A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Aerial photo hunt

November 21, 2020
Emilie Phillips

Maine Aeronautics sent out an e-mail with an aerial “I Spy”. I took the challenge and tried to get some good aerial photography. The goal was to find and photograph 5 of seven categories

  • a bridge
  • solar panels
  • wind turbines
  • something oval or round
  • a bend, curve, or S-turn in a road or body of water
  • north/south-ish runway — anything from 29/08 to 36/18
  • smoke or smoke stack

Usually when I take photos from the plane, they are opportunistic snaps. Planning specific photos is a new thing.

Friday evening I plotted out all the major points I could find on a google map. Some of the categories I could pick off the chart — wind farms and runways. For bridges, I first thought of the big arches across the Connecticut, but then Tyson suggested I also consider covered bridges. Solar panels and S-turns I found by using google satellite view. I wanted to find a river S turn bordered by farms, but there aren’t many farms in southern NH. For the ovals and smoke stacks, I figured I would just see what I could find as I flew around.

Nifty cloud structure. Haze below

Saturday was supposed to be mostly sunny. To get the best possible lighting, I woke up early and took off just as the sun was rising. At first I thought I had taken off ahead of the sun because the ground was still gloomy. No, the problem was that the sun rose straight into a bank of clouds. The “mostly sunny” apparently didn’t start until later in the day. Worse, everything below 4,000 feet was filled with a dense fog.

I flew about half my planned route. At that point I had photos of every category. The lighting wasn’t improving. And I was getting a little queasy from looking through the view finder.

Best bridge

The sun briefly popped out for this bridge. If you zoom in, you can see camera shake. All my photos had shake. With the low light, I had too slow a shutter speed. I think the best fix is to get more sunlight. Otherwise I need to up the ISO.

Ashuelot covered bridge

Best solar panels

I wasn’t sure how to photograph solar panels going in to this project. I’m still not quite sure. The photos I took of larger arrays from higher up came out as a large indistinct mass. This is my favorite photo from the trip because it has solar panels, a bridge, and a north/south runway. I’m not sure if the rules allow me to submit it for all three.

Solar panels at Newport plus a bridge

Best wind turbines

For wind turbines, I learned that I need the wind direction and the sun to line up. Otherwise the photo is of the “back” side of the turbine. The turbines didn’t form as neat a line as I expected.

Antrim wind turbines

Something oval or round

This category wasn’t planned ahead. In Hancock I spotted a radio telescope. It is part of the Very Long Baseline Array.

NRAO radio telescope

Best curve or turn

I hadn’t planned this picture of the Connecticut, but it had all the pieces I wanted, and I like the angle. If only it weren’t filled with haze.

Meanders in the Connecticut River near Stuart & John’s

North/south runway

The sun came out while I was at Keene, but I like the composition better from Parlin. The bridge shows up nicely.

North-south runway, and a bridge

All Photos