Sunday, April 09, 2006

Capturing the journey

I learned early on that the journey is often as - if not more - important than the destination. How we get somewhere is an important part of the experience of being away.

I ofen read stories about the early days of commercial aviation, and I am struck by the degree of romance that was attached to this then-nascent form of travel. It was a huge deal to go anywhere on a plane. Service mattered. The people who worked for airlines were respected. Pilots were worshipped.

Fast forward to today and the airline industry can rightfully be described as fractured. Massive, long-term financial hardship has forced airlines to cut service to the bone. Staff members are no longer revered as they once were. Instead, they're just as likely to scowl at you as you settle into your cramped seat beside the less-than-floral washroom.

Dining aloft has devolved from full-course meals served on real plates to $5 boxed lunches that may or may not have been packed last week in a faraway land.

But somewhere in this post-deregulated world, I still find some amount of joy in transiting long distances in a plane. Airplanes are kinda cool, after all. These hugely expensive examples of leading-edge technology are fascinating to watch. Whether they're being loaded on the ground or being firewalled as they scream off the runway and grope for altitude, it's clear that these machines are not your father's Oldsmobile.

With that in mind, many of my in-transit photos often focus on the shapes of these machines.

The out-the-window image was about as lucky a shot as I've ever taken. We were pulling into our gate at Logan when I first spotted the aircraft approaching overhead. I turned the camera on, hoping to grab the shot. Digital cameras are notoriously very slow to start up. I pointed the camera up and held the shutter down, hoping against hope that the thing would wake up before the aircraft sailed past us. It just made it. Somehow, the plane didn't blur as it sped overhead, either. Luck.

Only after did I realize I had also gotten the control tower into the image. Sometimes, the stars simply align.

Similarly, the second picture resulted from my fatigue on the way home. I had been randomly pulled out of line by the security screeners. OK, maybe it wasn't random. Perhaps they were ticked that I took a flash picture of my Po doll just before my luggage went into the scanner. I was wanded, frisked, patted down, and generally made to feel like the criminal that my high school English teacher always thought I'd become.

After my hands-on episode with Louie the gloved TSA security agent, I was somewhat rattled. I gathered my stuff and walked with a colleague to the gate. As I was looking down most of the way, I noticed subtle images of aircraft on the floor. I was intrigued, and not just because I thought it would look neat in my kitchen. I knew I needed to shoot them, but close-up images in the middle of a heavily-travelled airport corridor would not be easy. I didn't care.

When we got to the gate, I dropped to the floor, pulled out my camera and started composing the macro images. People stopped and stared. One lady looked up from her laptop and played 20 questions with me. Everyone seemed happy: things like this never happened in airports. When I was done, I showed some interested folks the images on the camera's screen. They all agreed it was cool - the reflected lights made it look like it was rolling along a runway. I bet it made for interesting conversation at a few dinner tables across the nation that evening.

Once again, I was lucky. I should carry this thing in my pocket more often.

Your turn: The luckiest image you ever captured was...?

31 comments:

colleen said...

Hi Carmi,
The last time I traveled I felt like the pilots were like truck drivers just hauling goods back and forth. Yes, air travel has lost some of its romance.

I hope you enjoyed Boston...my home city.

Favorite image...my husband took it of me climbing up a spiral rock staircase in a castle in Ireland. The stone has moss growing or algae growing on it and it looks like I'm down in a green well. Some shots just don't translated while others surprise you and do!

came via michele's.

colleen said...

PS...excellent photos!

Lazy Daisy said...

Great story and wonderful pictures. I always carry my digital in my purse for those "Kodak inspired moments". My photos are never really dramatic but some times capture a person's true nunance! Keep those stories coming!

-E said...

I got a picture of the Queen and Prince Charles driving by in their car. A friend and I were crossing the street and I saw a car that I felt was deserving of a photo. That night, on the news we learned that the Queen and Charles had been where we were headed. I had joked about maybe having gotten a picture of them. Since it was a disposable camera, I had no idea if the car was blurry or not. Upon developing the photos, I saw that it was the Queen and Charles. Not only that, Charles was picking his nose. I really should get it scanned and on my computer one of these days :)

Michele sent me.

FuzzBuck Fuzz said...

Michele sent me back to mention I'm not a photographer of any kind, so have no excellent images I've caught except in my head. Ah well.

Star said...

That would be this one:

http://static.flickr.com/39/125821468_440ff0cd7e_b.jpg

actually taken by my husband on a snorkeling expesition in Aruba.

here by way of Michele at the moment

Amused Observer said...

luckiest image? last summer, i was taking a picture of a butterfly that had landed on a lily. the butterfuly began to fly away the moment i touched the shutter, and i thought i blew it. when i downloaded the picture to my computer, i discovered a wasp had flown to the lily while the butterfly was caught in the act of flying. one of the coolest pictures i ever took.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Loved that image when I saw it on your Flicker thingy...I didn't realize it was in the floor!! GREAT! I would love to travel with you Carmi, because the two of us would be shooting away constantly, and having a ball!

I cannot pinpoint one image over another right at the moment...sometimes I feel like almost every photo I take is a lucky convergence, you know? I'll have to give it some more thought.
I can think of a wonderful image that was taken of me...It is still my very favorite photograph of me, ever! Taken by an old friend out on a hill in Malibu--He was so proud of it he had it blown up for me...Beautiful photograph if I do say so myself.

I think traveling now is such a trial. Whatever 'romance' there was in flying is absolurely gone, gone, gone. It's like riding a Subway in the Air now! UGH!

Annie said...

You know... I've never been in a plane. Never flown anywhere in fact. How sad is that? Something I aim to rectify asap although I pity the person who'd be sitting next to me... ooooohing and ahhhhing and probably bouncing around on my seat like a little kid at 37!

But back on topic! Picture wise it would have to be a shot of my eldest daughter in a new dress... then seeing that I'd also captured my youngest's first steps in the background. Very cool!

Here from Blue Monkey Jammies by way of Michele's :)

Rene said...

I hate flying, always have. I'm not phobic, just don't like the feeling plus I seem to get a sinus infection everytime. The airport security makes it even less enjoyable. But...it is the easiest way to get to Hawaii, so I will continue to fly. Love your pictures.

I suppose my favorite image would be one of a Maui sunset. It is very tough to mess up a Hawaiian sunset, but I have a couple where the people in front were mere silhouettes and the sky was blazing red.

Been here before but it's been awhile.

keda said...

they are both great pics- i love the floor!

the butterfly porn on my last post was quite lucky. and most of my self portraits scream luck.

the most unlucky one i have of me is when i went to the grand canyon with my ex husband when we first met.... it was at sunset and he and a group of young people were all taking lots of pictures of me. i was wearing a beautiful vintage white cotton sundress and the wind was blowing my hair at the cliff edge so i was looking quite shotworthy i guess... anyway. just as i said "ok guys last one", my ex husband to be framed a close up of my face and one young man stepped back to get the full image... and suddenly the wind lifted my dress in true marilyn fashion to reaveal to the world that i was pantless!
the young guy got it, the whole group saw except my man who'd got me screaming/laughing in close up! i have that picture around here somewhere.

i'm amazed that i've never seen the other on the internet anywhere... i can only assume it didnt come out!

keda said...

oops sorry here via michele again!

surcie said...

Before I read the post, when I had only glanced at the photo, I thought I was seeing a 3-dimensional plane on a runway! Carmi, you see things other people miss--on lots of levels.

Radioactive Jam said...

Hello, Michele sent me -
These are great photos.

Jets *are* cool; even knowing it's just "physics" I'm amazed how these behemoths take off, fly and land with such style.

Glad you survived your encounter with Louie; too bad you were singled out.

im chele in [dot] la said...

oh my god I love that picture..
its the greatest..
and how can those screeners thing that a picture isn't importante'

Karen said...

I have an adorable photo of my dog as a very young puppy, sound asleep on my son's grimy gym shoes, framed by a hardwood floor. I still love it and have it framed in my living room.

Thanks for stopping by. I can't imagine how you can drop everything and "shoot." I'd be way too self-conscious.

Here via Michele's. Hope you're on your way or almost home.

Claire said...

I love those images they are fantastic. I have a fascination with planes and travel and agree that generally the service is pretty appalling. I did hit lucky with the service on my flight to the States last year, it was fantastic service, fantastic food and a fantastic flight...can't ask for more on an 8hr trek across the Atlantic!!

The luckiest shot I've ever had is one I took in Dallas, it's of a Well. I'd been taking advice from a friend who is a fantastic photographer and decided to give some of her tips a go (I am not good with a camera). I managed to get some OK shots that day but the one of the Well I just loved. It was definitely more luck than skill. I don't know how to pay attention to the light or distance or composition but they all just managed to fall right for this one picture...I'm very proud of it!

Goodbye Mes Amis said...

Ohhhh that is a tough one. Lucky? I'm having a hard time thinking about it. One of my favourite portraits was one I took in first year of art school when my negs still had a 50% chance of working out or not. It was my friend with her mother. Her mother is Inuit and had deep lines cutting her face that look so wonderful caught on film.
here from Michele's.

keda said...

check out this site: http://soulclipse.com/soulclipse.html

its the site of the festival we went to and if you go to their links there are quite a lot listed....

it was a real eye opener for me too... but so much fun, friendly happy people with great dance music, the lets LOVED the whole experience. it was like disney without the c**p!

Me said...

Carmi,

You commented on my blog, so I'm returning the favor, but not about pictures. Just a question. Don't you think after traveling so much, the airport can actually be a place where things come together before going to the next destination? Saying good-bye to one place, while preparing for the next. It can be easier to do there, because most airports are basically the same: lots of stores and windows, restrooms, places to sit and gather our things and thoughts.....
I guess in the days of travel by ship, a person had much longer to go through this process. Today we have a couple of hours. Unless we get bumped. :)

Have a good one. Great blog. I've bookmarked it!

Thumper said...

I don't think I've ever gotten any really lucky shots. I've felt lucky for getting some nice shots, but they were planned and there was nothing moving that could have ruined it, other than my own hands.

I'm hoping tht once I get a digital SLR I'll have better luck at those good shots of the cats, who never seem to sit still...

Here via Michele's!

rob said...

I can't think of any shots of my own that timed serendipitously. There is, however, a shot of one of my uncles, limbs akimbo, in mid air, vaulting over a one-and-a-half year old Robbie that absent mindedly wandered into the middle of a backyard football game.

I've often tried to reconstruct how that shot came to be. It's one of those pictures that seems almost staged because the timing was so perfect. What was the photographer (my mother) shooting? Was if the game? If so, why is the camera focused on me? Was she shooting me? If so, why was she taking a picture of me about to get trampled instead of SAVING MY ASS?

Boggles the mind.

And I fiercely dig the pic of the plane inlaid into the marble. The light reflections truly make it.

Amy said...

Wow. Great pictures!
I've never had my camera around for pics like that, but maybe I need to rethink that.
Great writing too.

Here via Michele today.

Nic said...

Excellent pics my friend! I had to say I really enjoyed your slogan that you were given. Sweet and sexy at the same time. LOL! I have to say that I really like that pic of Em with the shamrock that you commented on. I also got some wonderful pics of her this weekend in the bluebonnets. I'll have to post those later this week.

It's always good to have you stop by for a spell! Hope you have a beautiful week. :)

Michelle said...

Hello Carmi! Nice to see you again. Have a great evening!

srp said...

I caught my daughter and her best friend running across the back yard playing house with the baby stroller and dolls. Also caught them playing in the sand. They never knew I took the picture. Those are the very best!

Here from Michele.

Erin said...

Hey Carmi! Visiting from Michele's, haven't been here in a couple weeks ... Great post, I love to fly. Even if it isn't what it used to be, it's still something special!

I take tons of photos, and I get quite a few good ones, too. I don't really know what the best I ever got was, though ... I'm going to have to think about it a bit more!

Hope you have a good week, Carmi.

sage said...

I have tons of photos, but two of my favorite are sunset shots. One was sitting on the docks in Berkeley, CA, watching the sun set behind the Golden Gate bridge and taking a half a roll. ANother one was watching the sunset along the Appalachian Trail, north of the Smokey Mts along the NC/TN border. I shot almost a whole roll and ended up sleeping on the trail because it got dark and I didn't have time to set up camp.

I thought about you today when I read about the shootings that happened near London, ONT this weekend. Isn't that in your neck of the woods?

Sandy said...

I've got to go back and read your actual post, but I had to get to the comments as soon as I saw that first photo.

Wow!

colleen said...

I took a shot of a friend and her father at a family cook-out. Her father died a month or two afterwards. It was the last shot of them together. via michele's again.

Steph said...

Those are great shots.

I hope Louis at least offered to buy you dinner first.