Boundaries Project. Part 4 / by Neil Alexander

For the next image in my Boundaries project, for which I have now I chosen the title "Crime?" I wanted to photograph someone photographing something that in the current climate, would quite likely warrant a stop & search under section 44 of the Terrorism Act or some other similarly preposterous grounds for infringing a photographer's fundamental rights. I figured I'd try and make an image of a "model" photographing planes at the airport around the perimeter fence of Manchester AIrport. So whilst researching, I stumbled across this location on Google Earth. Now I've lived in this area for over 30 years, and spent a not inconsiderable amount of time at this airport over the years. When I was a kid, we used to bike up to the service area of the airport and sit on a large grassy mound literally a stones throw from the main fuel terminal, probably about 1/4 mile in from the perimeter now. Manchester Airport has grown to a bit of a behemoth for us that live around it, it sprawls out in every direction, and there are planes overhead constantly. Anyway, I digress. When I found photographs taken by ordinary people of this area online, I figured that was where I was going to try this from first. I got out the OS maps, and worked out a route. I hauled my camera bag, lights bag, 2 lightstands, tripod & kitchen sink through waterlogged squelchy boggy fields for about 25 minutes. I negotiated a turnstile, rounded a corner and then suddenly the trees stopped and this view presented itself. I was right at the end of 05L in amongst the landing lights, just a few hundred yards from the end. I figured this was the perfect area to try for this shot.

It wasn't quite dawn when I first arrived, probably about 30 minutes to go, but bloody freezing! And I thought I'd go on my own this time and not risk taking a model as I didn't know what lay ahead. But if you've ever tried to photograph someone photographing something else, yet wanted to get both the photographer, and what he's trying to shoot in the frame, compositionally it's really rather tricky! This is kinda where I ended up. I set up an SB900 on a stand just to the front of the fence frame right, 3" gridded it and directed right at my, sorry "the model's" face. I'm zoomed out at about 80-90mm on the 70-200 F2.8, so it was quite a trek to and from the camera to check the frames, and the frost beneath my feet very quickly turned to mush. Eventually I was set up, and happy with my composition and lighting and then out of nowhere the fog descended. It go so dense in the space of about 15 minutes, that all I could see in the frame above was lights. Everything else disappeared! Then unbelievably as soon as it appeared, it went, replaced by the sun cresting the horizon. I am using a cheap eBay purchased remote to trigger the camera, which at the kind of range I was asking it work, was firing about every 7-8th button press. Which meant that co-ordinating a plane in the frame whilst fighting the now rapidly changing light, and checking the camera which meant a trudge through a now muddy trench, it all got a little testy!

So all in all as an image, it kinda works. I think the face is a little blown out, and the white balance may be off a little. However as the wife put it, "You just look like a weirdo plane spotter" - I think it kinda scuppers this from meeting the requirements of the project. Next.....