Monday, July 27, 2009

Santa Fe Chronicles - The Journey Home

One of my favorite ways to pass the time when flying is taking pictures of the landscape below. That's why I love Southwest Airlines; their open seating policy allows me to choose my window carefully (heaven forbid I should be stuck over a wing!) This series was taken on my journey from Albuquerque, NM to San Jose, CA. The first shot above was shortly after takeoff, as we flew over the Rio Grande.

Rio Puerco is a feeder to the Rio Grande. I have photographed it several times, always amused by its crazy twists and turns! This is only a few minutes into the flight; the terrain changes fast!

At 30 thousand feet large trees become dots. What I find fascinating about aerial photography is seeing the affects of water and humans on the natural landscape. Few of my shots are without evidence of man (like the slim road above); none are without evidence of water.

What looks like snow is probably salt, chalk or lime deposits; your guess is as good as mine!

I liked seeing these lush green belts along the arroyos; this is monsoon season in the Southwest, i.e., as wet as it's going to get! Nature puts green in the proper places; a good lesson.

Amazing colors, and again, what interesting patterns water makes as it finds its way home.

Hmm, is that a river, or a road?

After a long stretch of cloud cover (dang!) the skies opened up to this amazing view of what my family calls 'Cumulo-clumpus' clouds!

Clouds are so cool!

New terrain (we're over Arizona now, that's about all I can tell you!)

The marks of man on the natural landscape sometimes make me think of scars...

Giant Centipedes!

I thought this shot was fascinating; the juxtaposition of the cultivated squares of farmland with the natural terrain reminds me of a collage.

As the sun gets lower, things really start to get interesting. Look at the elegant runoff patterns from these buttes. This may be southern Nevada, as we crossed the Sierras into California shortly afterward.

Final approach to home; the Santa Cruz Mountains, and a dense blanket of fog over the Pacific (probably NOT a good beach day!)

All of these pictures were taken with my trusty little Olympus point-and-shoot. If you've ever taken pictures through an airplane window, you know they usually look terrible. The secret to releasing beautiful images from sepia obscurity? Simply click Adjustments/Auto-Levels in Photoshop. That one click is the ONLY edit made to each of these photos. How much of a difference does it make? Remember 'Giant Centipedes' above? Here's what it looked like before:

Pretty amazing, huh? It's like finding buried treasure. What have you got buried, hmm?


  1. Beautiful, Laura. And what a wonderful insight that there's always evidence of water (even your giant centipedes!). My most memorable high-altitude view was coming out of Las Vegas and passing over some ancient volcano field; to this day I don't know where it was, but the cones and flows were still evident, black against the tan desert. Thanks for sharing!

  2. These are really interesting...thanks for taking the time to shoot and post. My husband has done that, too, but not such a "series" as yours. I'll show him...he'll be intrigued!
    Also, thanks for the camera hint.
    Jeannie in Sacramento

  3. Love the cloud pictures! I took some cool pictures when I went to Honduras- Roatan looked soooo green from above, and the colorful buildings looked almost fake!

  4. So I need Photoshop then! Great pictures.

  5. I always take my point and shoot when I travel via plane. It's easy to snap a picture and then take off the haze with the auto setting in Photoshop/Lightroom/photo editing program. Thanks for sharing the pictures of your adventure. Welcome home!

  6. Great photo tip. As an Easterner, I love to sit by the window when flying out West because of the kind of scenery you show here. It always amazes me. Thanks for the vicarious visit.

  7. Just found your blog and love it. Call me a wimp but those shots of the earth from the plane window made me tear a bit. We live here! maybe it didn't help that the t.v. has some sappy music playing for an undoubtedly terrible show.

  8. I rarely take pictures out the plane window but my eyes are always glued to the scenery. Just last week flying from Chicago to Connecticut I was intrigued to see the Finger Lakes from above, and it made me feel stupidly happy like I was the first to discover them. Thanks for the tip on photo adjustments! I have so many bad photos that probably could be saved with one click.