During my short photography assignment in Alaska, we found some time to stop by and photograph seaplanes at Lake Hood Seaplane Base directly across from the airport in Anchorage. Lake Hood offers seaplane pilots a place to dock their aircraft and a waterway to take off or land. It’s the perfect location for taking some exposures of a variety of small aircraft in a beautiful setting. For the above shot, I was looking for a unique angle to show off the aircraft. I got the idea to try out my 17mm lens and see if I could keep the wing tip in focus as well as the body of the aircraft. The lens is wide enough that the entire airplane is in focus even at f/4.0. I like how the wing tip provides an interesting foreground to the image, the wing leads your eye the body of the aircraft in the mid-ground, and the sky and water serve as the background. This composition breaks the image into thirds, from top to bottom.
It was stormy most of the time we were in Alaska, but I prefer to photograph outdoors when there are clouds in the sky for added interest and texture. We explored the base and captured some shots while waiting for the sun to set. There are dozens of planes docked at Lake Hood at any given time. We also enjoyed watching several aircraft land and take off from the central waterway.
As the sun started to set, I decided to break out a speedlight and attempt a portrait next to one of these aircraft of the contract videographer I was with. Trevor was a good sport as I took a test shot with a YN-560 II flash on a light stand modified with a white shoot-through umbrella positioned camera right. (See my recommended flash gear.)
I repositioned the umbrella a little closer to Trevor and then added a second speedlight on the railing behind him aimed to illuminate the aircraft. I fired a few more test frames and ended up with this shot just as it started raining.
This shot is a good example of how simple flash photography can be. sometimes it’s just a matter of pointing your flash at the subject and experimenting until you get a compelling result. Here’s a shot of the light setup:
Many of the photos in this post of seaplanes in Anchorage Alaska are available as stock photography. Leave a comment on this post or contact me on Facebook to enquire about licensing.