Shooting at the end of the world in Perth, Western Australia

QantasLink Bombardier Q400 VH-QLD landing in Perth
QantasLink Bombardier Q400 VH-QLD landing in Perth  D7000, 300mm 2.8, 1/60 @f/14 Iso 100

Coming from Toronto, there is pretty much no further major-city than Perth, Australia, and I had the chance to visit for a few days and spent several hours at the airport to see what I could see!

I flew in from Sydney and was amazed at how beautiful and relaxed the city of Perth is, considering how far away from anywhere it is, Below the big skyscrapers, there is a long green park that borders the water and it’s all walking distance from most of the hotels. You can even see planes coming into and out of the airport off in the distance. Getting to the airport took a little while on public transit, but one of my favorite things is just driving around and watching day-to-day life in new places, so it wasn’t a chore. The bus dropped me off at the circle at Brearly and Dunreath.

Once at the airport though, I wish I had had my own car because I hadn’t quite committed to memory the route to the viewing platform, and without a data plan on my phone, I was left hiking along Dunreath Drive in the hot, hot sun with waning confidence that I was on the right path! Also, stupidly, I hadn’t brought any water and my backpack wasn’t that light. Finally, I decided to cut my losses and hiked back to a parking lot where I spotted some local police, and they not only confirmed my route, but offered to drop me off a mile or so down the road right at the platform! Very cool guys…

PER in all it's glory, along with the red X marking the viewing platform.
PER in all it’s glory, along with the red X marking the viewing platform.

 

Departing aircraft pass by the viewing platform and everyone gets their shots
Departing aircraft pass by the viewing platform and everyone gets their shots

The platform itself is a very nice and large open structure but you can hop down onto the hillside to finesse your angles and backgrounds.

Rush-hour!
Rush-hour! QantasLink VH-NXE, a Boeing 717-200 on short final, with a Jetstar A320 VH-VGN turning base.

In preparing this post, I was surprised to learn that I hadn’t been seeing an original DC-9 here, but a relatively fresh Boeing product. After Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas in 1997, they took the planned MD-95 aircraft and carried it through to production as the 717-200. This one even has a gravel deflector on the nose wheel, used for rough-field landings. I had only ever seen those on old 737-200’s I flew on as a child in Canada.

 

 Another 717, VH-NXH, showing off it's reverse thrust profile.
Another 717, VH-NXH, showing off it’s thrust-reversers. Notice the heavy heat shimmers at this distance and magnification. D7000, 300mm 2.8+ TC-20E III, 1/2500 @ f/5.6, Iso 200
 Jetstar VH-VGN, an A320.
Jetstar VH-JQX. D7000, 300mm 2.8, 1/1600 @ f4, Iso 200
AirAsia A330-343 9M-XXI
AirAsia A330-343 9M-XXI. This aircraft was barely a year old when I caught it coming in from Kuala Lumpur (KUL).
Go-around! Virgin Australia's Embraer ERJ-190AR VH-ZPB
Go-around! Virgin Australia’s Embraer ERJ-190AR VH-ZPB after a rejected take-off attempt by a Cobham BA-146 VH-NJL. I obviously wasn’t prepared with a lens wide enough for the whole aircraft directly overhead.
Tigerair VH-VNO A320
Tigerair VH-VNO A320
Where there's smoke, there's a 777 grabbing onto the earth with all 12 tires...
Where there’s smoke, there’s a 777 grabbing onto the earth with twelve main tires…this aircraft has since been returned to it’s lessor and no longer flies for SA. D7000 300mm 2.8, 1/2500 @ f/4, Iso 200

I continued on my voyage around the world with another Singapore 777 a few days after this shot, and their cabin service, even in Economy, was lovely. Far better than any North American airline I’ve flown. And Changi airport, in Singapore, was crazy huge and beautiful. If you get the chance, even with only a transfer, I highly recommend stopping there.

IL-76 21045 from the Chinese Military parked on the field during the initial hunt for MH370 in March 2014
IL-76 21045 from the Chinese Military parked on the field during the initial hunt for MH370 in March 2014. D7000, 55-200mm f4/5.6, 1/250 @ f5.3, Iso 500

There were a number of Chinese military aircraft in Perth during my visit, which happened just after MH370 vanished. This shot was taken from the International terminal the day I flew out to Singapore. Another reason to always carry your bodies and lenses in your carry-on while flying, because you never know what you might see from the departure lounge. The quality is less than stellar because, for whatever reason, I didn’t grab my 70-200 2.8 and instead had to bump up the iso quite a lot due to the dreary thick cloud layer. The most important thing when shooting from inside, though, is to find some clean glass *without* reflections to shoot through. You will probably have to put your lens hood right up against the glass in order to cut out reflections of the ceiling lights and even then it’s possible that some of them still may appear, so finding the best spot all-around can be very tough, but oh so worth it!

And that was Perth Airport, albeit only a few hours worth. If I had it to do all over again, I would have spent more than 3 or 4 hours, brought water (key!), hired a car to check out some different locations around the perimeter, and had access to FlightRadar24 to better know what flights were coming and going. Still and all a great airport for shooting with a nice mix of Australian and Asian airlines. And the city of Perth was tremendously laid-back and beautiful. Definitely going back one day!

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