Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

We had two December 25ths last year

with 33 comments

Unlike most people, Eve and I lived through two December 25ths last year. The first one began in our hotel across from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in the Philippines, where we boarded a flight for Taipei. The second December 25th began over the Pacific Ocean at the International Date Line during our flight from Taipei to San Francisco. That second December 25th ended in Austin after our third and final flight.

The cloud pictures I took through the plane’s window between the Philippines and Taiwan turned out to be the last photographs of any kind I took on our trip, and so this 22-episode Philippine travelogue comes to an end.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 25, 2020 at 5:49 AM

33 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I always think how solid clouds look from above.


    February 25, 2020 at 6:07 AM

    • Still, I take it you don’t see them as so solid that you’d try to stand on one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 25, 2020 at 6:14 AM

      • I have thought it possible, be like walking on a bouncy castle made out of meringues, but I won’t be trying it any time soon 😆


        February 25, 2020 at 10:00 AM

  2. I always find looking at clouds fascinating. Great shots from above, Steve!

    Peter Klopp

    February 25, 2020 at 7:46 AM

    • Airplanes have let us look at clouds from above as well as from below, as Joni Mitchell sang in her now-classic “Both Sides Now.” The view from planes has added to the perennial fascination people have always experienced looking up from the ground.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 25, 2020 at 7:51 AM

  3. The clouds in the first photo suggest grasses blowing in the wind, and the second brought to mind O’Keeffe’s Sky Above Clouds IV. The last is my favorite. The combination of elements — especially the striated clouds — really do add up to more than the sum of the photo’s parts.


    February 25, 2020 at 7:50 AM

    • I took the first picture obliquely, trying for a pleasant composition, and in doing so I unbound myself from a conventional orientation. In contrast, the second picture plays up the horizontality of all those clouds spread out parallel to the unseen earth. The third picture is unlike any I recall taking before, with the top half seeming to come from a different reality than the bottom half, as you implied. A happy sum indeed.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 25, 2020 at 8:00 AM

  4. That’s how Santa Claus does it!!!

    Jason Frels

    February 25, 2020 at 8:39 AM

  5. I also thought of O’Keeffe. Cloud photography outside of airplane windows has always been a favorite activity of mine. Indeed, I posted one in January on our flight to Newark, which eventually led us to Iceland.

    Michael Scandling

    February 25, 2020 at 10:24 AM

  6. Beautifully done, Steve. I particularly like the portraits.

    Peter Hillman

    February 25, 2020 at 10:28 AM

    • Thanks for letting me know. We see pictures of clouds in portrait orientation much more than in landscape orientation, which is one reason to go for vertical framing.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 25, 2020 at 10:48 AM

  7. That doesn’t happen often!! The clouds are beautiful.


    February 25, 2020 at 3:43 PM

  8. I wonder if Santa Claus showered you with presents twice. 🎅🎅


    February 25, 2020 at 9:18 PM

  9. I’ve been traveling across international date lines for many years in my visits to the (so far) 50 countries I’ve seen, and I never tire of looking at clouds from the unique perspective of what I’ve come to call aboveness. One of my most memorable was on a 4th of July, when I watched a fireworks display from above a thin cloud cover, rendering it all into a likeness of a pastel watercolor. I was not able to photograph it with what I had at the time, but I’ll never forget that evening..


    February 26, 2020 at 1:59 AM

    • Looking down through thin clouds at fireworks must have been a unique experience indeed. I like your word aboveness. You may or may not be surprised that when I searched for it I got tens of thousand of hits. With 50 countries, you’re well ahead of most of us.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 26, 2020 at 7:24 AM

  10. I understand the theory or reality of the international date line but it still seems odd that a day can happen twice. It’s not hard to understand your appreciation, and ours, of all those clouds and from a perspective one only gets by flying. I’ve only flown once, to California. The trip out was all blue skies. But the trip back was above thunderheads over Wichita Falls and Dallas. The ride wasn’t particularly enjoyable but seeing the topside of those huge clouds was. And also the view of seven other flights all of us circling waiting for safe landing. I am glad your flights were all smooth.

    Steve Gingold

    February 26, 2020 at 6:07 AM

    • For a stationary person the day would happen only once; it’s the rapid movement of the plane, coupled with the fact that we live on a sphere, that allows for the double day (with each being shorter than a normal day).

      I take it you didn’t manage to get any pictures of those thunderheads over Texas, or else you probably would’ve mentioned it. Our flights all went okay; the drag was having to wait more than five hours in the Taipei airport for our connection to San Francisco.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 26, 2020 at 8:49 AM

      • No, I didn’t. All my gear was stowed in baggage. I was challenged enough by the idea of flying that having a camera in my hands never occurred to me. Probably would have made the flight less nerve-racking.

        Steve Gingold

        February 28, 2020 at 3:35 PM

        • If you ever decide to fly again, that’s something to keep in mind, or more literally to keep in hand to keep your mind occupied.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 28, 2020 at 4:42 PM

  11. Nostalgia at trips ending yields to the warmth of a homecoming.


    February 26, 2020 at 7:36 AM

    • In terms of literal warmth we went from the tropics back into winter, even if the mild kind of winter we get in Austin. Then it took a few weeks for our bodies to fully readjust to Texas time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 26, 2020 at 8:51 AM

  12. Now that’s what I call a Christmas present … beautiful clouds! Perfect ..


    March 3, 2020 at 2:15 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: