24 Feb 2016

From above

Camels -Lighthouse Beach,Port Macquarie,NSW. Photo taken three weeks ago from a floatplane which gives scenic flights out of Port Macquarie Harbour.
After the first world war there were hundreds of surplus military planes in the US and discharged pilots bought them for a few hundred dollars each and then flew them around the country "barnstorming"-giving acrobatic displays and taking locals up for joy flights for a few dollars. Charles Lindberg,the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic made his start in aviation in this way.

Now all aviation is tightly controlled and barnstorming is long gone.The floatplane on the Hastings River at Port Macquarie is a reminder of how informal flying used to be. A plane,a basic pontoon,a pilot,a canvas gazebo for shade on the shore,a ticket seller and a deck hand to tie the plane up.Check in time 2 minutes before flight departs. Fill in the form giving personal details,put on the flotation device,climb aboard,listen to the emergency procedure,do up your seat belt,put on your headphones,hang on and watch out for dolphins on the "taxiway".  Enjoy the flight.

I only had my Leica X1 with me when I took the flight. A longer lens would have been useful but I am pleased with this one shot. I am surprised that the resolution on the photo is so good as it is a big crop and it was taken through the perspex side window of the plane.These Cessnas and Pipers invairably use Lycoming or Continental horizontally opposed 4 cylinder engines which are very reliable but not at all smooth. So you need to ensure that the camera and your hands/armsare not touching the window and to use a very high shutter speed-I used 1/2000th-so as to minimise the effect of vibration. You also need to ensure that the camera is not trying to focus on the window. Using manual focus is one way to avoid this.

The camels in the photo give beach camel rides.There are tens of thousands of feral camels in the Australian deserts. They were originally introduced in the 19th century for desert transport and they came with their Afghan handlers. The Afghans have gone but the camels stayed and bred. Now Australian camels are prized for their genetic diversity and are even exported to the Middle Eastern Gulf States for camel racing .

Floatplane Hastings River,Port Macquarie

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