You'll Never See Windshield Wipers This High Up
Yes, I know it looks like I've just taken a standard windshield wiper shot. But think again. It's not every day you get to stand in front of one of these huge beasts. Let me just say I used my long lens to achieve this view and I had it at full stretch (300mm) for the first shot of this sequence.
Here's a slightly different focal length. I was still standing in the same spot, but shot this with the lens fully retracted (70mm). Now you're starting to get an idea of exactly what my subject was, right?
Let's take a good look at the nose and you can actually see the weather-beaten look across the matt paintwork. Now you know that I’m shooting an aircraft, and not a small one at that. Can you identify it at this stage, or do you need to scroll down a bit further?
This shot brings you a slightly different aspect. Now I’ve pointed the camera further up and along the fuselage, back from the recessed canopy. You can actually see the detail on the metal skin that runs along the spine of the fuselage, but let’s see if the next frame (below, taken at 85mm) gives you a big clue.
The distinctive T-shape of this huge, high tail (above) should give you a big clue. Yes. It’s a C-5 Galaxy of the US Air Force. The heavy lifter has a wingspan of 222.9 feet (almost 68 metres) and is 247.1 feet (75 metres) long. The tail that you can see in this shot is 65 feet (almost 20 metres) above ground. I guess those statistics also tell you how hard you have to work to get your camera angles just right.
This shot gives you an idea of just how bad the late-evening light was while I was photographing the Galaxy. That single factor was crucial in my decision to shoot close-ups using the long lens, rather than the 18-125mm lens I normally use.
Because the light was fading so quickly, I decided to shoot the Galaxy as if it were a piece of outdoor architecture. It’s an interesting approach, but because of the huge surface area, there is no shortage of arresting angles to capture. This was shot from under the starboard (right) wing.
This too, was shot from behind the inboard of the two huge engines on the starboard wing. Each of the four engines is 27 feet (almost 9 metres) long and the diameter of the air intake is 8.5 feet (2.6 metres) and, given the beautiful bulbous contour of the body, I was able to frame the curves against the sky, using the trailing edge of the wing as a strong horizontal point of reference.
Midway through this photo sequence, I happened to glance up from behind the towering Galaxy towards the eastern sky, where there was one solitary burst of pastel colour. I composed this shot very deliberately, using the wing as an artificial horizon, when a single bird flew into the frame.
I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be, but I realised I had to hit the shutter immediately to capture the perfect symbolism of a native Australian bird silhouetted (and dwarfed) by the largest manmade bird in the US arsenal.
Sometimes, you just have to recognise a moment of good luck.
For the home of ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.