We’ve had a whole lot of folks asking if we are continuing our Air2Air Workshops. I assume it’s because of the tragedy in Reno. Richard, Doug & I are most definitely continuing them! Our next one in TX has 1 space but our AZ event is full with a waiting list. We should have dates for our 2012 spring season shortly, once we lock in out photo platform. We will be back in FL and AZ in the spring.
We are often asked what aircraft will we be photographing. Pretty valid question. We typically have a big bomber like the B-17 in TX & AZ or a B-25 like in FL. We also have Lit’l friends such as F4U Corsair, P-51 Mustand, P-47 Thunderbolt and Spitfire. We also have GA at every workshop like A-36, PT-17, RV or Shrike Commander. We change it up as well as increase our teaching with different aircraft.
and if you have any questions whether this is the shoot of a lifetime, give this a gander, it says it all!
It is with great pleasure we announce the posting of my Aviation Photography Class at Kelby Training. Nancy did a great job explaining it so I’m going to just copy her.
Moose Peterson is well-known for his wildlife and landscape photography, but few have known about his passion for aviation… until now. Join Moose on location at the Florida International Air Show as he teaches you the finer points of “static” and “ground-to-air” photography, as well as portraiture and panning shots. Even if you don’t share Moose’s passion for flight, this photography course covers techniques, equipment, and camera settings that can be used in multiple situations – especially when trying to convey motion. In the post-processing phase, Moose shows you how to take what he taught you to shoot right in the field and get it through the digital darkroom quickly so you can get back to shooting
This class was scheduled to be posted a couple of weeks back but with the tragedy at Reno, the good folks at Kelby Training (nothing but a class act there!) agreed to postponed posting the class. But it’s now up in memory of a friend, Jimmy Leeward.
Ah, the blaaaaas of August are past and wildfowl and shorebirds are starting to hit the area. Another reason fall is a favorite time of year for me. While the ducks, geese and shorebirds are in their fall plumage, it’s fresh, new plumage which makes them great targets of opportunity! But how can we do more then just take a photo that says, “They have arrive” and rather say “Hot dogs, they have arrived!”?
On of the best ways is to change your angle! I’ve become pretty famous for that video clip that shows all to well my poor imitation of a beached whale but getting down low is a must! This shot of a Red-necked Grebe is a classic example. I’m not totally flat on the ground but perhaps 12″ off it, the legs of the Gitzo not totally flattened. I did that because I loved the pattern in the water which is what attracted me to the photo in the first place. Shooting with the 600mm w/TC-17, it was easily to isolate the reflection of the trees on the other shore which you see as simple green breaking up the pattern of blue. So you start to move your images forward by not just plunking down your tripod and being satisfied with getting a sharp image.
You knew this was coming but gotta say it anyways. You gotta greet the sun! The sun hasn’t even come up on these Short-billed Dowitchers still napping into the day. This is important for two key reasons. The first is the mellow light and lack of shadows. That’s important for the second reason, the calm water. The mirror properties is what makes these fall drab plummaged shorebirds spectacular. So, greeting the sun is a must in my book!
One thing I can’t encourage wildlife photographers to do enough is go out shooting when the weather sucks! I’ve been saying it for 30+yrs and still say it, some of the best photography is in the worst weather! Fall is when winter storms start to make their appearance. Before, during and after a storm you can have some incredibly dramatic light like on these Blue or Dark Phased Snow Geese. They didn’t have that single shaft of light on them when I started to pan with them but knew they would fly into it and they did. Click! You and your gear won’t melt if it gets wet. Simple, basic care like a clean, white towel and blotting your gear dry (do not wipe!) and you’re rockin in that dampness. And the photographic rewards of that one magical image will warm you up better then any fire!
The whole trick to all of this is getting out! DO some homework, visit bird hotlines and websites and see where the birds are coming in and then get there! Do you need a 600mm? I’m often asked that question and if you wanna play with the big boys, you sure do! If you’re just starting and learning, you sure don’t! A 400mm lens does a great job and is all the focal length I had for years and started my business with. Never loose sight, it’s the person behind the camera that counts!
I was just talking with our forest biologist (a neighbor) last night and the thickness of the fur on the critters came up. When you see the bears and squirrels with a thick, healthy coat now and not 30 days from now, it hints to a cold and wet winter is coming. For photographers, it also means some great photography! Mammals look their best when they are fat, both body fat and thick fur. This combination fits what the public stereotypically think of a critter and when it comes to visually grabbing their attention, this is important. So how can you take advantage of this in your photography?
One of the first things I would do is head north. Winter comes earlier in the far north so critter are already getting in condition there when some down south are still finishing up with the spring brood. How far north? All the way! Depending on your budget and how much you like to explore, I’d start at the Arctic Ocean and work your way down. Sept is great there and Oct is great in Anchorage just to give you a reference. Then you get down to Yellowstone where late Oct rocks! It’s all hooked into cold, cold temps at night and cool to coldish during the day. That starts the whole cycle.
Take advantage of the gorgeous, gorgeous fall light! Light in the fall I think is some of the most romantic, moody and emotional of all light during the year for critters. This does mean getting up early, stalking light and chasing it all day long until the last beams slip away. Do this means you are dressed to deal with the chill! The mammals have a thick coat for a reason (and put on all that fat) and that’s because it’s cold! This is a great time to underexpose and take advantage of those long shadows!
And for most of the ungulates, it’s the time of year when love is in the air. You wanna get close, you wanna capture great biology, you wanna capture that unique photo, there is nothing like sex! Critter sex that is. When their mind is on each other, they could give a rat’s ass about dumb photographers and that is key.
And wrapping this all up in a successful trip takes homework. You gotta know the critters biology, you gotta find where they are this years (because last year don’t count, they have legs!) and if it is cold there when you wanna be there. And understand the weather you might be getting into. I was just told a a story from last year where three photographers headed out to photograph elk but didn’t do their homework. They spent three days stuck in their truck as a snow storm closed in on them and left stuck on a back country road. It’s going to be a great fall for photographing mammals, the fur is thick!
The perfect video for a Wednesday. My good friend Pete who is a pilot passed this along to me. Not that he thought I would take it up but it sure does give you an idea what it is like to be a bird. Enjoy!
The problem I have with Nik’s CEP4 is now I wonder what it would do to images I’ve already processed. That, “I wonder what this would look like” itis. Well, I succumbed to it and went to some 2008 images.(raising fist in the air) Damn you CEP4!!!!!
I hate this, a simple pass of Detail Enhancer and …..now what do I do?
then again I find treasures like this, makes one happy long winter nights are coming
I think the cartoon above says it all but just in case you’d like more info on all the fun, there’s this.
Our second K&M will be 25-30 April in FL. Based out of St Pete (flying into Tampa where we’ll pick you up), our main emphasis will be birds and this time of year, they will be in their gorgeous spring plumage. But we won’t be doing just birds. There will be places, people and possible a plane (and if I was clever, I would figure out a way to spell bird with a P). We expect a good friend or two to drop in as well, that will most likely when it comes to meal time since we eat real good on this adventure! And if you’re wondering if I know anything about the birds of this region, you might just wanna check out these videos over at Kelby Training here and here.
The price for instruction & transportation (once in Tampa) only is $1995. Half is due on registration and the other half is due 30 days out. Information for reserving your room will be provided once you reserve your spot in the workshop. There are only a spot or two open. Lodging & food not include in the price.
Coming back from a shoot in So Cal, we came across the desert at sunset as this large thunderhead was charging up for a helluva show. So I pulled over, took three clicks, left, center and right, jumped back in the truck and kept on driving. I got back and loaded the three images into PS Photomerge and assembled the pano. I then with one click applied Nik’s Tonal Contrast, Detail Enhancer, Dark & Lightend Center and, one other filter that for the life of me I can’t remember. I’m telling you this not because I want you to buy Color Efex Pro 4 but because I want you to know there are solutions available to you so you spend your time at the camera and not the computer!
Wanna see a LARGE version of this, head to my Goole+ Page and add me to your circle and then you can see a HUGE version of this pano.
I think Michael’s video says it all perfectly. This is a GREAT APP you can load right now from the app store!
I perhaps shouldn’t have used the word “tease” in my Nik video since many seem to have latched on to that (except your Laura). Aviation photography doesn’t wait for great light, planes fly when pilots feel like flying so if you want that photo, there are times when you have suckie light. Rare Bear was taking off for a test flight and I wanted the shot so I made it. I made it knowing that when I went click, it wouldn’t be finished. The shadow under the wings would be dark and the cloud detail missing. I also knew that in less then 30sec with Nik’s CEP 4, I would have all that information back and a finished photo. All of this planning was done at the camera with some being finished in the computer. So don’t get stuck on the word “tease” in my video. What’s there are real tools I use everyday to bring out the drama you see here.
Yeah baby, Nik Webinar time again! Can’t wait, had a great time at the last one. It “sells” out fast so register…now! Go, now, stop reading, click here and go!! What am I talking about? Black n White baby!
The last few days have been, well, different. I wasn’t really planning on blogging the rest of the week, there is simply more important things to deal with right now. You as a community, you “fans” though have been simply amazing! Your out pouring of concern to my family and me has let us know just how blessed we are!
Jake & I both had shot lists, aircraft and folks we wanted to photograph and with the sheer size and magnitude of Reno Air Races, we break things down by days. Now if we see something come up that we know is a once in a lifetime opportunity, we would deviate but otherwise, we kinda stick to our plan so we cover all we want to cover. Sunday night when we got back home, Jake & I realized we were light about 5000 images. Images we planned on taking Saturday and Sunday. Planes and folks we wanted to tell their story visually are missing as there was no Saturday/Sunday. It’s something we’re still coping with.
In the process of communicating with all from the races as we gather ourselves up and move forward, some web comments were brought to my attention. Now I am very use to this in the environmental world, been dealing with it for 30yrs. It is 100% human nature, it’s what we do and it is a survival mechanism that permits us to deal with bad times and horrible information. Sometimes it’s just plain old ignorance and other it’s just the bad information pressed upon us. That’s probably why whenever I blog about doing your homework for wildlife photography, I can hear the jeers arise. For example if I mention climate change in a blog (like I did just now), my email box will fill with emails telling me I’m an idiot. They tell me that what I’ve seen firsthand is not the case, I didn’t see it correctly. I love those emails. Well I’ve got a new one now that has its own folder as well.
I wrote in my Gone West blog that “It is just part of aviation.” Accidents and deaths that is and as a wise person just told me, “You’ll find more submarines at the bottom of the ocean then planes stuck in the sky.” I’d fly right now, right this moment with any of my friends in their aircraft if they’d come and pick me up (this does not include commercial flights). But with that desire, I know accidents, no matter how careful you are, happen. We spend a couple of hours at our Air2Air Workshop talking just safety because it is apart of the passion. The list of planes, pilots, photographers and passengers that I personally know that have tragically lost their lives in a plane crash in the last 45 days is too long to think it’s not part of aviation. From Jimmy Leeward to Frans Dely to Jack “Flash” Mangan to 7 others I know in the last 45 days. If you head to NTSB or PlaneCrashInfo you’ll see this is the tip of the ice berg.
Sharon & I have been fighting the battle, because it is a battle, to make the public aware of the plight of our wild heritage for a long time. It has taken its toll on us over the years as the message falls on fewer and fewer ears with less and less being done on their behalf. We still battle but we now have a wall to protect us from the bad news we feel is coming (critter extinction is hard to handle). That’s why we weren’t surprised by those who think I’m all wrong about what my dear friend calls, “The under belly of flight.” Planes do come down and tragically, good folk pass.
We’re living in a time when change is needed. It’s needed on every level at ever sector for everybody. Talking with so many vets from WWII, I crave that spirit of that era to infuse itself again in us as a society. There are many avenues available to us to make the needed changes and I don’t mean to trivialize the solution, but I think knowledge could take us a long ways to solving our problems. No matter your age, beliefs or goals, pushing yourself to be better educated and informed and knowledgeable, leads to conversations that will unite and improve us all. We don’t all have to agree but with knowledgeable and educated conversation we can make a positive change. Be it politics, the environment, aviation, sports, no matter what, take some time to read, ponder and learn so common sense and not ignorance rules the day. Keep that open heart for your fellow man but don’t forget knowledge is a powerful force!
It was one of those magical mornings at the races. It had been arranged to have the Tigercat on the ramp for us to photograph at sunrise. It’s a tradition that goes back long before I arrived on the scene and it’s one I’m very happy to participate in. “The Family” arrived around six o’clock to get ready for the coming light. This group of aviation photographers who have become such dear friends love to come together for these morning shoots not only for the photography but for the comradery. We really are like a bunch of kids on Christmas morning when we’re around the aircraft. We have that excitement, we say those goofy things, play those silly practical jokes that photographers who are close friends do when they are having fun. The skies were gorgeous, the photos really sweet, the coffee good, it’s just the magic that happens during the races.
The rest of the morning was special, spending it in the pits with more friends. The Odegaards are a great bunch to spend time with and I get in every minute I can. They were taking the cowlings off the Super Corsair and that big ass 4360 radial is a mechanical wonder I love learning about. I spent a couple of hours there asking questions and photographing the activity. I even got the opportunity, the honor to be asked to get up on the stand and help the pit crew and work on the Super Corsair for ten minutes. So I put the camera down and got my hands greasy. Great! And so the day continued on like it always does at Reno, it’s just a marvelous experience that I think every photographer should get involved with.
It’s an afternoon though I’d rather never visit again in my lifetime but I know I will. It is just part of aviation. Jake and I were shooting out at pylon 2 when the world stopped. From there we saw the dust plume at the grand stands and knew tragedy had struck and to who. After getting back from the pylons, after being asked to be a first responder, after the press conference, after lots of hugs…lots of hugs, the reality still hadn’t sunk in. We finished up this day in an office with other volunteers answering phones that were constantly ringing. It was the hotline phone number for those looking for folks missing after the accident. Sharon, Jake & I spent three hours helping as best as we could those on the other end worried about loved ones they had not been able to reach after the incident. Pretty wrung out by the day, coming from the very high to the very low, we headed back to our trailer and settled in for a short night of sleep.
We were very blessed this evening with an incredible out pouring of concern by all of you, hearing from folks in over 20 countries by the hundreds. With this response, Sharon thought she’d best check the office answering machine. A few moments later she dropped her phone upon hearing the first message. She looked like she had seen a ghost. I picked up her phone to listen. On the other end came the happy and jovial voice thanking us for the previous morning shoot. It was Jimmy Leeward, the pilot of Galloping Ghost.
We have been a part of this community for only a short but incredibly rewarding four years. Some of our dearest friends are the owners, pilots, Media Ops and photographers here at the Reno Air Races. I have written many times that this aviation thing is all about the people and Jimmy is a classic example. I wish I could say he was a great friend but our friendship hadn’t had the time to reach that status. I only really started to get to know this aviation statesman at our dear friend’s wedding but his big heart is legendary. When I went into his pits to arrange the morning shoot of his Galloping Ghost with #74 Super Corsair, he came out of his trailer with a giant smile, so very typical of Jimmy. The history behind my idea was not lost on him and he embraced the idea so the next morning at o’dark thirty found me lying on the tarmac photographing history. I had no idea though this history would have a very unforeseen ending.
I feel very honored when an owner entrusts in me their aircraft. I’m not talking about the monetary value but the trust that the image I take will tell the story of that aircraft. In this case it was two very unique aircraft coming back to racing, legends from a time after WWII when the aircraft that helped with victory were celebrated. With assistance from my treasured friends the Odegaards, Casey and his brother Brady pulled the planes out and 20 photographers were there celebrating the start of another great day by photographing these historic aircraft. Summing up once again the most valuable lesson about aviation photography I have learned and can share. It’s all about the people!
Photography for me has always been more than pixels and exposure. It’s always been about memories which is why it is so simple for me to insert so much passion into my photography. And it’s why I share some images and not others. It also drives me when I go click and when I don’t. When I go click, that image is recorded not only by my camera but by my memory which has served me well in recalling the images in our vast library. Many have asked if I photographed the tragedy, news agencies won’t leave us alone asking that question. I put the camera down, I did not want this memory recorded. Amongst biologists I have a well-earned reputation of dropping the camera when my assistance was needed because in my mind, it’s just a photograph. This was not the time for just a photograph.
Saturday morning, Jake & I got up before the sun like every morning at the races. We silently went through our routine and when the light came up, we decided just to go for a walk in the pits to find friends. Without cameras we set out. While we have our credentials on our wrists the site is under NTSB lock down but for some reason the security folks who I think recognized us, let us into the pits. It was eerily quiet, not somber but quiet. We saw signs of life and activity but the total lack of sounds, it was unnerving. We came to the second row of aircraft and saw our special friends who we made our first air to air flight with. And as after every tragedy like this, we all told our story of the events, where we were, saw and did. Pilots know that this is a reality of aviation that is very real and at some point in their life, they will experience. It still affects them since it is a friend involved, but it is just a fact of life of an aviator. We encountered and counted for all our friends which was a great relief. We were even able to check on other folks who had friends not at the races who are friends of mine. After a couple of hours, Jake & I wandered out of the pits (and with a changing of guards told not to come back!).
Life is a very precious thing! Dear friends and family are very much a part of that life. And as photographers, our talents and passions to record this makes us a very important story teller of this precious circle. So standing there waiting for the news conference to begin that went out to the world (I’m not going to comment on what disgusting spectacle that is), “The Family” gathered for more hugs, talk about our memories of Jimmy and recount what a unique individual he was his amazing skill as a pilot. We laughed, we cried, we remembered. And of course, we talked about our favorite photographs of the Ghost. And then, it was over. Two days before we were supposed to say our good byes, thousands of images and hundreds of experiences unfulfilled, “The Family” was saying their good byes. We took our flag off our trailer, hung it at half mast, started the truck and slowly drove out of Stead. We are grateful for all the concern and love all have sent our way. Our heart goes out to all who were affected by this tragedy, we truly feel their pain.
And to Jimmy’s family, our prayers go out to you. Jimmy was one of a kind and will be greatly missed. His passion for life, people and aviation was unmistakable and leaves a huge hole now that he has gone west.
One of my favorite shots from the day. Simple, clean with light, gesture & color. Schweet!
It was a GREAT day of shooting at the Reno Air Races! I’m at 3731 images filed so far and have 4 days more to go. I’ve shot a done of different things, not just aircraft as I’m taking care of clients needs. I also shot 5.58GB of video today which I need to edit so I can put it in the clients hands tomorrow. Still editing is easy and fast for me, video is not so that’s why, more pics and less text today.
As Richard said, “You and your clouds!” Now the Super Corsair looks as regal as it is. I like this, it was a good day!
With my success yesterday with the 600 w/1.7x, I thought today I would test the 600 w/TC-20e3. While I like the image size and intensity of the action, the heat shimmer killed me. I didn’t get one, not one tack sharp image. I have some that are sharp but they would fall apart if I were to make a 24×30 print of them. And that’s just not acceptable. So that means I need the temps to fall to kill the heat shimmer, get closer physically or just not use the 2x if I want tack sharp. I think I’ll go with getting closer with shorter lens while still incorporating the new angle.