Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Back in the day

I was trawling through some old photos (looking for some particular old photos funnily enough), and came across this sequence. It is an RNZAF A-4K Skyhawk doing a solo display over Wellington, turning hard over the innercity and blasting over our heads at the summit of Mt Victoria (and in hindsight clearing a pair of large radio masts by not very much. There is only one mast up there now, but back then there were two identical masts about 100 feet high). Click to enlarge.

I shot this on my dad’s mid seventies vintage and completely manual SLR with a 135mm zoom lens, on 200 ASA film. 400 would have been much better, but I wouldn’t figure that out for another few years.

It remains one of my favourite sequences, not only because I really like the middle shot as an image, but because of the potential of the first shot. Its under exposed, and blurry and grainy, but with better equipment and technique it would have been awesome. You’ll have to use your imagination a little :)
A tight turning jet, trailing smoke, wings covered in vapour, with a blurry city backdrop would have been a great action shot. I wonder if anyone else on the summit that day got it.
Its from 1990 (yeah, twenty freaking years ago), back when Wellington hosted an annual international endurance street race around the waterfront. As part of the pre race entertainment, there was usually an air display over the city and inner harbour of some kind. The hills and harbour provide a nice natural ampitheatre for this kind of thing. I figured the top of Mt Victoria would be a great place to watch from (as well as most of the good spots on the waterfront being restricted for the race). It was one of those dark cloudy northerly days we get often here, and Dad helpfully suggested I leave the camera at home since it would be too dark to photograph anything. He was pretty much right, since most of the shots on the roll are a mess.

An RNZAF Orion also displayed, and this shows how dark it was. It also dates the image, since they haven't been painted in those colours for more than ten years.
After the display was done I went down to the city to watch some of the racing. This being twenty years ago, there were still plenty of places were you could walk up to or sit on a fence and watch for free. As evidence, here are a couple of blurry BMW M3’s heading down Cable Street at about three times the normal speed limit

For locals, the building in the background is where the brewery bar is now located.

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