We are SAAB: Flying low over Trollhättan

Ready for departure
What a day! My previous visit to Trollhättan was December 19th and that day completely drained me of all energy. After the press conference, Tim and I ended up at ANA, the local Saab dealer. I reminded Tim that the two year anniversary of the 2010 convoy was coming up… Little did we know that the crazy dutch guys had been thinking the very same thing!

Fast forward to January 13th when Tim called me to ask if I enjoyed flying. “Tim, I love flying, but can’t stand the airports”. He explained his idea and I agreed it was a good one. It would be my first attempt at ground photography, but gotta start somewhere, right? “Be there bright and early!”.

RikardH drove me out to the airfield where I was greeted by a smiling Danish gentleman named Troels. It was almost noon and time for take-off.

On the port side of the air plane there is a small hatch that opens that allowed me to take pictures unhindered by the glass canopy. The wind was naturally quite strong on the outside, so I kept my lens shade in the bag. Having lost a lens cover while crossing the bridge over the river Kwai, I decided to approach this situation with greater care.

After a few laps the air traffic controller inquired about our flight plan. Troels explained that we were on a photo-shoot for a Saab event. That failed to impress them and we were told to either land or remove ourselves from the vicinity of the airfield. Turns out the factory is right next to the airfield and our circles were making everybody nervous.

I learned a few things: Next time I will draw a little map of the area so I can better explain where I’d like the plane positioned. I’d also use a smaller aperture and a wee bit faster shutter speed. f/5.6 and 1/2000 with ISO 200 would have served me better I think. f/5.6 not so much to gain DOF (everything is at infinity anyway), but to gain a little bit more sharpness from my lens. I ignored the sunny16 rule a bit, because I was trying too hard to expose to the right. On dark Saabs that works nicely, but when taking pictures of the ground with many white buildings surrounding the parking lot, that idea backfired on me. Also the red Saabs has a surprising tendency to burn out the red channel. Mea culpa.

All good fun though. In hindsight I should have done a trial run the day before. Not sure I could have managed to get an airplane at so short notice, but I could have tied a rope around my waist and dangled a bit from the roof or something while making “brrrr” noises.

It goes without saying that I had a great time at the event. Many happy faces, though our web admin Peter expressed it well when he said that it was also a day of mourning. The recent spat of news gives us renewed hope though.

NOTE: I have posted these in rather big sizes. I intended to only post the aerial shots big, but in the end they’re all big.

9 thoughts on “We are SAAB: Flying low over Trollhättan”

  1. If there were one gathering other than my own I would’ve liked to have attended, this surely was it. Thanks for such great images, Rune! Really gives a great perspective on the group.

  2. You’re being a little too self-critical, in my opinion. The shots turned out quite nicely. Have you done any post-processing in software ? – that might help tone down the white buildings in comparison to the cars. Also a very fast shutter speed, say 1/4000, with a correspondingly wide aperture, might have improved sharpness. I imagine there are a lot of small vibrations, in all directions, when flying in an airplane – you need to compensate for more than just the forward airspeed relative to the subject of the photo.

    I’m a Nikon DX shooter. I would have tried my 35mm f/1.8 prime lens for those shots, stopped down to 2.8 for sharpness.

    But I quibble – those are great shots.

    • I read somewhere that you need to be careful to not let the camera touch any part of the airplane. Basically your body will act as dampeners levelling out a certain amount of the vibration. Resting the lens on the window pane causes more vibration. So I was ‘stuck’ in the middle, having to shoot whatever happened to be in front of the wing. I started out fairly wide, but eventually got stuck at 70mm. Going much wider than about 50 would present the wing.

      I used Photoshop to process the raws. It sometimes works miracles, but with the shots I took on the ground the auto-algorithm was all over the place. The straight out of the camera shot was already near-perfect IMO. (well, for printing the pictures they would have to be made a little darker)

  3. Very nice pictures, Rune!
    A funny thing for me about those Saab-gatherings is that my eyes all the times “zap” from an interesting new Saab-model to a – just as interesting – old model – and vice versa… It underlines that Saab – all the way through – have been something very special design-wise!! 🙂 And clearly there is a red line (or two) running through the Saab-design-history! 🙂

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