So, I totally disagree with New Year’s resolutions. But for the past two years, I’ve been setting some yearly goals to accomplish. Which I feel are more flexible and I don’t feel bad if I get rid of or change some throughout the year. Such as to keep building models the way I want, continue to discover and practice philosophy along with getting back into aviation photography again. But before, I start attending airshows again, I want to update my gear and to do some spotting to work out that forgotten muscle memory of shooting. I briefly toyed with the idea of getting a mirrorless DSLR but I’m not switching my lense inventory to Canon’s new RF mounts. And I don’t like the idea of using an adapter from EF to RF mounts. So, I’ll be sticking with DSLRs for now. I’ve outgrown my trusty 7D Mk2 along with newer technology that has outdated it. Plus, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve rolled its counter. Canon 90D should be an excellent replacement for my 7D Mk2. It has a newer 32.5-megapixel sensor along with it can shoot at 10fps like the 7D Mk2. I can now shoot 4K video if I want. The 90D has a higher ISO range and longer battery life than my old 7D Mk2. And it too is weather sealed. I also chose to replace my 17-85mm with the newer 18-135mm IS USM. And to back up my 500mm F/4.5L, I got the Canon 100-400mm Mk2. Years ago, I had the Mk I and hated how soft the images were from it. I’ve rented the Mk II a couple of times and it’s a much better lens.
My new Canon 90D and 100-400mm MkII
I had envisioned a shot, in late afternoon light or around sunset of a silhouetted airliner during landing. Though I had to wait for the conditions to materialize, I wanted the first images of my new camera to be of an airplane of some sort. I figured I’ll do some spotting down at Detroit Metro (DTW) as the sun is setting with a fire-like sky. But I feel sunset sucks without a few clouds on the horizon. All week long I was keeping an eye on the weather hoping for the right conditions. On Wednesday of that week, it was the first day that it wasn’t straight overcast and was partly sunny with a decent sky-to-cloud balance to hopefully make the sunset interesting. The catch is it was windy as shit. South southwest winds 10-20 mph and gusting to 30! Which was the cause of the wind advisory in effect until 4 pm. Sunset was around 6 pm, fingers crossed that the winds will die down. By the time I got home from work and packed up to make my way down to DTW, the patchy clouds were starting to dissipate and there were a few on the horizon but not as populated as earlier in the day. I packed up my gear and headed down to my spotting location. And during the drive down, my level of excitement was unusually high. It’s been 4 years since I shot any aircraft, but I feel it’s awesome that I was excited about spotting. I got parked, geared up, and checked my settings and it was time to play the spotters waiting game powered by Flightradar24. My first arrival was a Spirit airways A320 from Vegas. With AI servos on and high-speed continuous shooting @F/5.6, the 90D blasted away at 10 frames per second. With the wind howling and bitter cold, I didn’t stay long. And the Sun quickly hid behind the clouds on the horizon and the saturated afternoon light was gone. As of now, (wintertime) the sun sets too far to the south to achieve the shot I had envisioned. Where it sets now, is cluttered with light poles and power lines. Definitely a late spring or midsummer shot when the sun sets later in the day as well as farther north. But anywho, once home it was time to check out my photos and see how I did after a 4-year hiatus. The first 8 images were soft or out of focus but number 9 was spot on. Overall, I’m pleased with the new body/lens combo. Had the correct wind direction but not the right time of year for my envisioned shot.
Wanted to test my new lens and body combo in some morning light. Conditions were favorable for my spotting location. Southwest winds but cold as fuck! 25 degrees(-3C) but felt like 10F(-12C) with the wind chill. Packed up the gear and headed down to DTW once again. I was hesitant to leave earlier due to the temperature and the sunrise was at 7:24. My mistake was that I left my apartment at 7 and I watched the sharp beautiful morning light during my drive down to DTW. As I parked the car while the last bit of that golden light bathed a spirit airways A320 and made it look amazing. For the next 20 minutes, nothing landed. That sought-after saturated light that I was after was nearly gone. Then I noticed a sole Delta A321 in the pattern for runway 22R on Flightradar24. Which was being used for arrivals and the runway I was in the position to photograph arriving flights. Even though it wasn’t in the light I was after, it was still fun to photograph aircraft in some better light conditions than on my first test trip. In the hour and a half, I was there, only three aircraft used runway 22R. The previously mentioned A321, a 737 along with a lone CRJ-900. The cold wasn’t as bad as I expected. I from time to time, hopped back into the car to warm up along with checking what is or isn’t lining up on runway 22R. There was more activity on runway 21R but unfortunately, there’s not a good location to spot that approach. I say it was a partial success, with correct wind direction, and sharp saturated morning light but had bad timing.
After writing all morning, I decided to look at Flightradar24 and see what’s happening down at DTW. The first thing I noticed was the winds were still coming from the southwest. Which means they were using runways 21 and 22 for arrivals and departures. And after a glance out my apartment window, I decided to head back down and do some fair-weather spotting. I figure the more time I have behind my camera before show season starts up the better. Along with if I leave now, there are two Delta Airbus flights from Japan I want to capture in some decent light. The first one was an A330 that departed from Nagoya and the other was Delta’s Flagship, an A350 traveling from Haneda. Since both flights would be arriving from the west, there would be a good chance that both would land on runway 22L. The weather was mostly sunny with puffy fast-moving clouds that would look nice in the blue sky. Since my trip to Japan, which I flew on a Delta A350, I’ve been Infatuated with the aircraft. If I leave now, I could most likely catch both. On the drive down, “Detroit driving rules” were definitely in effect. Despite my spirited driving, the A330 from Nagoya gracefully passed by as I pulled into the parking lot of my spotting location. Fortunately, the A350 was only a few minutes behind her. According to Flightradar24, it was looking like she was on the same approach as the flight from Nagoya. Remember what I said about those clouds? Fast moving is how I put it. Yeah, the wind was fucking howling! More so than the other trips. At one point, I had to chase down my hat that went flying across the parking lot. But soon enough Deltas A350 graced me with her presence and the new lens/body combo didn’t disappoint.
The skies soon cleared up and I had nothing else to do on this blustery Sunday. So, I decided to stay, and I ended up hanging out for about another hour or so. A few other highlights from this trip were my first time photographing an A220, A320 NEO along with a 737 Max. I went to catch a couple of wide-body Airbuses and got “Wind qualify” in the process. I’m going to call this breezy trip a success.
All in all, I’ve been exciting about getting back behind the camera and spotting again. Like when I first began my journey into aviation photography over 18 years ago. I’m going to make at least three or four more trips down to DTW before my first aviation event this year. And at least one of them with my 500mm. I need to get use to holding that beast again. I’m also toying with the idea of some night spotting with my 5DSR. Its full frame sensor would handle the higher ISO far better than the cropped sensor of the 90D, but we will see.
Until next post,