Snowbirds and Cameras

By Gloria Hildebrandt

The Back Story: Organized by Halton Hills Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Halton Hills claimed to be the most patriotic town in Canada, by registering 57,073 flags flying by Canada Day, more than any other town in the country. Today the Snowbirds saluted the town by flying from Acton, over the Niagara Escarpment at Limehouse, past Georgetown.

What happens when your principal photographer calls to say he can’t make it to photograph the Snowbirds’ flypast over Halton Hills, and will you go and take photos, or Why I Hate Cellphone Cameras. And he’d like a shot of them flying over the Escarpment maybe. Yeah, right.
So the worst that can happen is that I’ll photograph nothing. Just a waste of time. OK, so I go to a place where the sky’s fairly open and I think I’ll get the best chance at capturing the planes fly by over Escarpment lands between Limehouse and Georgetown.
Bright sky. Point the cellphone camera at the sky. See only my face reflected in the dark screen of the phone. It is not set for a selfie. It’s so bright, I can’t see anything. There’s no viewfinder, the biggest pain about the cellphone camera.
I snap a few photos of people parked waiting for the flypast. Maybe that’s all I’ll get.

People on the side of 22 Sideroad, waiting for the Snowbirds to show.

The Snowbirds are late. Unless they already flew by, so low that we didn’t see anything at all. I’m tired of waiting.
Then I hear “There they are!” and I tell myself to calm down, make sure the camera is on, point in the direction of the silent specks in the sky moving in formation, and click the camera icon. Repeatedly.

People look at the Snowbirds, visible in the upper left corner of the photo.

Try to keep the planes in the screen. Can’t see a thing though, in the bright sunshine. Shoot blindly.

Snowbirds flying past.

They are about halfway past when I hear the roar. They fly faster than the speed of sound. When you first hear them, they’re already heading out of sight.

The roar they make comes after they’ve passed.

I think that’s it, wonder if I’ve caught anything at all on camera.

The snowbirds will soon be out of sight.

I head back to my car. See a man with a real camera in front of his face. What’s he photographing? I look over my shoulder and far off, in the east, over Georgetown, I see the Snowbirds flying spectacular, graceful, loop-de-loop formations. And I’m missing it. They don’t bother flying stunts over the open countryside. They wait until they’re over crowds gathered in towns. Before I can get my cellphone camera up again, they vanish completely in vapour trails.
Oh well.
This is what I hate about cellphone cameras.


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Gloria Hildebrandt

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