Time Travel at 30,000 Feet

Although I posted earlier about my trip to Carkeek Park in West Seattle with Setsuko, I finally had the time to go through all of the photos I took two weeks ago, from right when I got back home.

On August 16th at around 6:00 PM, it was Goodbye Japan! I hopped on a Delta flight out of Kansai International and off we went, and I was on my way home to Seattle for good. I wasn’t assigned a seat even after checking in, so I hustled to the gate, where they were already pre-boarding. I was given a window seat in – wouldn’t you know – the emergency exit row right over the left wing! To my utter horror, as I thought this meant no under the seat storage space. And believe me I needed all the room I could get trying to drag every last belonging back home with me! LUCKILY, though there WAS space! So I was saved, and I had a great view out the side of the plane to boot.

I normally like aisle seats because I like being free to use the bathroom without disturbing the person sitting next to me, but I was just ecstatic about getting on with all my gear. And little did I know that this was the best thing that could have happened to me.

I was seated next to a marine/army soldier, who was perhaps based in Okinawa and returning home? I didn’t ask him as he seemed to be sleeping most of the flight. Looking out the side of the plane it struck me how late in the day it was. The sun was descending and golden light was pouring into the cabin from the multitude of windows. I got my small s90 out from my bag, and as we took off, I got a wide shot of the city of Osaka below.

Osaka from the air, 6:11 PM

6:11 PM. Osaka, seen from the air.

We climbed and soon were cruising at 25,000~30,000 feet.

Sunset, 6:17 PM

6:17 PM. Looking over the wing.

Then, suddenly, everything outside the window was washed away and we were flying in a sea of clouds, bathed in the last rays of the sun. It was picturesque, to say the least.

Sunset, 6:31

6:31 PM. Magical sunset colors.

Sunset, 6:35 PM

6:35 PM. I was zooming in with the s90. The contrast of dark upper clouds and brilliant orange was other-worldly.

Sunset, 6:38 PM

6:38 PM. Although we were already so high there were still clouds above us - a pretty wild thing to imagine.

I couldn’t even put my camera down, the light was changing so fast! I remember reading an article about taking shots from an airplane, and once again was extremely grateful I had such a small and capable camera. All pics in this post were taken with the s90 and it did not let me down. (For those interested in my technique or methods, I basically pressed the camera lens flat against the window to minimize reflections and glare and, for the most part, tried to stick to a wide aperture to keep the ISO down. For times when I zoomed in to cut the plane wing out, bracing the camera on the windowsill helped immensely in getting clear, steady shots. Of course, if you know me, you know I had it set on P and vivid colors with a -1/3 exposure setting 🙂 )

Sunset, 6:42 PM

6:42 PM. Field of fire in the sky.

Sunset, 6:43 PM

6:43 PM. I liked the look of the wing and turbine in this shot.

The day finally ended, but not before a few more shots.

Sunset, 6:45 PM

6:45 PM. After 30 minutes the light finally hit its peak! The clouds covered the sun perfectly for me to get a shot with no flaring. The pink clouds - magnificent!

Sunset, 6:56 PM

6:56 PM. The world is almost plunged into night, save for the very last rays of the sun's light.

After the sun went down I closed the shade and tried to sleep – but it didn’t come, and my feet were cold as I’d foolishly worn sandals and had forgotten to pack socks for the trip. I think eventually I must have dozed off for an hour or two because when I woke up I caught a faint light peeking out of the shades. If this was what I thought it was…

Sunrise, 8:03 AM

8:03 AM (US west coast time). Sunrise at 30,000 feet.

Sunrise, 8:08 AM

8:08 AM. The look is a lot different then sunset, but no less beautiful.

I had “traveled back in time” and was watching the sun rise on August 16th all over again! 🙂 Talk about deja-vu! Albeit on the other side of the world. Worked out, as Japan is about as far east as you can get and the west coast of the US is also really far west. I guess the advent of flight lets us outrun the sun! If only for a few hours anyway 😉

Rings of frost, 8:26 AM

8:26 AM. The air outside the plane is so cold it frosts up the windows - the morning light made for some beautiful frost patterns.

Field of clouds, 8:34 AM

8:34 AM. Morning cloud fields.

Mt. Rainer, 11:34 AM

11:34 AM. On the descent into Seattle I managed to take a quick snap of Mt. Rainier.

Seattle from the air, 11:36 AM

11:36 AM. A grab shot of Seattle before touchdown.

And so, after four years, I finally made it back home. I’ve got lots more pics edited and coming in the next few days, so enjoy for now and come back soon! – Brian

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