High Altitude Sunrise
0.9144˚ Above Horizon
18,000 ft / 5486.4 m
Hands down the best thing about flying early (or late) is this. A different atmosphere could be felt on the plane as the passengers all turned to those long smooth streaks of rich blue. Petals blooming over the circular edge of the Earth, soon revealing on the moment of daybreak a full spectrum show. The experience of sunrise happens faster up here, unobstructed by buildings, hills, and atmospheric diffraction. At 18,000 ft, the sun rose 3min 39s sooner for us than the New Orleanians we just left who were below sea level. And were we at cruising altitude, it would be a full 8 minutes sooner! We were lifting off at around 5:30am heading the the Orlando Film Festival last year to check out our film “Escape.” But this felt like all the escape needed. The idea that for a few hours you get to see a part of the world you only get to see so often is a welcome departure from the ordinary (Get it? departure?). Perspective-shifting.
Tips on capturing a sunset/sunrise/astrophotography from a plane.
1) Get a seat on the right side (details below), or make friends with people in exit rows.
2) Turn out any lights you can and wrap the lens and entire window in a dark blanket (mostly with astro shots)
3) If you don’t have much of a foreground, consider zooming in to use perspective to expand the color spectrum across the frame (for astroshots, stay wide if you want to avoid you’ll get star trails from a moving plane)
3) Show your seat mates the photos. They’ll feel a lot of better about sharing the window with you if they get to see those rad photos! Especially since their eyes can’t zoom like that.
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