window seat

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Back in 2009 I shot the picture above from a plane flight on approach to SFO. On Flickr (at that link) the photo has had 16,524 views and has been faved 420 times as of now. Here’s the caption:

These are salt evaporation ponds on the shores of San Francisco Bay, filled with slowly evaporating salt water impounded within levees in former tidelands. There are many of these ponds surrounding the South Bay.

A series microscopic life forms of different kinds and colors predominate to in series as the water evaporates. First comes green algae. Next brine shrimp predominate, turning the pond orange. Next, dunaliella salina, a micro-algae containing high amounts of beta-carotene (itself with high commercial value), predominates, turning the water red. Other organisms can also change the hue of each pond. The full range of colors include red, green, orange and yellow, brown and blue. Finally, when the water is evaporated, the white of salt alone remains. This is harvested with machines, and the process repeats.

Given the popularity of that photo and others I’ve shot like it (see here and here), I’ve wanted to make a large print of it to mount and hang somewhere. But there’s a problem: the photo was shot with a 2005-vintage Canon 30D, an 8.2 megapixel SLR with an APS-C (less than full frame) sensor, and an aftermarket zoom lens. It’s also a JPEG shot, which means it shows compression artifacts when you look closely or enlarge it a lot. To illustrate the problem, here’s a close-up of one section of the photo:

See how grainy and full of artifacts that is? Also not especially sharp. So that was an enlargement deal breaker.

Until today, that is, when my friend Marian Crostic, a fine art photographer who often prints large pieces, told me about Topaz LabsGigapixel AI. I’ve tried image enhancing software before with mixed results, but on Marian’s word and an $80 price, I decided to give this one a whack. Here’s the result:

Color me impressed enough to think it’s worth sharing.



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I want to fly in one of these — an Airbus 380. From the looks of the interior shots here, it’s an upscale airport lounge that flies. But that’s not what interests me. What I like are the positions of the lower deck windows, which line up below the equator of the fuselage. For passengers like me, who like to look at the ground below, that provides a better angle.

Many of the shots here and here were made out the windows on either side of the rear galleys of a United B777, next to the space where people wait to use the toilets. These windows are lower than the ones by seats, and taller. That makes them ideal for shooting pictures. They are also why I would rather have a seat in the back of coach than in the “premium” coach seating on that plane, all of which is over the wings. Or even in business or first class. Flying for me is about flying. That requires a view. Not nice food and television at altitude.

On the A380, as on all jumbo jets, the wings are huge. Also, the whole top deck (the plane has two floors) has windows that angle skyward. So the percentage of windows that look down is not large. But I’d love to try it out.

Right now only Emirates is flying the A380 as a commercial plane. (<strike>There are cargo versions already in service.</strike>) So I’ll need to find an excuse to fly to one of that airline’s destinations. On the right plane. Might not be easy. (See comments for corrections.)

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