An Austrian Village Called Fucking

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Note: Nowhere in this article will you find profanity or obscenity. This article contains pictures that I did not personally shoot but still shows my appreciation of the beauty of this world through other people’s lenses.

Being interested in Europe brought me to the websites that feature travelling off the beaten path in Europe. It’s no surprise because during my annual trips to France and Italy I really enjoyed more the small towns than the places frequented by tourists in big cities. There’s something in the laidback lifestyle in the rural areas that still fascinates me. However, this small village that I saw in the internet may qualify under my description of a laidback village but not under places frequented by tourists because it has become popular to the British people since the end of World War II where the British often go there just to strike a pose beside one or in all of the four village signs.

What made the village famous is the village name that has an identical spelling to an English word that is oftentimes uttered with profanity or obscenity (spelling and NOT the pronunciation). Ironically, the village has no tourist attraction other than its four road signs that mark its boundaries. They are just typical European road signs made of white-painted metal sheet with a blue border.

However, the road sign has the 7 letters F-U-C-K-I-N-G prominently written in the middle, which is the name of the village. The signs do not even say “Welcome to Fucking”,”You Are Entering Fucking”, or “Fucking Starts Here.”

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The Austrian village of Fucking (pronounced as foo-king) is in the municipality of Tarsdorf, in the Innviertel region, in Western Upper Austria. This village is near the Austrian-German border and also near the famous city of Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart. Despite having a population of 104 only and a small landmass, the village has become popular among the English-speaking tourists because of its name.

The red slash indicates that you are leaving the village limits

The red slash indicates that you are leaving the village limits

Since Fucking was “discovered” by tourists, their “hot” road signs were frequently stolen as souvenirs by some pervert tourists and this added burden to the taxes of the villagers because each sign costs around 300 Euros to replace. So in 2005 the signs were replaced with theft-resistant signs welded to steel and secured in concrete to prevent them from being stolen.

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Tarsdorf Mayor, Siegfried Höppl, said that officials were fed up with English-speaking tourists stealing the signs, and noted that with the newly-installed signs it would take all night to steal one. Höppl said that tourists, and the money they bring to the area, were welcome, but locals were sick of replacing the Fucking signs. (Wikipedia)

When all the villagers (known as Fuckingers, not Fuckers as claimed by another blogger) knew what their village name means in English, and owing it mainly to the annoying cost of replacing the road signs, some proposed that the name be changed. However, the Fuckingers voted against doing so. Mayor Siegfried Höppl stated that it was decided to keep the name as it had existed for 800 years, and further stated that “Everyone here knows what it means in English, but for us Fucking is Fucking—and it’s going to stay Fucking.”

I wonder if the wolves also enjoy Wolfing

I wonder if the wolves also enjoy Wolfing. It must be as peaceful as the Village of Fucking.

It was believed that the village was founded in the 6th century by a Bavarian nobleman, named Focko. The spelling of the name has evolved over the years. It is first recorded in historical sources with the spelling as Vucchingen, then changed to Fukching, then to Fugkhing. In the 18th century, it adopted its modern spelling Fucking which is pronounced with the vowel oo as in book. The ending -ing is an old Germanic suffix indicating the people belonging to the root word to which it is attached, thus Fucking Village means “The village of Focko’s people.” At first, the villagers were wondering why there are people stopping at their road signs to have their pictures taken until they learned what it means in English.

In 2005 it was reported that the village had 104 people and 32 houses. Below are screenshots of the village courtesy of GoogleEarth.

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This sounds amusing to English-speaking people but not to the local villagers who are described as very traditional. Some were even scandalized by couples posing in provocative positions near the road signs. Reports say that the villagers recently installed CCTV cameras near the four road signs in their attempt to deter tourists from filming themselves while having sexual intercourse in front of the Fucking signs.

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It’s true that some people with entrepreneurial spirit can make money out of the name. Some can sell shirts like “I Love Fucking in Austria” which, of course, refers to the village and not something else. I’m sure tourists would love to buy coffee mugs imprinted with “Souvenir from my recent Fucking trip.” A local shop will definitely attract tourists by putting up a sign that says “Fucking Postcards For Sale.” But it simply does not make sense to the villagers and it is not something for them to be proud of if their village’s name is maligned. They have a long history to protect and worth keeping as part of their heritage than desecrating it in the name of commercialism or laughed at by malicious tourists who give a different meaning to the village’s noble name. There is nothing profane in Fucking for it is the village of Focko’s people.

It’s also sad that almost all the articles that I read about Fucking have been written to ridicule the name and everything found on it like captions that say a fucking cat, a fucking house, a fucking apple, and a fucking windmill beyond the fucking sign. I have also seen a number of photos where people do scandalous pose in front of the Fucking sign. Below is a video clip of how an English-speaking host made fun of Fucking by pronouncing it the English way and using it in different context.

I was lucky to find a webpage that chronicled the visit of Japanese tourists in this little Austrian village. In the article, they described Fucking as “It is in this fantastic country, nestled in the picturesque countryside, lie the tiny little village of Fucking.” So positive, so inviting.

The author further wrote, “We were captivated by the beauty and tranquility of the small village. Japanese travelers tend to limit themselves to well-known travel spots like Vienna, but we think there’s something to be said for taking a day trip out to the countryside and visiting a village like Fucking to see the “real” Austria.”

Below is a video that shows the beauty of this quiet little paradise called Fucking. You can also hear the chirping of the birds in this video. The author even wrote a good advice. “A little tourism is probably a good thing for a tiny place like Fucking, but please try not to do anything that would trouble the locals, even if it is written on the signs.”

On the lighter side, the mayor of Tarsdorf better forge a twinning agreement with this US City that has a less vulgar name.

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Chapelle Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe

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This is probably the most fascinating site I’ve found in France. I see this awesome site every year since 2010 to 2012 and it never fails to amuse me. It’s still 2013, and who knows I may still have a chance to visit this chapel within the year?

This is the Chapelle Saint Michel d’Aiguilhe (Chapel of Saint Michael of the Needle) which can be seen near Le Puy-en-Velay, France. This little pilgrimage chapel is built on top of a 279 ft. volcanic formation. Its construction dates back to 962 (yes, not 1962) or roughly 1,051 years ago. Historians claim that the pointed rock formation where the chapel was built has been a sacred place even before the chapel was built.
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The chapel was said to be constructed upon the Bishop’s order to celebrate the return of Saint Michael from a walking pilgrimage to Saint Jacques de Compostela. As I got more interested at this chapel, I began to read every available material and found out a different version which says that in the Winter of 951, Bishop Godescalc of the French village Le Puy-en-Velay returned from a walking pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James, located about 1000 miles away, across the Pyrenees, in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. As a way of celebrating such feat, he ordered the construction of this small chapel on top of a towering volcanic plug in the center of the town.
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Aiguilhe is not really in my itinerary, neither am I a walking pilgrim on my way to Santiago de Compostela. My destination was a small town called Saugues, which is also significant to the walking pilgrims because it is along the main route to Santiago de Compostela and many pilgrims stay there to retire for the night. I am going to write about the little town of Saugues soon.
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The chapel can be reached by climbing the 268 stone stairs that wind up around the rock structure. This chapel is dedicated to the Archangel Michael, maybe because of his tendency to appear on mountain tops and other high places.
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Whenever I travel from Lyon to Saugues, I would know when we are near Aiguilhe when I see these giant statues of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph.
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Lost in Rouen? C’est impossible!

Place Saint Clement

Place Saint Clement


Another French City that is significant in the life of St. John Baptist De La Salle is Rouen, pronounced as “roo-ah.” In fact, St. John Baptist De La Salle spent his last days in Rouen. It is the historic capital city of Normandy and currently the capital city of Haute-Normandie Region.

There are several trains leaving Gare Saint Lazare in Paris everyday and travel time is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Tickets costs around 20Euros and can be purchased at any SNCF ticket office.

Upon reaching Rouen Rive Droite station, you can either go straight out and look for a bus or take the stairs going down to the Rouen Metro. The tramway operates on one line with two southern branches to Saint Etiennes du Rouvray and Le Grand Quevily. The network runs for 1.7 Kms underground in the city center and the remainder on the road surface.

Place Vieux Marché

Place Vieux Marché


Getting lost in Rouen is almost next to impossible because it is a small city and almost all of the interesting sites can be found within a comfortable walking distance. Several reference points can also be used to go back where you came from like the River Seine, the Cathedral, the Metro line , etc. This city that is often called as a Museum-City was the site of the martyrdom of Joan of Arc, convicted and then burnt at the stake in 1431 on the Place du Vieux Marché.
Bust of Ferdinand Magellan at Pont Boieldieu with Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Rouen at the background

Bust of Ferdinand Magellan at Pont Boieldieu with Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Rouen on the background

Every visitor will surely notice the half-timbered architecture and Gothic churches that can be found all over the place. Anybody visiting Rouen should not miss the following:

1. The Notre Dame de Rouen Cathedrale – a remarkable Gothic architecture.
2. Le Gros Horloge- the big astronomical clock.
3. The Church of St. Joan of Arc – a modern-styled church at the Place du Vieux-Marché, where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake.
4. The Church of Saint Maclou- a gem of flamboyant Gothic art.
5. Aitre Saint Maclou – an old parish cemetery created during the Black Plague in 1348. It became the site of one of the schools of St. John Baptist De la Salle. It is now occupied by the Regional School of Fine Arts.
6. Abbey Church of St. Ouen – fine stained glass.
7. Palais de Justice – impressive architecture.
8. Musée de Beaux Arts- museum of fine arts.
9. Musée de la Ferronerie – museum of wrought iron.
10. Place Saint Clement – where a bronze statue of St. John Baptist De La Salle can be found.
11. Church of St. Sever – where St. John Baptist De La Salle was buried.
12. Pont Boieldieu – a bridge that is lined with bronze busts of famous ocean explorers.

Le Gros Horloge

Le Gros Horloge

The Church of St. Joan of Arc

The Church of St. Joan of Arc


Bronze statue of St. John Baptiste De la Salle at Place Saint Clement

Bronze statue of St. John Baptiste De la Salle at Place Saint Clement


The Church of St. Maclou

The Church of St. Maclou


Entrance to the Aitre Saint Maclou

Entrance to the Aitre Saint Maclou


Half-timbered houses

Half-timbered houses

The Church of Saint Sever

The Church of Saint Sever


Fountain in front of the Church of Saint Sever

Fountain in front of the Church of Saint Sever


A fiery sunset in Rouen

A fiery sunset in Rouen

Department de la Seine Maritime at the background

Department de la Seine Maritime at the background

After the sun goes down in Rouen

After the sun goes down in Rouen

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Reims, France: Reems, Reyms, Rans?

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"L'ange au sourire" or the smiling angel can be found at the Catedral de Notre Dame de Reims

“L’ange au sourire” or the smiling angel can be found at the Catedral de Notre Dame de Reims


I was amused to find out that there are several threads in a number of online forums that asked for the correct pronunciation of Reims, a city in the Champagne Region in France. A lot of guesses and speculations were also posted but only a couple of respondents came close to the correct pronunciation.

Since I learned about St. John Baptist De La Salle in high school, I have been hearing that St. John Baptist De La Salle was born in Reims, France. All the teachers and Christian Brothers who mentioned the birthplace of the founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (Fratres Scholarum Christianarum) a.k.a. La Salle Brothers pronounced the birthplace to sound like “reems.” Some even pronounce it as “reyms.”
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In April of 2009, I had the opportunity to be with a pilgrimage group that visited the birthplace of St. John Baptist De La Salle and there I met Br. Christian Lemaire FSC, a French La Salle Brother. During his orientation about the city, he gave us a pocket map of the city and called it “reems.” However in his succeeding stories he called the city with something that sounded like “rans.” When he noticed our confusion, he quickly explained that the English pronunciation is “reems” but the locals would greatly appreciate it if they would hear us pronounce it as “rans.” Emphasis is given on letter R to pronounce it as if someone is trying to remove the phlegm from his throat, hence “rrrans.”
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Since 2009, I was fortunate to have visited Reims three more times every month of April which usually falls on April 30, the birthday of St. John baptist De La Salle. During my visit in 2012, I travelled with a different group of people and the usual orientation was done by Br. Christian Lemaire FSC and I asked him another question. My question was why are there signs that are spelled as Reims and others that are spelled as Rheims? He explained to me that Rheims is an English spelling and so it is pronounced as “reems” while Reims is the French spelling which is pronounced as “rans.”

Reims is as interesting as guessing how to pronounce it correctly. Aside from being the birthplace of St. John Baptist De La Salle, it is also known as the “Coronation City” of France. It had its share of glory even before Paris became popular. Reims is famous for its cathedral where generations of French kings were crowned.

The baptism of Clovis, the first King of France

The baptism of Clovis, the first King of France


Hotel de Ville - The City Hall of Reims

Hotel de Ville – The City Hall of Reims


Catedrale de Notre Dame de Reims

Catedrale de Notre Dame de Reims.
Night shot, long exposure


The rose window inside Catedrale de Notre Dame de Reims

The rose window inside Catedrale de Notre Dame de Reims


Gargoyles at the Catedrale de Notre Dame de Reims

Gargoyles at the Catedrale de Notre Dame de Reims


Hotel De La Salle - the birthplace of St. John Baptist De La Salle

Hotel De La Salle – the birthplace of St. John Baptist De La Salle

The Metro along Rue de Vesle

The Metro along Rue de Vesle


A giant mechanical spider . A regular attraction in front of the Catedrale.

A giant mechanical spider . A regular attraction in front of the Catedrale.

Pigeon

Pigeon

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Lost in Chinese Translation

Translating from one language to another is definitely a difficult task. Some translations that were either done through direct translation or translated based on how they are pronounced result into a funny translation or simply leave the reader with a “whaaaat?” reaction.

The following photos were taken during my recent visit to the beautiful cities of Fuzhou, Quanzhou, and Xiamen, all in Fujian Province of China. I have taken over 500 shots of scenic spots from this trip but my unexpected encounter with one Chinese sign with an English translation below it gave me a sudden tendency to look for more “strange” signs. I have no intention of making fun of our Chinese friends but simply would like to share the fun that I had seeing these signs.

Let’s start with signs that were simply misspelled.

Can somebody please tell me what is an elevaton?

Where should you go in case of fire?

Quick, run to the nearest emergent exit!

There’s fire, so what do we need? A fire extinguisher.

Where did the letter "i" go? Oh, maybe it went out at the emergent exit.

I have extingushed the fire, where should I go now?

Wait! That must be the emergent exit, so No Entering.

The two signs above show running men, so why can’t I?

Whatever happens, just don't run into me.

If you think the fire extingusher can’t beat the fire, then look for this one.

This will Oefinitely Oeliver more water than the fire extingusher

What? The Fire Hyorant has no water? Then say your sentiments here.

My first complain, why is your complain box locked?

Now that we have finally extinguished the fire, let us sit and relax as the following photos entertain us. These are results of literal translations.

So what should you look out for while walking in the park?

It simply means do not step on the grass and the flowers.

And remember to take a bath before you go to the park.

Better bring a disinfectant with you.

Well, going to the park requires so much effort. Why not just go to the nearest department store? Good thing that every floor has this directory to show the shoppers where to find what they want to buy. But wait! Did it really help me?

Unfortunately I did not check what is on the 8th floor, was it Phoebe Cates or a special section for Cats?


The 4th floor is definitely not for the casual ladies. I had second thoughts of going to the 5th floor because I am not sure if I am really ready to see what do gentalments wear in China. I thought of buying my mom a dinner set so I checked the 7th floor because it sounds like gourmet, and I was right. However, I still have to find out what is in the Cates Center. Maybe it’s a Cat Center. I hate the smell of cat poo and I feel like spitting, but wait!

I remember taking a dose of expectorant before leaving the hotel but I can't expectorate anywhere 😦

After hours of going around the deparment store, I feel so low for not finding the things I wanted to buy for my family. I’m really feeling so low.

Yeah, me too! I'm also too confusion.

Good thing that something positive hit me. The problem is, where will I keep it?

Well, I can't promise that until I figure out where to keep it.

I continued walking around to buy some gifts for my family but I don’t know where to get them. Good thing this shop’s sign tells me where to get the best gifts in Xiamen. But I got more confused where I can buy them, is it here, or there?

Now tell me, is it here or there?

Still not successful in buying gifts from China, I decided to just roam around and take pictures of beautiful sites. I thought of using the video function of my Nikon D3100 but this sign made me shout whaaaat?!!!

Should I post this on Facebook? My friends might LIKE it, but it's forbidden.

Well, my friends, China is a very beautiful country and there are lots of beautiful things to see there and a beautiful culture that everyone will enjoy experiencing. I hope you had fun reading this as much as I had fun taking photos of them. There were some translations in the restaurant menu that I failed to shoot but I know you already had fun with what I have shown you. There are English translations, however awkward it is, that we can easily understand because of the context in which it was used. However, there are also translations that, no matter how hard I tried, I simply can’t get the meaning.

And the WINNER is…

Huuuwhaaaaaaat?!!!

P.S.

Sorry, limited entertainment value. For those who did not get it, just go back to the picture above.


Xie xie!

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Boracay Sunset

Boracay is an island of the Philippines approximately 315 Kms south of Manila and 2 Kms off the the northwest tip of the island of Panay in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. It is politically within the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Malay, Province of Aklan and is under the admininstrative control of the Philippine Tourism Authority in coordination with the Provincial Government of Aklan. (Wikipedia)

I spent one weekend in the paradise island of Boracay with my friends and being my first time visit, I was really awestruck by the white sandy beaches, blue water, and clear blue skies of Boracay as shown in the picture above. However, the island slowly changes its character when the sun begins to retire until the break of a new day. For this blog, I will just focus on the sunset and write about Boracay’s nightlife in another blog.

At around 5:00PM, tricycles and hotel shuttles start to bring loads of people at D’ Mall and people start to converge along the White Beach area to witness a spectacular show called SUNSET.

Taking a snapshot of thise breath-taking sunset entails some careful adjustments in your camera settings. Take note that the sun is so bright that it can easily overexpose your shot. You have to take a lot of shots with different exposure settings. You will find out soon that changing your settings can give your photo a different output from what you see with your naked eyes.


Crimson skies may look attractive using our naked eyes but sometimes it may just be an ordinary shot of clouds with orange color. Make your photo more interesting by taking a silhouette of an object as your focal point. Some possible objects are, sailboat, person, a lighthouse, a ship, etc.

Try to avoid the Auto White Balance setting because it will deprive you of the chance to capture the warm golden tones of sunset. What you can do is to select cloudy or shade in your white balance so the camera will react by warming things up in your shots. You may also use a warm filter. On using filters, please remove any filter before attaching the warm filter. In my haste to catch the fast setting sun, I just screwed the wam filter on top of my neutral filter and so the effect became visible only when I viewed the pictures on my laptop. There was a clone of the sun from the reflection of the neutral filter bouncing into the warm filter.


In strong light conditions, some cameras will have a hard time focusing. It is more advisable to switch to manual focus to get your preferred focus.

Don’t stop shooting when the sun is gone, sometimes that’s when the magical color shift comes in. You no longer have the bright sun so you have all the time focusing on the colorful orange/yellow clouds and the warm blue skies.


Another thing that you have to carefully consider is to make sure that your horizon is pefectly level. You don’t want to see a sailboat that looks like it’s climbing uphill.

The sun is a very strong source of light. Although it’s so nice to look at, avoid looking at the sun too long because it can damage your eyes.

Enjoy shooting!

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Window Seat, Please!


I am privileged to have a job that gives me a chance of taking frequent flights, and a common request that I make during short-haul flights is “window seat, please.” During long-haul flights (typically beyond six and a half hours of non-stop flight), I prefer to take the aisle seats since that makes it easier for me to go to the lavatory and to walk around to improve my blood circulation. Well, that is not an absolute rule for me in my seat preference because I would also ask for a window seat even in a long-haul flight when I know that I will be catching the sunrise or the sunset a few minutes before the plane lands. I just have to make sure that I have my camera within my reach when the sun starts to give the clouds a different color. In 2009, during a flight to Seoul, South Korea and while we were flying above the clouds, I saw the most awesome sight of fluffy clouds turning orange below us while the sky above us is still dark and slowly turning bright as the sun rises. Darn! My camera was at the overhead bin and I am too shy to disturb the guy seating beside me who is in deep slumber. I missed that shot that could have been one of my favorite shots taken from the airplane window.

Taking shots from the airplane window is fun because you capture a scene that you do not regularly see from our normal vantage point. So here are some tips to readers who might be travelling by air soon with their camera.

Put your camera within your reach. You don’t want to be in the situation I described above. You can put your point and shoot camera on your pocket or your DSLR Camera bag under the seat in front of you. However, some flight attendants would remind you that your camera is an electronic device and that it may affect the plane’s navigation instruments especially if the plane is on its final approach. Well, Discovery Channel’s MythBusters proved that the radio signals emitted by cellphones are not strong enough to make the plane’s landing instruments to malfunction. Some other airlines don’t mind if you use your camera onboard. If there is a warning against using a digital camera, better comply.

Find a good subject. It may be a cloud formation, an island, a mountain, or another aircraft flying nearby, just like this photo I took on April 26, 2010 onboard an Airbus A-380 while entering the French airspace.

Shutter Speed 1 /1250 Aperture f/4.5 ISO 100

These two shots were taken on our way to Shanghai, China.

Shutter Speed 1/200 Aperture f/14 ISO 80

Shutter Speed 1/640 Aperture f/8 ISO 80

This was taken over Putrajaya, Malaysia.

Shutter Speed 1/400 Aperture f/4 ISO 80

This island was spotted just a few minutes before we land in Manila from a trip in Kajang, Malaysia.

Shutter Speed 1/200 Apetrure f/4.5 ISO 80

It may be better if you include some of the plane’s parts in your composition such as the wings and the engine. This will give you a more interesting shot compared to just capturing the clouds in your frame.

Shutter Speed 1/200 Aperture f/8 ISO 80

Shutter Speed 1/320 Aperture f/8 ISO 80

Don’t let your lens touch the window. Some people stick their lens to the window thinking that it would lessen camera shake. Wrong! The whole plane vibrates during flight and having your lens in contact with the window would only extend the vibration to your camera. Don’t position your camera more than 2 inches from the window either. There is a big chance of capturing your own reflection on the window. Look at this picture that was taken somewhere between Lyon, France and Rome, Italy. The view is awesome, the color of the wing is striking, composition is good, but look at the upper portion of the picture and you can see a reflection of the camera lens.

Shutter Speed 1/1600 Aperture f/4 ISO 80


The key is to use a lens hood or your free hand to block the reflection. Position your lens to a point of almost touching the window so any reflection would not be visible in the frame and vibration can be avoided. The lens hood is also good at avoiding glares from strong light source. Notice the glare from this shot taken by my Dad on their way to Davao City.

Shutter Speed 1/250 Aperture f/5.6 ISO 100

Include a portion of the window in your composition. This can have a framing effect that shows a portion of the plane’s interior while the exterior view can be seen through the window. Just make sure that you have the correct exposure setting because the camera might pick the dark interior and overexpose the bright exterior. Don’t use AUTO setting and turn off your flash if you are in Manual setting. Try to use a faster shutter speed if your want to freeze the motion especially when the plane is just about 100 feet from the ground.

Shutter Speed 1/1600 Aperture f/4 ISO 100

Shutter Speed 1/500 Aperture f/2.8 ISO 400

Don’t just take pictures of the view outside. Take advantage of the strong light from the window to take a silhouette shot of your travelling companion. I feel sorry that I cannot find my silhouette shot inside the plane.

Lastly, and I think the most tricky, is to have a shot with the plane’s pilot. In my case, I always listen to the announcement stating the names of the pilots. Having trained at the country’s premiere military academy gives me the privilege of knowing people in the Air Force who eventually shifted to a private career at commercial airlines. The first photo is with a pilot who is a batch lower than my batch during our cadet days. He was our pilot during my trip to Taiwan in 2007. Second picture is with a pilot who has been my classmate in grade school and high school who pursued a military career and soon moved to a commercial airline. He was our pilot during our trip to Malaysia in 2009.

Enjoy shooting from the airplane window!

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