When I was a boy my dad used to take us to the airport. We would sit on the roof terrace of the E.T. Joshua Airport and just watch the four and six seater double propeller planes land and take off. The airport was in the aptly named Arnos Vale. Using my dad’s binoculars, standing on the veranda of our family home in Dorsetshire Hill, we could see the planes approach from the Caribbean Sea. But I always enjoyed watching the planes close up. Perhaps it was the sound of the propeller or maybe it was the smell of aeroplane fuel; I enjoyed the experience.
It was cold and windy yesterday. The air temperature was about -2°C. But with the easterly winds, it felt more like -6°C. I wore two layers of clothing under my long wool cool, thick socks, gloves, and a hat and hoodie. But I could still feel the cold. I stepped inside the Princeton airport reception room and introduced myself to the two gentlemen inside; Steve and Parth.
Earlier in the week I had emailed the airport and obtained permission to photograph planes for the Tuesday Photo Challenge. Steve and Parth gave me a map of the airport and showed me where it was safe to stand. They didn’t want me distracting the student pilots.
From my position on the field, I could easily see the planes landing. I was shooting with my AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 but soon realized it wasn’t long enough. Through the viewfinder, the planes looked like birds as they approached the runway. I was at the same elevation as the planes and as they landed they almost disappeared into the background brush line. It was not working out the way I expected.
I moved to another position at the far end of the runway, along the southern end of the airport’s fence. I got some better shots, but my zoom was still not enough. Being closer to the landing strip would have helped as well. I posted my best result.
I stood for a while looking out the kitchen window. I had just brewed a fresh pot of coffee and was enjoying the delicious flavour of the South American beans. I watched the small birds flying back and forth between the trees and the two bird feeders I had installed a few years ago. Originally I had a grand plan to set up a laser-based camera trigger to photograph birds. The trick was to train the birds into returning to the tree closest to the back entrance to my home. It had taken several years.
My wife reminds me that now I have become responsible for ensuring their safety and she never lets me forget to fill the feeders. The company that was supposed to make the laser guided system folded last week. The original project failed and it seems the company never recovered. I never got my bird project off the ground.
My wife wasn’t feeling well this weekend. But when she woke up this morning I made a point of mentioning how fascinating it was to watch the dozen or so birds feeding outside our kitchen window. Then turned to me and said, “You know, birds make landings too”. Oh, wow! Why didn’t I think of that? Seriously, why didn’t I?
I set my camera up inside the sliding door and patiently took two hundred photos. It was a challenge. Small birds move very quickly. I had a lot of shots with nothing in the frame. And at first many of the images were blurry. I upped the shutter speed and kept trying. It’s not properly focused and the depth of field is very narrow but this is one of the best landing images I capture in that hour.
This bird is a type of sparrow; the Dark-eyed Junco. I uploaded the image to the Merlin Bird ID app from Cornell Lab of Ornithology.