Sunday, March 25, 2012


This B-36 shot from my Zorki 2-C is similar to a black and white from my Ansco Panda I posted on Flickr.  While the two images have very distinct differences, the perspective is very similar.  The Panda lens of around 50mm produces a wide-angle view close to that coming from the 35mm focal length of the Jupiter 12 on the Zorki.

The B-36, with a length of 162 feet and a 230 foot wingspan, was the largest mass-produced piston engine aircraft ever made.  Operational from 1949 to 1959, the B-36 never dropped a bomb or fired a shot against an enemy force.  One did, however, accidentally drop an H-Bomb on Albuquerque in 1957.


Jim said...

I try to always figure out what about an appealing photo appeals. I can't figure it out on this one. Maybe it's the perspective. Maybe it's that the contrast between the bright wing and the dark fueselage. But I'm not sure. Anyway, nice job.

Mike said...

The picture doesn't fit easily into any particular compositional scheme. I knew I liked it when I snapped the picture, but it would have been a good idea to explore the possibilities further at the time. I always feel a bit pressured for time when I am there, and there are so many interesting subjects awaiting examination.

It is always useful in attempting to understand a photo to just begin by describing to yourself what it is you see in terms of the elements of the composition and their relationships. I liked the slightly receding perspective provided by the 35mm Jupiter 12, and I thought it also did a nice job of rendering the fine details as well as the subtleties of tone and color. I think the converging lines of the wing and fuselage provide a good base for the over-all composition and the repeated forms of engines and props provide a kind of visual rhythm. The blue sky is an obvious choice for background.

One's personal experience can also be examined in relation to the picture for clues about the appeal of an image. I clearly am partial to old aircraft. The B-36 is a particularly interesting one because of its size, as well as the fact that it marked the end of the propeller age and the transition to new forms of flight design. In fact, the later models had a pair of jet engines added out near each wingtip. For me the photo does a pretty good job of expressing the fundamental characteristics of this flying giant.

The photo also inspired me when I got back home to look into the plane's history, and it was then that I found out about the accidental bomb drop. It turned out that the impact site was a place I had visited and photographed only a short time ago. Yesterday, I went back to the National Nuclear Museum and found a short description of the event that I had over-looked on previous visits. I also spent some time more closely examining the casing of the 42,000 pound Mark-17 H-Bomb, which was the same as the one that fell through the bomb bay of the B-36 just south of the airport.

Jim said...

Thank you for the "schooling" in photo appreciation, and for your interpretation of this photo.

I have had similar experiences to yours with this plane and photo when I've photographed cars and roads -- personal enjoyment of the subject followed by research from which I learn something interesting. Honestly, these things are what made me take more photos. What I've learned about composition and color has trailed, but would not have happened at all were it not for the personal experience of it.

Julio F said...

Mike, nice picture of one of the main players of the Cold War. I recently read a book about the SAC history, written by a pilot of one of these machines.

I remember a line in which a pilot asks to be taken to his plane, and the jeep driver asks, "Where in the plane, sir?"

The J-12 gave the right perspective for the shot of this giant.