From the air

Coast of Ireland

Aerial view of the Irish coast near Wexford


The frustrating thing about air travel (for a photographer) is that there are always two panes of Plexiglass – the inner smeared by the oils from a thousand noses, the outer often frosted with ice crystals, and both sharply reflecting the glare of the cabin lights – between you and the world. If you're lucky enough to have a helicopter, like Yann Arthus-Bertrand or Jean Guichard, or if you just know someone who owns a light aircraft, like my friend John Neilson, you can take some extraordinarily lovely pictures. But if you typically travel in steerage, aerial photography is usually an exercise in frustration.

Or at least this had been my experience, until I heard about Julieanne Kost's Window Seat. I haven't read her book, but the simple knowledge that you could take acceptable pictures even from economy class encouraged me to try again. My results, from a recent trip, don't come close to those of any of the photographers named above, but they're better than I've been able to manage before.