I also like the composition of the one with the plane in the top left corner and trees in the foreground. It works really well, helped I think, by the plane’s direction of travel.


    • Thank you very much for your comments, Noeline, much appreciated as ever. It was more cold fingers and feet than any sweat! This runway begins its landing cycle at 2pm, so the window was quite narrow on a January day. I must say I found it quite difficult to be creative/artful with these shots… anything interesting happened by accident!


      • Difficult being creative when your challenge is basically subject and sky!
        Just a thought as I’m writing this …. assuming they don’t take off on exactly the same trajectory, I wonder how it would work if you had a series of tripod mounted shots and overlayed them later in PS to create a ‘take off montage’?


        • That’s an idea. It was unfortunate that I hadn’t worked out how to do multiple shutter release on my new camera which would have resulted in more shots and not several in isolation. Something to think about next time, thank you!


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