Snaps on a plane
May 1, 2014 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Taking photos from an airplane window seat usually results in banal or just bad (hazy, blurry) pictures. Here are some remarkable exceptions to that rule (in French with credits and links).
posted by elgilito (34 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
posted by marxchivist at 7:06 AM on May 1, 2014

“Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places. Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape. The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is supposed to do."
― Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel
posted by Fizz at 7:06 AM on May 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

Since I've been traveling so much, this has become a hobby of mine: holding my phone camera against the window and hoping I get a good shot. Sometimes it works out pretty well.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:12 AM on May 1, 2014 [16 favorites]

Sometimes it works out pretty well.

I'd say!
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:16 AM on May 1, 2014

Every time I try to take a picture of Mt. Fuji out of my plane, it always seems to look like Newark. Every single time.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:18 AM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

The photo of Mount Taranaki was interesting enough that I had to google it to find out why it appears to be surrounded by a perfect dark circle. The answer is that there is a National Park around it, and that national park is defined by a radius around the summit. Inside the park, forest, outside the park, farmland.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:24 AM on May 1, 2014 [12 favorites]

posted by litleozy at 7:25 AM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


In point of fact, none of the photos are of Nice, though some are of other cities.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:25 AM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wow, Nouvelle-Zélande really is Middle-Earth.
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:29 AM on May 1, 2014

the San Mateo Bridge, famed icon of the Bay, beloved worldwide for its graceful 25° right turn
posted by theodolite at 7:34 AM on May 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

These are all great, but I think that image of Chicago is just stunning. I also appreciated the top-down perspective on the waterfall.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:37 AM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've flown a bit, probably an average amount and the most beautiful and dramatic thing I've ever seen was a pair of thunderstorms that we flew between in the midwest. The plane was not big and almost empty so I could hop back and forth like an overstimulated dog who couldn't decide.

Usually my window is translucent like a plastic coke bottle that has been on the beach for two years though.

These are nice. Thanks.
posted by vapidave at 7:41 AM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Most of those are very cool, but I do have very similar photos of New York and San Francisco two places I want to go back to right this instant.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:48 AM on May 1, 2014

Wow, Nouvelle-Zélande really is Middle-Earth.

I heard they made a film there, and that there were photos and everything.

Just can't remember the name of it. Or of any other NZ joke.
posted by Wolof at 7:58 AM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wasn't expecting to see Madison on a list like this. Looks cold.
posted by mrbula at 8:05 AM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Here's one of the London fog from last year, from above.
posted by carter at 8:07 AM on May 1, 2014 [4 favorites]

I remember browsing through this book of airliner window photos a few years back and thinking it was quite good.
posted by DarkForest at 8:10 AM on May 1, 2014

I only have one from-an-airplane-window photo of which I am proud. I hope one day to capture something like those images in the article - some great stuff there.
posted by komara at 8:11 AM on May 1, 2014 [10 favorites]

Here's a few examples from that book.
posted by DarkForest at 8:12 AM on May 1, 2014

Oh, regarding that photo - my meterologist friend took the publicly-available flight data and digital photo timestamp and used that to figure out exactly where the plane was (and therefore I was) when I took that picture and then gave me an annotated version showing the cities and land features below.
posted by komara at 8:17 AM on May 1, 2014 [8 favorites]

Scrolling down the "banal" link led to an image from this similar page of 100 Exquisite Airplane Window Shots—not banal.
posted by rory at 8:19 AM on May 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

here is my best one from a plane. Venice looks like a fish!
posted by drugstorefrog at 8:35 AM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a friend who grew up on that side of Taranaki, and lived there at the time the photo was taken. I bet if you look really hard, you can see her herding cows in the bottom left of the picture.
posted by Dreadnought at 9:19 AM on May 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I spent all winter glad I wasn't dealing with what my friends back in Madison had, but that shot made me melancholy all the same.
posted by aaronetc at 9:23 AM on May 1, 2014

mrzarquon beat me to it - I was going to say how one of the (many) nice things about flying in and out of PDX is that you almost always have a close-up view of Mt. Hood.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:59 AM on May 1, 2014

There's a really charming book about how to recognize what you see from airplane windows: Window Seat: Reading the Landscape from the Air by Gregory Dicum. Just the right size to put it in your pocket and take it on your flight.
posted by Dr. Wu at 2:08 PM on May 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

And here are some of mine.
posted by acb at 2:17 PM on May 1, 2014

My friend Rashied has taken a number of really beautiful airplane shots that I feel obligated to plug. Here's the gallery (they're not all airplane shots, but all the ones on the first page are).
posted by invitapriore at 3:05 PM on May 1, 2014

My brother is a pilot with photography as his hobby; he gets to fly around the world and take photos, the lucky devil— and some of them are pretty good. He often gets to take shots from the cockpit where the glass is clearer, but one of his better shots was from a passenger seat of Fuji.
posted by Red Loop at 4:06 PM on May 1, 2014

acb: This photo reminds me of one of the most beautiful things I ever saw.

Flying over Ireland near dawn I could see, through gaps in the cloud, networks of fields. Snow had fallen in the night, the fields were bright white with dark drystone walls running through them, and the hard surfaces of the roads, looking like stark black lines. The networks of walls and roads made a very distinctive, irregular pattern -- here is an example of the kind of pattern it made -- but the simple black and white made it look, for all the world, like beautifully worked enamel inlay.

At irregular intervals, at the intersection of the lines, were the lights of houses. Just like in your photo, they appeared as luminous dots, shining as if they were the heads of golden nails hammered into the surface to decorate that perfect masterpiece of jewellery.

It was breathtaking.

It looked like a collaboration between Jackson Pollock and Karl Fabergé.
posted by Dreadnought at 5:43 PM on May 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Some of these are awesome. I took this one a couple of weeks ago with my phone and was really happy with it.
posted by hypersloth at 8:23 PM on May 1, 2014

Here's a photo from above the Kennai Peninsula in Alaska last summer, and one I took of sea ice between Greenland and Canada.
posted by lunasol at 4:03 AM on May 2, 2014

They forgot this one
posted by waving at 4:49 AM on May 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

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