Saturday, July 12, 2008

The story of one photo...

Since I'm not a great, world-renowned photographer, no one comes to me and asks, "What is your favorite photograph?" So I often look through 4 years of shots and ask that question of myself. I still don't have a definitive answer. The picture that today I like more than others may drop a few notches a few weeks later. So the best I can say is that I have many favorites. The one you see above is one of those.

I had been contacted by a guy who worked "airside" at DFW Airport. He had an amazing job, even though it paid just over $13 an hour. He got to drive an official yellow pickup around the runways and perimeter roads and be a combination of security guy and go-fer fellow. If a pilot reported a dead coyote on a runway (it's happened), they would shut down the runway and this guy would go dispatch the coyote. Anyway, he wanted to know if I would like to ride along with him and take photos. Well, yeah!!

For this particular shot, he parked his pickup about 20 yards from runway 36R. Here came American Airlines flight 60 from Tokyo. It had probably been in the air 11 hours or so. What I liked was that it was a Boeing 777, the monster of the AA fleet. It is highly photogenic and very loud...a visual and auditory overdose. I stood in the bed of his vehicle, spread my feet, and leaned my kneecaps against the back window for further support. And I snapped away.

What I try to do at this angle is to get a shot at the exact moment the wheels hit concrete. One reason I like this shot is that I got lucky. The right landing gear has made contact a millisecond before the left...note that a tiny cloud of tire smoke has begun on the plane's right set of wheels...while on the left, only one of the wheels has begun to touch pavement. The pilot has come extremely close to nailing a perfect landing, and perhaps only a photo could convince the passengers that there was any flaw in the touchdown. Seconds later, the wing passed by incredibly close, the thrust-reversers were deployed, and waves of auditory overload cascaded over me. It was way cool.

But the shot apparently isn't that great. One aviation picture website rejected it, saying it wasn't up to their standards. I reworked it six times and they still didn't like it. And, to top it off, I have lost contact with my contact. After 7 or 8 sessions "inside the fence" at DFW, I now have to position myself outside the perimeter like everyone else. I knew it was too good to last. But boy did I love it while it lasted!

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