Visiting an Old Friend

Backlit Jet AfterToday I found myself visiting an old friend somewhat by accident. But this wasn’t a friend in the traditional sense, but rather a place and an experience that I have enjoyed countless times before.

This was a situation where I was literally “just in the neighborhood”, and wasn’t even thinking about this particular place. It is a spot about two miles from where I grew up, and as a child I visited this spot often. You see, I have long been quite the aviation buff, and growing up near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), I would often walk, ride my bike, or skateboard to various spots where I could watch the planes takeoff and land.

Today, while running an errand near LAX, I spotted the approach lights that cross a major thoroughfare, and remembered the great spot for watching planes land on the northern pair of runways. I took a slight detour and headed over, pulling my camera out of my pack as I approached.

As soon as one plane flew directly overhead, I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be a fast detour. When a small crowd gathered I heard talk about an Airbus A380, which is a huge double-decker monster of a passenger airliner. I inquired. They knew a Korean Air A380 was due to arrive soon. That was all the excuse I needed to stick around for a bit longer.

In the meantime, I captured more than a few photos. The challenge was getting a “clean” shot. I was mostly focused on including the overhead sun in the frame as a jet flew by. Even though I was mostly shooting almost straight up, there was still quite a bit of clutter nearby in the way of approach lights, street lights, trees, and more.

I kept on shooting, and caught sight of the A380 on its downwind leg, getting ready to land. I figured I might as well wait just a little longer. I watched the A380 approach and pass directly overhead, snapping as many shots as my camera could achieve in burst mode.

Later, upon reviewing my images, one of my favorites was actually of a rather small commuter jet. The only problem was that a light post cut into the frame quite significantly. But it was in open sky, so I managed to clean it up without too much effort. Here’s the “before” version, with the light post in the frame:

Backlit Jet Before

And yes, for those interested, I did photograph the Airbus A380 in much the same way…

Airbus A380

Have you ever re-visited a subject or place you’ve seen countless times, with or without photographing that subject? Feel free to share your comments below…

About Tim Grey

Tim Grey is in the business of making photographers smarter and happier. He is the author of more than a dozen books on digital imaging for photographers, has written hundreds of magazine articles, and publishes the Ask Tim Grey e-mail newsletter as well as the Pixology digital magazine. He also speaks at a variety of events and leads photography workshops around the world.
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7 Responses to Visiting an Old Friend

  1. george sanso says:

    brings back memories.. I used to work at Rhemex Electronics. as an electronics designer, way back during the aerospace race to the moon, circa mid 60s.
    This place was in Century Blvd and Sepulveda, right next to the wire fence at the very start of the north runway.. not far from the place where you took your pic.. very good one by the way.. nowadays into photography, Nikon 7000, LTR4, CS6, etc etc, and receiving your newsletter every day… thank you for your writings and blogs..
    George… Radio call AB6A

    • Tim Grey says:


      Thank you for sharing! Yes, my spot is very close to where you’re referring. In particular, where Lincoln Blvd peels off of Sepulveda. A great spot!


  2. sharon levy says:

    Cant go back but clearly you’ve gone forward!!! cool shot!!!!!! I like visiting places that were HUGE when I was a kid…and suddenly they don’t look so big any more…

    • Tim Grey says:


      Well said! I was thinking exactly that as I passed through a park I used to play in. It is so much smaller than I remember! Hope you’re doing great!


  3. Richard B. White says:

    Wow . . . another aircraft buff!

    I grew up in Seattle, in the flight path of Boeing Field. As a kid in the 40′s we would always see various Boeing aircraft pass overhead.

    Then in the 50′s when Boeing introduced the 707, during the SeaFair Hydro Plane Races, Test Pilot, Tex Johnson, did his famous Barrel Roll over the Race Course.
    Quite a sight to see!

    In about 2003 or 2004, while at Boeing Field photographing the Blue Angles, the original 707 took off for its last flight to the Smithsonian Institute. Quite a sight to see with the dark black smoke pouring out from the engines. NO EPA in the 1950′s!


  4. William Oberholtzer says:

    Your story reminded me of when I was a child and my parents would pile us all into the car and head to the next town over to watch the steam engines pull into the round house. Of course, the round house and the steam engines are gone but airports and planes will go on.

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