Coasting over San Francisco Bay

A couple of days back, I took a ride over the San Francisco Bay Area aboard a Zeppelin. These airships are built in the town of Friedrichshafen in Germany. Currently there are only 3 of them in the world – the other two are in Japan and Germany. A small company named Airship Ventures based out of Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, owns and operates the only Zeppelin airship in the United States. The tours are very professionally run and the staff & crew at Airship Ventures obviously enjoy their work.

Zeppelins are ideal for aerial photography. There is no vibration (unlike a helicopter), it coasts at an easy pace, and engine noise is not an issue. Furthermore, two of the windows in our airship opened out allowing for shooting without any glass barrier. At our cruising altitude of 1000 feet, the 3 Canon lenses I carried – 24-105L, 70-200L f/2.8 IS, and 14L II – were equal to the task.

It was a beautiful day when we took off from the Oakland airport. Unfortunately, our departure was delayed by almost two hours and this meant the sun was already at a high angle by the time we got going – the worst possible conditions from the point of view of photography. The brilliant red of the Golden Gate Bridge, for instance, was obscured for the most part, and many of the other sights were similarly handicapped.

All said and done, we had a delightful time. Perhaps I will take a sunset ride in the coming months at which time the lighting is more conducive to photography. Some tours originating from Moffett Field fly directly over the runways at SFO allowing for views of the planes landing below.

Groundstaff guides airship to landing site

Groundstaff guides airship 'Eureka' down for landing
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Zeppelin comes in to land

'Eureka' comes in to land
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Loading passengers

Loading passengers
5D Mark II, 14L II

 
 
And off she goes!

And off she goes!
5D Mark II, 14L II

 
 
View from the cockpit

View from the cockpit
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge
5D Mark II, 14L II

 
 
Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge
5D Mark II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS

 
 
City of San Francisco

City of San Francisco
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 
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  • Serendipity | Susegaad - September 23, 2015 - 7:40 pm

    […] III lens. At first it looked like a Zeppelin to me. However, because of my frequent visits to Rajan Parrikar’s blog I knew that “Currently there are only 3 of them in the world – the other two are in […]ReplyCancel

  • Sanjeev - December 29, 2009 - 3:41 am

    terrific !!

    The blimp company might refund your ticket in exchange of these pictures.ReplyCancel

  • Sherrie Simpson - December 28, 2009 - 2:48 pm

    Rajan, Bruce and I were on this trip with you, and it is stunning to see what a good eye, good equipment can do. We have many similar shots, but none with the clarity of yours. I especially like your composition in the Alcatraz shot, with the ferry making its way toward the island. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photography with us.ReplyCancel

  • Nachiketa Sharma - December 27, 2009 - 10:44 am

    Incredible, Rajan! I had never seen the city like this! – NachiReplyCancel

  • Ajay Divakaran - December 27, 2009 - 10:29 am

    Spectacular shots. Please keep them coming.ReplyCancel

  • soter - December 27, 2009 - 3:28 am

    Hi Rajan,
    Good shots. keep it up.
    -soterReplyCancel

  • Agnelo - December 26, 2009 - 11:28 pm

    Wow! Love your photography! I’ve seen all these sights from land and sea never from this angle. Always enjoy your pictures of Goa!ReplyCancel

  • Atanu Dey - December 26, 2009 - 7:11 pm

    Awesome pictures. Makes me homesick for the Bay Area. Thanks.ReplyCancel

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