Woody Packard

Words + Pictures


These images were made with my Canon s95, through not-so-clean double plexiglass windows. They required careful and fairly heavy-handed processing, but hold up well to printing.

For an interactive version of the Google Earth comparative views, check out this page. It will take a while to load the several iterations of Google Earth that are displayed on the page, but once it's loaded you can explore the area around these views.

Just after 8:45am on January 5, 2011, Delta flight 4876 pulled away from the gate and headed for the de-icing area in Missoula, Montana. A few minutes later it taxied for the end of runway 11 and was cleared for takeoff. At 9:11 the pilot pressed the throttle to the dash and our Canadair CRJ 200 pushed its passengers to the backs of their seats. The nose lifted, and we became airborne. I had bargained for a window seat, as I always do. At first there was little to see, being on the very western edge of Mountain time, a week and a half from the winter solstice, at 47° north latitude. But out of the gloom, as the last drops of de-icing fluid rolled across the window of seat 4D, a gray landscape appeared. At 9:13:09, looking southwest, we crossed the broken branches of Clark Fork as it meandered toward the Bitterroot. At 9:13:27 we passed a prominent oxbow in the Bitterroot that marks the southwest edge of town. By 9:17:31, we had climbed above pale peach-colored clouds to a blue sky.
  I know this not because I was looking at my watch and taking notes, but because I was taking pictures with a small digital camera. Along with the image data it captures, it records, to the second, the time on its clock. This data can be used to track the entire progress of the flight. By plotting the identifiable views and interpolating the unknowns, each of the images can be located on Google Maps, and compared to the same view on Google Earth.
  The existence of Google’s archive of images begs the question, Why photograph what has already been photographed? For me the answer is this small collection of images, taken under conditions that would render most aerial photography useless. There were overcast skies and fog. The ground was covered with snow. The early light was low, causing deep areas of shadow. Bad if you are looking for information about the surface of the earth, but good if you are going for its structure and form.

close notes—back to pictures

Sunset Peak

Sunset Peak

~ 2110105-021

Sunset Peak, near MacKay, ID in Salmon-Chalis National Forest