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on Jun 20, 2013 in Aviation, Digital Darkroom

It’s Not Magic, It’s Vision


Paying dues, it’s how the biz operates. The amazing opportunities that seem to come my way I wish were just presented to me on a silver platter but such is not the case. There is a ying to the yang and after it being that way for three decades, I have no issue with the system. I know in the end that the opportunity I have in my heart will materialize. This is the relationship I have with Stead Airport, I put in my time doing photographs you wouldn’t think are your typical Moose genre and in the end, the opportunity appears that is just up my alley. That’s how the afternoon shoot with this gorgeous P-51D came about. The seed was planted years ago and on this day, it bloomed. It’s how I have come to operate. I wasn’t very patient when I was a kid with this system but life has taught me to be patient. It does come and when it does, oh, is it sweet! It’s even better when you can share it with friends like this evening when Jake and the Band of Four as we joked our way to great images.


At the same time you have this “photographic plan” in which you have the means (gear, technical expertise, digital darkroom skill perhaps, subject knowledge) to make it all come together in a click when the opportunity appears. The gear side was pretty simple: D4, 80-400VR3 (shot here) and 18-35AFS, Ground Pod and the most important, knee pads! Next was the camera position and exposure: low, 45 degrees and underexposed -1.5 stops. Then comes the DD: ACR 8.1 using Shadow Slider and DSL/Gray Scale Luminance Slider to light the fuselage / sky (remove blue cast by moving Blue Slider to desaturate it) then bring the sky back using the Split Grad and its controls (what’s the subject – a WHITE P-51D Mustang – can’t loose site of that in the process). And the subject knowledge, I always think that is the most important and in this case, befriending the plane owner with conversation, presenting of the business card and FOLLOWING up on commitments. Lastly, carry on the tradition that these aircraft belong to everyone which means you share the image. I love the fact that when folks see the finished photograph, all they see is the magic of the moment because that’s the goal. There is NO reason the backend stuff has to ever come up, that’s not the point of sharing the photograph. But it’s important to understand. It’s not magic, it’s vision.