Jets in the Canyon

Games at warp speed.

Dec 29, 2014: I was at Father Crowley Point peering down Rainbow Canyon on the western boundary of Death Valley National Park when I caught sight of the approaching jet over the ridgeline of the Argus Range. This is the one section of the park where the US Air Force retains special training rights.

Positioned near the edge of the canyon wall, I was totally unprepared for what was coming. Fortunately, the 70-200mm telephoto zoom was mounted on my camera. The show began and concluded in a flash, and I had no time to check my camera settings or switch to burst mode. These were all one-shot, centre focus point takes. I found out later that the jet was a Boeing F-18 Super Hornet. They get down low into the Rainbow Canyon – I wonder what it would look like to a hiker on the canyon floor.

I waited at the same spot for another hour hoping for another pass, this time with the new 100-400L IS II lens. Just as I was returning to my car, a jet swooped down and barely cleared Highway 190. I have combined both the passes in the sequence below.

US Air Force fighter jet in Rainbow Canyon (from Father Crowley Point)

Approach
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
US Air Force fighter jet in Rainbow Canyon (from Father Crowley Point)

Lining up
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
US Air Force fighter jet in Rainbow Canyon (from Father Crowley Point)

At the head of Rainbow Canyon
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
US Air Force fighter jet in Rainbow Canyon (from Father Crowley Point)

90º roll
5D Mark III, 100-400L IS II

 
US Air Force fighter jet in Rainbow Canyon (from Father Crowley Point)

Swoops down (right over Highway 190)
5D Mark III, 100-400L IS II

 
US Air Force fighter jet in Rainbow Canyon (from Father Crowley Point)

Clears Highway 190
5D Mark III, 100-400L IS II

 
US Air Force fighter jet in Rainbow Canyon (from Father Crowley Point)

In the canyon
5D Mark III, 100-400L IS II

 
US Air Force fighter jet in Rainbow Canyon (from Father Crowley Point)

Shooting past
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
US Air Force fighter jet in Rainbow Canyon (from Father Crowley Point)

Up close
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 
Rainbow Canyon from Father Crowley Point

Rainbow Canyon and Panamint Valley
5D Mark III, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II

 

Check out this video for some spectacular footage (Note: language NSFW).

 
 
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