Since last week's (April Fool’s Day) adventure involving a fake snowstorm went over like a lead balloon, I figured I'd try to redeem myself with a view from a real balloon. Our wonderful neck of the woods viewed from above is fascinating, to be seen as a seagull might and a water buffalo might not.
Many of the aerial photographs I have made over the years were captured on film, and many of those using one of my favorite cameras, the Hasselblad 500 CM. This camera was made (and still is) in Sweden and uses wonderful Zeiss lenses. It is a box camera which can be used at eye level, as one might use a 35mm camera, or at waist level, looking down onto a focusing screen that pops up from the camera body. It is a rugged critter which uses 120 (medium format) film. The exposures produced by this camera can be adjusted in size depending upon the choice of film carrier. I prefer the square image format.
It is a unique system. A small box with interchangeable lenses on one side and interchangeable film backs on the other. The cool part about this is that one could load individual film backs with different films. One back to hold black and white film, while another could be loaded with color film or film of a different speed. Ideally, when doing aerial photographs, I would load multiple film backs with the same film type and speed. When all film is used up in a back, you just pop that back off and plug on another fully loaded. Great system.
The next part of the aerial adventure was/is finding a pilot and a plane. Over the years I have flown with many interesting folks like Dr. Andrews, Captain Minzy, Annie Walko (my fave) and former school superintendent Mark Keegan. Too many others to mention with some well worth forgetting. There have been edgy adventures over the years as you might well imagine.
Climbing into a 150, 172 or 180 Cessna with a complete stranger can be a two-Valium decision. Fortunately we always made it back to Earth in one piece, although sometimes with pieces missing. On occasion, under the right circumstances, a client would have me work from a helicopter, like a “Jet Ranger” – that was pure luxury. Photos from a hovering platform are great compared to photographing from a bouncy compact doodle bug with the window open or the door off! Different flight rules apply to helicopters too, especially if equipped with floats.
Today's image was made around 20 years ago from a fixed wing Cessna out of Wiscasset. The view is looking out over East Boothbay toward the Bristols and Pemaquid. My best guess would be that we were flying at about 600 feet coming in from Linekin Bay. I always photographed from the right seat with the window held open.
The drone world has sort of been the final nail in the coffin of aerial work for me. They are very popular and able to operate in much tighter spaces. Especially helpful if the drone operator has no interest in flying. It’s a little tough to get a 172 Cessna inside the sun porch of a coastal cape – although some with whom I've flown would have enjoyed the challenge!