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Two Boeing’s, One Moon & A Sunrise

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There are only a few days a year that an image like the one shown above can be obtained with the actual sun behind the tower. The odds are stacked against me as the first week of October is usually poor as in terms of weather. It takes the sun about 4 or 5 days to move from one side to the other at sunrise. The only other opportunity is in early February and once again, at this time of year the weather will either be dull, dark, cloudy and wet or even snowing; or clear sky and no clouds.

Yesterday was very cloudy, but as we all know, the best sunsets and sunrises come with clouds. I chose to stay at home despite glancing out of the window and missed an ideal opportunity. Fridays sunrise was sent packing. This morning I was prepared. I had checked the weather and was ready for a clear frosty morning and the possibility that I would even have to de-ice the car. If you have looked at some of my sunrise images you will know that I like to combine my love of low-light photography with my other passion of aviation. A sunrise shot with a departing aircraft in my opinion, is an awesome spectacle.

It was dark when I left the house at 06:15 and after de-icing the car headed the 1.38 kilometres to my location of choice. From my position near the Cemetery at the end of the runway you have an uninterupted view to the South, South East and East. The weather forecasters had got it spot on this morning; the sky was cloudless apart from half a dozen partially formed vapour trails pointing east; these became apparent at the paling of the sky and glowed orange. The trails were all the early morning inbound flights to mainland Europe from America and Canada and were illuminated at their high altitude by the inconspicuous rising sun.

Aircraft were departing from the airport and creating nice plumes of spray from the wheels on the damp runway. This is always a great opportunity for a couple of shots but with such low light the quality is never going to be high. Based on this information I chose to make the images just like that…Grainy and gravelly. I adjusted the camera controls and made sure the Image stabilizers were switched on and fired off a few frames. My expectations were not high but if you set your standards based on knowledge and experience then you wont be disappointed with your results. There was a Crow sat in the tree next to the cemetery as all I could hear was Caaaw Caaw Caaaw..I looked round and saw it silhouetted against the moon..Great shot went through my mind.. in near darkness, now that’s a challenge. Never to turn down a challenge I lifted the camera and before I could say cheese it was off. I was left with a shot of the trees and the moon. Now, before I decided to drop this image in to the recycle bin looking at it again made me think twice, it had a peculiar feel to it, almost haunting. On that basis I decided edit to the best of my ability and keep it.

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The sun slowly began to emerge from behind a mass of distant cloud. An orange glow started to form as the sun rose above the distant bank. It was apparent that the images were going to be nothing special this morning as they were very few flights today and the sky was bland. Time to move on to plan B and think of alternatives.

Plan B in my world, is making something out of very little. The sun had started to rise a lot further to the left of the control tower than I had hoped but this wasnt really unexpected. It was a very dull orange as a result of the atmosphere. We all know that sun light is composed of seven colors — Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange and Red. In the mornings and evenings, when the sun is near the horizon, the rays have to travel about fifty time’s longer path in the atmosphere to reach us than it does in the noon. The dust, smoke and water vapour present in the atmosphere scatter away these colors differently. Violet, indigo and blue are scattered most and red and orange are scattered least. That is why most of these two colors reach our eyes. As a result, the rising and setting sun appears red. I now had the problem of finding suitable foreground for a decent image. When you are stood on high ground this really does present a problem. In the past I have used trees, fences, gravestones (a last resort) and even sheep for silhouettes but today was going to be a none starter. The only item of interest I could use was a bank of trees to the North-East of the terminal building. I even decided to keep the rising sun slap bang centre too… It really was a bland and uninteresting sunrise. I tried to squeeze something out of another shot just down the road with a view over the terminal and control tower but it was fruitless. I will post a link to my images very shortly. Thanks for reading…..Comments welcome as always.

Leeds Bradford Airport | 28th February – Shooting in to the sun grrrr

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