Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Playing with water at the airport

Dancing water
DTW - Detroit Metro Airport, McNamara Terminal, January 2007
[Click all images to embiggen]

On my way to Boston last week, I managed to clear security a bit early, and consequently had a few extra minutes before I needed to head to my gate. One of the joys of moving through this airport is despite its gargantuan size, the combination of high-speed tram and moving sidewalks means even the furthest gate in the furthest terminal is no longer an hour-long hike. Which means more time for goofing around with a camera.

The McNamara terminal stretches out for what seems like a mile in either direction. Smack in the middle sits a computer-controlled fountain whose dancing streams of water give travellers a bit of a break in the middle of an otherwise-alien place. Out came the camera. Unlike most of my in-transit photography, I wasn't alone this time. Folks from everywhere speaking every language imaginable milled around the base of the fountain, chatting animatedly about the best way to record the fascinating piece of public scuplture.

The light was a challenge, but shooting into the gigantic window with the Northwest Airlines 747-400 parked just outside gave the scene a bit of an ethereal tone. I lost count of how many pictures I took in the 12 minutes that I was there, but I was - and remain - thankful for large memory cards and long-duration batteries. I had taken pictures of this fountain the last time I came through the airport, but a point-and-shoot doesn't have the speed or flexibility to do justice to fast-moving water that changes consistency and composition every fraction of a second. It was like painting a portrait with a Benjamin Moore paint roller, and I was disappointed with the results. This time, I was glad that I had returned with a somewhat better tool for the job.

I wanted to stay there for just a few more minutes. I had lots of battery, lots of room on the memory card and a head swimming with ideas for capturing this in other ways. But the clock was ticking, and the last thing I wanted was a last-minute mad dash through the terminal a la O...well, we won't mention him. So I carefully tucked my camera back into its bag, closed everything up and started the long trek to a gate that likely resided in another zip code. My journey was nowhere near over, but I had already succeded in capturing a small piece of it for everyone back home.

I blew off the moving sidewalk and decided to walk to my gate. Tomorrow, I'd be in this same place, heading home. I wondered what other scenes were awaiting capture as I criss-crossed the countryside.

Your turn: What's your immediate reaction when you see the flying water? Do these pictures work for you? How?


kenju said...

Oh, yes, they work! I love these shots of flying water, almost as much as I like to look at fountains like that. The pic showing the solid arcing lines is great!

Thanks for the visit. I just added a paragraph to that post about other posts I had written about living in that house. If you enjoyed that one, you might want to come back and read the other two.

Anna said...


Absolutely INCREDIBLE! I am sure that you are in awe that your lens captured this...I would have been too! The crisp lines are even more impressive when you "embiggen" and you can feel the movement in the water...and the reflections...PERFECT.

Very impressive! Love them...

Snaggle Tooth said...

I never realized how dis-organized the particle-streams from a fountain could be when in still-motion as shown here-

Very nifty! thanks!

Anonymous said...


Did you notice how you could see one stream in the background through one stream in the foreground in some but you couldn't in others?

That must have been fun shooting those and trying to get your timing right.

Kara said...

i love how they look solid...almost like something man made.

TJ said...

my first thought was ice...I thought it was some sort of icicle!
Hi back at ya!!

DellaB said...

Thanks for your visit Carmi, and your kind words on my efforts.

I am so impressed with your photographs, what a brilliant 'eye' you have - I often look at things in this same way, but I don't have a knack for capturing them - these are very inspirational, makes me want to go and grab my camera and go looking!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I'm crazy about that first picture! THe capturing of the movement of the water is brilliant. How in hell did you do that Carmi? It is fantastic!

Anna said...

I have been back to "embiggen" these a few times since you posted this. II am amazed Carmi that you have 24 comments about the Gecko but just 8 on the water. That really surprises me. The first one is my favorite.

Anna said...

I meant the second one...sorry. :)

David Edward said...

weird- you make it look alive.

but then your camera makes lots of stuff more lively

Bob Scotney said...

I stand by that fountain every year but still have not taken a shot of it. Now I shall have to the next time I leave Detroit.