About this iReport
  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view GeForce8800's profile
    Posted December 12, 2012 by
    Chantilly Highlands, Virginia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    What was your best moment of 2012?

    More from GeForce8800

    Space Shuttle Discovery


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     iReporter GeForce8800 had decided that 2012 was the year he would work on his aviation photography. Therefore, the flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery on the back of a 747 into Dulles airport in Washington DC in April this year provided the perfect opportunity to put this plan into practice. "It was special to me because I showed myself I'm no longer a casual snapshooter," he said. "In this business or hobby, you need to be the so-called early bird to get those shots." Getting up at 3am to drive down to Washington DC from his home city of Philadelphia to capture this moment on film was in the end, he said, more than worth it.
    - sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer

    Plane "spotters" such as myself look at life in terms of which aircraft have been seen at different airports around the world, and perhaps more importantly which have been photographed, this information to be relished within our community of dedicated enthusiasts(much like those who collect comics or baseball cards). But, there are certainly aircraft which are considered "Holy Grail" airframes to capture on film. Concorde. The last airworthy 707's. The 747SP. And, the Space Shuttle.

    On the morning of April 17th, 2012 I stood on the banks of Sully Road outside Dulles International Airport with hundreds of other people as we awaited the arrival of retired Space Shuttle Discovery, which was being carried on the back of one of NASA's 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft for eventual delivery to the Udvar-Hazy museum. There were so many cars that had pulled over it had created a traffic jam.

    Suddenly there were shouts from the crowd of "There it is!" and I instinctively brought my camera level with my eyes and found the aircraft in the viewfinder, praying my equipment would not resort to any of a variety of ways it had decided to fool me in the past. Inaccurate focus. Wrong ISO or White Balance settings. The wrong program or autofocus or metering mode selected by an unnoticed slip of the finger. The lens failing to communicate with the camera body at the last second.

    But this time was different; I had triple checked everything. I pressed my shutter halfway down and the focus locked on the aircraft as I began to pan the camera to keep it in frame and composed. I depressed that shutter all the way down to begin the continuous firing mechanism and began to pop 'em off. And just at that second, the sun came out, bathing the subject in beautiful soft sunlight for just the briefest of moments while the images got recorded.

    Once the aircraft had finished the first pass, a cheer went up as I checked my shots and realized I had nailed it, possibly the greatest moment of my career as an aviation photographer and certainly the best moment of 2012.

    I had promised myself on New Year's Day that I was going to do whatever it took to become a better aviation shooter. I would push myself and my skills to try to reach the levels of the greats in my field. I still have a lot to learn, but for once in my life I managed to pull it off.

    Here's to 2013!
    Add your Story Add your Story