Photoshop Blog

January 21, 2015 /Lightroom /Photoshop /

Life, Work, and Photography…from the Window Seat

My name is Julieanne Kost and I’m the Principal Evangelist for Lightroom and Photoshop at Adobe. Some of you may know me from the tips and tutorials that I’ve created or perhaps a few of you know me because of my photography and digital illustrations. If we’ve never met, well, hi.

I travel about 250 days a year, and, for better or worse, I’m required to fly to get to almost all of the places I visit. As a result, I spend a great deal of time on airplanes in those tiny, cramped seats with little to do but try to work or read.

Shooting photographs allows me to stay sane during those long flights, because what most people don’t know is that I have a bit of a handicap when it comes to flying; I am scared to death of it. I’ve always been afraid of flying, but during one particular 20-minute bout of turbulence in the middle of the Andes years ago, I found myself white-knuckled, fingers embedded in the hard plastic arm-rests. It was in that instant that the camera became a comforting buffer between the reality of that moment and my own thoughts.

Newark to Omaha, 2006

Newark to Omaha, 2006

I discovered that shooting pictures out of the plane window allowed me to view the scenery in a different context: not as the earth some 30,000 feet below, but as an immense, constantly scrolling image. As long as I could see the world as an image through an eyepiece rather than as a harsh, physical reality, the threat was less real. I became a spectator – an observer of the scene rather than part of it.

Aerial landscape photography wasn’t something I’d ever intended to do – it was a natural outgrowth of who I am (someone who loves to capture photographs of things that other people aren’t paying attention to) and what I was doing at the time (trying to find a creative outlet in the midst of cab rides, hotel rooms, and convention centers). It seems unbelievable that I’ve been photographing out of plane windows for more than a decade, but sometimes you choose your personal projects, and sometimes they choose you.

It’s interesting to me that none of my fellow passengers have ever asked me what I’m doing when I shoot photos out the window. I’m not sure if they think it’s a waste of time (because they’ve tried it and their images didn’t turn out), if they’re afraid to ask, or if they think it’s simply my first time on a plane and I’m giddy about sharing the experience and some images to my favorite social media site. Regardless, I love knowing that what they see and what I’m capturing are often completely different things.

San Jose to Denver, 2002

San Jose to Denver, 2002

As my enthusiasm for aerial photography grows, I’ve continued to try new approaches to it. Instead of limiting myself to taking photographs on commercial flights, I recently hired a helicopter as well as a small plane to see what the difference would make in my photos. These flights made me feel a bit more pressure to make something happen as opposed to let something happen – probably a reaction to the narrow window of time I had to photograph.  But despite my fear of flying, these flights were some of the most memorable minutes of my life and definitely fulfilled my goal to “try something new every year.”

More than anything, this project has validated for me that the full execution of an idea is worthwhile. Many people have taken a picture through an airplane window, but, as with so many other creative ventures, few have chosen to focus on the subject passionately for more than a decade. In that length of time, you develop an eye, a knack, and a craving for more. And no matter how much I travel, the window remains an undeniable source of inspiration that I can’t ignore.

To see more of my aerial landscape photography, please visit my portfolio at http://julieannekost.prosite.com

For in-depth tutorials, techniques and shortcuts for working with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom visit my blog at http://blogs.adobe.com/jkost/

To purchase my epub book “Window Seat – The Art of Digital Photography ad Creative Thinking”, visit the iTunes store here.

Denver to San Jose, 2003

Denver to San Jose, 2003

San Jose to Los Angeles, 2004

San Jose to Los Angeles, 2004

Salt Lake City, 2012

Salt Lake City, 2012

Salt Lake City, 2012

Salt Lake City, 2012

Salt Lake City, 2012

Salt Lake City, 2012

San Francisco Bay, 2014

San Francisco Bay, 2014

San Francisco Bay, 2014

San Francisco Bay, 2014

San Francisco Bay, 2014

San Francisco Bay, 2014

Lightroom, Photoshop

Join the discussion

  • By David Fraser - 1:32 PM on January 21, 2015  

    Fabulous work. Thank you for sharing these. I tend to use aisle seats, but after seeing these images think I’ve been missing a lot.

  • By Ian - 4:19 PM on January 21, 2015  

    You briefly mentioned taking photos from a helicopter that you hired.
    How was that experience? Did you manage to get good photos?
    I imagine being sat inside a mostly glass bubble with reflections bouncing everywhere or wasn’t that the case?

    • By Tan - 12:31 AM on January 22, 2015  

      I had the opportunity to shoot out of a chopper in Cape Town. It was an “open” chopper, so you basically hang out the side and take photos, thus avoiding the reflections and glare from the bubble. The chopper was pretty stable so I didn’t have any problems with bouncing.

  • By Rish - 6:34 PM on January 21, 2015  

    This is so amazing. Thanks for sharing!

  • By Bill Burkholder - 3:20 PM on January 22, 2015  

    Hi, Julieanne. I hadn’t checked out your site in a while. I’m happy to see you’re still with Adobe, and still in the window seat!

    Your work is as gorgeous as you are witty during your live training events.

    This inspires me to dust off the digicam.

  • By Peter Sanderson - 3:52 PM on January 22, 2015  

    From a truly wonderful online teacher it has been great to watch your window shots build over the years!

    Many thanks and great, inspiring images!!

    Peter

  • By Joseph Anthony - 9:45 PM on January 22, 2015  

    Hi I saw a request on adobe photoshop Facebook page asking for aerial photo entries. I have loads from years of flying and from remote parts of the world. I posted some and they don’t seem to stay there being removed each time I move away from the page and return. Please advise how I can submit to this brief. Thanks! Joe

  • By Joseph Anthony - 9:47 PM on January 22, 2015  

    Hi I see you have an aerial photos brief on the FB adobe photoshop page. I tried but each time they got removed when I navigated away. I have a huge archive of aerial images from all over the world some very remote regions that I think would be suitable for this brief. Please let me know how to submit to the Facebook page properly. Thanks. Joe Anthony

  • By Carsten - 12:03 AM on January 23, 2015  

    Hi, I really like these pics taken from an airplane. I also do fly quite a lot and love to see out of the window and watch the Earth pass by under us. How often would I have liked to take pictures of what I saw but never managed to receive good results through the windows.
    Thus I really would love to hear about the technical part. How do you manage to take such nice pictures through these curved and often scratched airplane windows? Do you use a smartphone or a compact camera or larger gear?

    Thanks, Carsten

  • By Ayman - 1:20 PM on January 28, 2015  

    Ooh my God so amazing picture without reflection huuh!

  • By John Stephanites - 6:28 PM on February 9, 2015  

    Love the Pics. The traveling must be hard enough let alone have the energy to take such great shots, thanks so much!

  • By Maik - 11:50 AM on March 26, 2015  

    Damn, those photos are beautiful. Keep ’em coming.

  • By Simon Abrams - 9:07 AM on April 23, 2015  

    Hi Julianne – we have met (briefly, at a meetup in NYC). Just stopping by to say I’ve learned a lot from your very thorough and informative tutorials, and I’m also a huge fan of your photography – aerial and otherwise.

  • By Jon. D - 4:25 AM on May 11, 2016  

    Impressive photography , I’m inspire to see those .

  • By Jon. D - 4:26 AM on May 11, 2016  

    Those photography are captured by professional photographer .

  • By Vong Chong - 2:54 AM on May 25, 2016  

    Great post and excellence sharing .

  • By Stt cam xuc - 6:14 AM on June 13, 2016  

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  • By Clip hài - 12:36 AM on June 14, 2016  

    Tuyển tập clip hai hay nhat ya nghia nhat

  • By Adana İnşaat Firmaları - 12:42 AM on September 19, 2016  

    Great blog . I’m inspire to see this post .