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John A. Weeks III
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Aviation History And Aircraft Photography

DC-10 On Final

Airplane Photo

  • Type:   McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30
  • Venue:   Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport
  • Location:   Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Date:  
  • Photo:   Minolta 7000i w/150-300mm Zoom, 2x Teleconverter
  • Photo:   Fuji ASA 100 Color Print Film
  • Full Size Photo (~250kb)

I took this photo at the MSP Airport just after getting my first Minolta SLR camera. I was experimenting with various combinations of lenses and teleconverters. One thing I quickly learned is that airplanes move kind of fast, and you don't have a lot of time to work on shots. You have to take your best guess, then make the best of it. If you wait, you miss it, and there are usually no second chances. The action is also way too fast for a tripod, so you have to learn to hand-hold the camera, even when using larger zoom and telephoto lenses.

This photo is of a DC-10 on final just crossing the threshold end of the runway. It is a model 30 of the DC-10, which you can tell by the 3rd landing gear and wheel-set between two main gear sets. I was over a mile away, standing in the back of my pick-up truck to get a bit of height over the fences. The long zoom lens (400mm) really pulls the background to the forefront of the photo, making for a flat scene. Too bad the ILS antenna ended up in the photo. I waited too long to press the button waiting for the perfect angle, and blew it. Had I waited any longer, the background would have been a building, which was not what I wanted. It is important to take your equipment out every so often and practice. That makes you sharp for when it really counts, and reduces these kinds of mistakes when you don't have any second chances for a shot.

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Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2016, all rights reserved.
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