Cloudscape over Los Angeles


Flight out of LAX Los Angeles California over the clouds at sunset on British Air on my way to England and Germany
Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm f/4L IS USM at 75mm, f/4 for 1/200s at ISO 100. Circular polarizer.

Flight out of LAX Los Angeles California over the clouds at sunset on British Air on my way to England and Germany
Canon 5D Mark III, 24-105mm f/4L IS USM at 96mm, f/4 for 1/200s at ISO 100. Circular polarizer.

Background

These photos were made during my flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to London Heathrow (LHR) on a Boeing 747. Departure time for the flight was approximately 6:30pm, so by the time we taxied and were up above the clouds, the sun began to set.

How to get this type of shot

Shooting above the clouds is a little different compared to shooting from the ground because instead of waiting for the sun to approach the horizon and reflect light from the bottom of the clouds, I had to wait for the correct angle so that the setting sun could skip light from above the clouds. The light was fleeting and just minutes before I made these photos the clouds looked completely white, then turned a brilliant orange and within 5 minutes turned dark gray and were void of color. What was most challenging was framing the shot since I had to do so thorough the tiny window of the aircraft. In addition, I had to deal with shooting through the sheet of plexiglass of the inner cabin and then the sheet of glass of the fuselage and the flare that they created, which when shooting almost directly into the sun, was impossible to avoid.

I composed the first image to include the tip of the plane’s wing and engines to give context to the image. This same shot could have easily been made from atop a large mountain, so I wanted to give the viewer a sense of place. The second image was made to include only the sea of clouds and the color that was coming from them.

You can view the photos that I took during this trip here and here.

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9 thoughts on “Cloudscape over Los Angeles

  1. these are wonderful. I have never managed to capture clouds from an sircraft as beautiful as they look in reality but you have done an amazing job – and managed not to end up with window scratches distracting the viewer like always do!

  2. These are two beautiful cloudscape shots from the air. Again your description of the process of taking the shots, including the framing for context and the problems of window glass are an excellent guide for anyone wanting to emulate your successful shots.

    I took some similar shots to these in the mid 1980s, with a Canon 35mm film camera, I will have to make sure I include them when I begin to share my old photos on my nostalgia blog. They are not as lovely as your photos, but it was the only time I have ever taken pictures on a plane!

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