Saturday, January 31, 2009

An aviation icon of the north

Click here to view the whole image at 1000 pixels wide.

A lot of pilots will tell you that the DeHavilland DHC-2 Beaver is the easiest plane in the air to fly, and watching this one skip in and out of Lake Hood -- which is the world's busiest float plane harbor, in Anchorage, Alaska -- I can believe it. The Beaver has an amazing history and is an icon in Arctic Canada. The skies in the north are still full of them. This one is operated by Rust Flying Services, and is still in the air, still working -- you can see it on Rust's website's homepage! This photo was captured in 1997, on a glorious day in August. The weather was warm, which is very unusual for August in Alaska (folks said I'd brought the good weather with me; and wouldn't you know it? It quit just as I left). I was shooting on 200 speed film, which was all I had left when I got this picture. Because the film was not so fast, you'll notice the background blurred as I tracked with the aircraft ... which adds to the effect. The film was not developed till I got back to Australia, and I discovered the undeveloped roll had been damaged by going through about nine airport x-ray machines. All the images have an overall yellow cast. To get around this, the old print was scanned at 600dpi and deeply enhanced for sharpness, contrast, brightness -- and color. Then it was touched up to get rid of about forty "ufos" -- faults in the photo paper on which it had been printed, so long ago. The result is very nice -- and for me, full of memories. The integrity of the shot tells me the camera was one of my Pentax K-1000s, and the film was certainly Kodak Royal Gold 200. Photo by Mel, 1997.

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