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and to the skies

wing 6
wing 6 by Tim Caynes

Having got my hands on my little Sony, I proceeded to take to the skies, both literally and metaphorically and probably also hypothetically and hyperbolically. one of the simple pleasures I was instantly afforded after adding 2 AA batteries and boarding a plane was the ability to settle into my window seat and stick my camera through the window at anything that moved, which was everything, once we got going.

I’m not particularly a creature of habit unless you count being hunched over a flat-panel screen for hours on end watching pixels change their luminosity as a result of reducing opacity by 1% increments but that first flight with a digital camera was the start of a compulsive pattern of behaviour that demands a certain set of criteria be fulfilled before a flight is considered successful from a photo-opportunity point of view, if that’s not a tautology in of itself. I simply can’t book a seat without:

  • it being a window seat
  • it being in front of the wing
  • my knowing the direction of the sun at the time of travel


in addition, when I’m sat in that seat I have to have the correct environment which needs to include

  • a clean window
  • which is in line with the seat
  • and a shirt without stripes.


Normally I can get the booking right using a combination of online booking, priority check-in, google earth and a compass or sexton or something, but the environment is usually less predictable. I’ll normally spend the 30 minutes before taxiing with a wet wipe and a packet of tissues and the arm of a fleece to get the window clean, regardless of what the person sat next to me is thinking, which is normally ‘can I move?’. if the window is slightly right-of-centre, I know I’m going to get a neck-ache, but maybe some nice shots of the wing. If it’s slightly left-of-centre, I’ll probably get a backache and a line down my face where it’s been pressed against the seat in front of me when the seat in front of me has been hyper-reclined into my lap. If it’s centrally aligned, bingo. The shirt without stripes thing I always forget, so I just spend the entire flight wrapped in a British Airways blanket which gives me a rash.

When you get it all right, then armed with a inconspicuous little point-and-shoot, you don’t really attract much attention, other than the blanket thing, oh, and the pathological window cleaning thing, so you’re free to capture until your memory stick throws a wobbler. the best times are take off, climbing, banking, and landing, but the actual flying bit in the middle is also good, so 13 hours later, I’ll land in San Francisco or Denver or somewhere, with a head permanently fixed at 90 degrees and a shoulder colder than is reasonably possible. But I’ll have 150 images of wings, mountains, clouds, airports, runways and iced-up windows, which will take me 200 hours to sort through and post-process of which I’ll take 1 and post it to flickr where nobody will notice except me. And it’ll be worth it.

travelogue 19

travelogue 19
travelogue 19 by Tim Caynes

not to bore you with the details of the previous day and night’s travel but suffice to say that the 727 did what it does and dumped me at heathrow central bus station whereupon you search for a hotel hoppa to take you to the radisson only to find the stop, but to step on the H7 which takes you to the sheraton so nah mate, you want the H2 innit that’s the other one. that’s not embarrassing. anyway, arrival at the edwardian means being greeted at the desk with “yis, we’re having a wedding tonight so you are on six floor no smoking good” and dispatched to the lifts where you have to stick your room keycard in the wall before it goes anywhere. bing! 4th floor. 72 indian party goers and a pachyderm pile in “on their way to wedding. floor 6 please”. that’s not good. as I wheel myself into 607 I hear what sounds like the birdy song in urdu or something so I lock the door sharpish behind me and watch match of the day until I start dribbling on myself and then I have to work out where the extra 17 cushions go before I can get into bed.

it wasn’t that bad really. hoppa man clutched me from reception at 8am and expelled me at terminal 2. or 1. I dunno. everything looks the same at Heathrow. hang on. I need BA check in desks. I mean, I’ve already checked in online of course, but I need to go and join the longest queue in the entire airport – the one marked “fast bag drop”. oh, I should be in terminal 1. I expect there’s a handy elevator or something to take me there. or maybe a shuttle. what? whaddayoumean I have to WALK? VIA TERMINAL 3? I remember why I hate this horrible place. it’s then I remember that I’m not flying to Denver on a nice clean plane. I’m flying to San Francisco, so we get the rickety old 747 from 1997 with the seat that never stays upright. arse. gloom.

“29K sir. you have a window seat today sir”. “I know”

someone is in my seat. they’re there on purpose. there’s 2 of them and they’re leaving the seat in the middle empty to try and get 3 seats to themselves. “hi. 29K, er, I think that’s me, by the window”. “Oh, really? I though HJK went the other way round”. “No. K is by the window, definitely”. humph. much consternation at having to relocate 1 sat to the left. I smile a smile that says I’M PAYING HUNDREDS OF POUNDS FOR THAT SPECIFIC SEAT WHICH IS TWICE AS MUCH IN DOLLARS AND IF YOU THINK I’M NOT GOING TO ACTUALLY SIT IN THE WINDOW SEAT THAT I HAVE EMBEDDED IN MY TRAVEL PROFILE AT ROSENBLUTH THEN YOU MUST THINK I CAN’T EVEN COUNT TO K and prepare not to move any limbs for 10 hours by just kind of stretching a bit. oh. my seat doesn’t stay up. that’ll be nice.

it’s a morning flight so we’ll be in daylight for the whole journey, meaning I’ve got my camera strapped to me like some appendage in case I snap a near miss or a volcano or something but will probably end up just taking 37 pictures of a wing that you can’t really see because the windows are 17 years old and covered in ice and scratches.

ooh! a glacier!

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