More on Murphy's Law : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Someone recently made note of the correlation between getting ready to take a shot and sudden, unexpected wind. I've got another one for you. Here's the scene: It's just before sunrise this morning, and I've trudged through crotch-deep snow to get to the top of this little hill to shoot some images of the San Miguel Mtns. near Telluride. I'm already agitated because I didn't have my snowshoes on tight enough, and lost the left one with my first step into deep powder. (luckily I'm shooting only 50 feet or so from my truck) Anyhoo, I'm anticipating sweet light on Wilson Peak, plunk down my camera bag and, just as I'm about to pull out the ol' Wisner, a jet rises up behind the very summit of the peak, leaving a brilliant, now alpenglow-colored contrail in its wake. Worse still, there's a slight breeze where I'm standing, but there's obviously NO movement up at 30,000 feet. The contrail stays put for the better part of an hour, finally mingling with and becoming less obvious amongst a mass of approaching storm clouds. Arrrrgh! Is there some mysterious yin-yangy thing going on out there?

-- Todd Caudle (, March 30, 2000


Yes. Airlines know photographers don't like contrails and like certain areas like the Grand Canyon and Arches Natl Park so they fly right over the top of them just to piss us off. If you had stayed in bed that aircraft would have gone over to Tin Cup just to get into my shot of the store. James

-- james (, March 31, 2000.

Todd: I forgot to mention in my comments on the wind problem that not only does trailer parks cause tornados, cameras are a major cause of contrails. This is easy to prove. Look at a few contrails. In a few you can see an airplane, but in many you cannot. Those where you cannot see the airplane are caused by cameras. Cameras especially are prone to cause contrails across beautiful sunsets and through georgeous cloud formations. Sometimes they can be very sneaky, only causing a contrail across the top corner of the negative, where you don't notice it on the ground glass. Incidentally, we still photographers aren't the only ones plagued with contrails. The movie makers lose lots of time waiting for contrails to dissipate. It's kind of unsettling to see the Indians chasing cowboys across the desert with contrails in the sky. Some of the lower budget films just leave them in and hope you won't notice. Doug.

-- Doug Paramore (, March 31, 2000.

Contrails have interfered with my photography more than any other single factor. It's getting to the point now that I consider myself very lucky to get a sky where they aren't a problem. Overcast conditions are rapidly becoming my favorite. Fortunately, the digital age offers a solution to the growing contrail problem.

-- Mark Windom (, April 01, 2000.

Just try taking a long exposure of the night sky WITHOUT getting a streak from airplane lights. Nighttime contrails, of a sort.

While we're on the subject of Murphys Law, am I the only one who routinely kicks the tripod right after a lengthy pre-exposure ritual? I bet I've done it, oh ten thousand times. Just wondering.

-- gollum (, April 02, 2000.

It's fun to have your 360mm Schneider fall out into your hands when you cock it because you didnt set the slide locks all the way. And dont you just love it when the swings and tilts move when you slide the holder in? After you have kicked the tripod legs and dropped the darkcloth in the prickle burrs?

-- Tony Brent (, April 02, 2000.

I've switched subjects and now I shoot contrails as art. In the southwest you can get some incredible formations and the contrail season runs from late October through May, the best time to be outside.

-- Kevin Kemner (, April 03, 2000.

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