Top 5 Photos Taken From Airplanes

It’s the end of the year, and that means it’s time for some Top X lists. I’m going to post a few of these today because—oh, I don’t know. I’m bored, and USC isn’t in a bowl game this year.

Let’s start with airplanes. A couple of months ago I put up a picture taken from an airplane window and S1AMER commented, “How come when I’m on a plane, and there’s a gorgeous view outside, the window’s always too damned dirty to make decent photography possible? Kevin gets a beautiful shot, and all I ever get a smeary mess.”

Here’s the strange thing: this is totally true. In the past, my pictures from airplane windows have all been lousy. The wing is in the way, the window is smeared and filthy, the light is dreary, etc. And then, suddenly, I took a bunch of pictures in a row that were really good. I don’t know how or why—though Photoshop is certainly a part of the answer. In any case, here are my top airplane window photos.

1. Above Greenland

This is on a flight heading west from Dublin to Los Angeles. I’ve made this flight many times and never captured anything decent. Until now.

October 25, 2017 — East coast of Greenland from Aer Lingus flight 145

2. Above Tustin

These are the blimp hangars at the old Tustin Marine Corps air station a few seconds before touchdown in Orange County. The sun was shining through the clouds just right.

June 16, 2018 — Tustin, California, from Southwest flight 1818

3. Above California

This is a pure layer of clouds—very artsy!—but note that it was significantly Photoshopped. The left portion of the sky originally had a lot of glare from the sun, but I removed it and made the entire sky match the featureless dark blue of the right side. It was taken about five minutes before touchdown at Orange County airport.

June 16, 2018 — Somewhere above California from Southwest flight 1818

4. Above Far Rockaway

This was taken shortly after takeoff from JFK in the early morning.

September 15, 2018 — Far Rockaway and Atlantic Beach, Queens, from JetBlue flight 213

5. Inside John Wayne Airport

I don’t have five good pictures taken from airplanes, so here’s a related filler shot. I took it when I arrived home and just happened to see this view from the airport window. I stopped to take a picture, which turned out to be very nice in black and white.

June 16, 2018 — John Wayne Airport, California

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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