After my post over on warbirdimages in regards to being present for the crank over of #74, a number of emails came in asking how I did that. The how questions ranged from how I got there to how I shot it, so I wanted to answer all those how questions at once. I met Bob and his son Casey at our Air2Air workshops, owning and flying a number of the subject aircraft we photograph. Bob in my mind is a aviation legend in what he has accomplished and restored already in his lifetime. I interviewed him for an article I wrote on him as well and that’s when we got to know each other better. Well upon learning they were bringing #74 Super Corsair back online, I said I would love to be there for that. Last Wed Casey called me it was roaring back to life on Friday, so Thursday I was on a plane to ND.
This photo still makes me laugh, even the lawn mower knew to stop and watch, it was something special rolling by! I would be going on the trip by myself and the timing of the phone call was such that there was no time to FedEx gear to ND so I have to carry with me all I would need. All my years working with wildlife and biologists has totally prepared me for these new challenges with aviation for which I’m so thankful. Darn those biologists, they save the day again! You see, to prepare myself and pack the right gear I just think through the problems that might exist and go from there. Like biologists working with an endangered critter, the Odegaard family would be working on a Super Corsair. My job is to document this and stay out of the way, get intimate photos without getting in their face. The first and major concern was light. I had no clue if the hangar door would be open or closed. Closed and the lighting would be on me so I packed 5 SB-900s, SD-9s, Justin Clamps and a ton of eneloop batteries (which I love, recycled all others) along with a couple LumiQuest Softbox LTp, snoots and gaffer tape. If the hangar door was open, then life would be easy! All of this went into my two carry-ons which with my 100k status works out perfectly.
Once at the hangar, I was relieved to see the hangar door open. Light flooding in from the hangar door is the softest, big light source you can ever want. All I had to do was have one SB-900 on a SC-27 always with me for like the photo above when I was shooting the shadow side. There were putting on that massive, gorgeous prop and I wanted that action. The shutter speed was 1/15, f9 and the flash was set to underexpose by -2/3 shooting with the D3x with the 24-120VR. The flash was held in my left hand with my arm held up and out to fill in the shadows on the left. Easy click! The brake test lap I had the D3s on the 200-400VR2 and shot from 1/25 to 1/80 to get a prop blur. That big ol prop turns real slow especially when first cranking over and it needed to be blurred to show it was turning. That’s when I was at 1/25. When Bob took #74 around to test the brakes, he had the RPMs up so I went to 1/80 and panned.
It really is easy stuff when you think it through. First question is what’s the subject? It’s bringing to life #74 which is a combo of people and plane. Next question is how do you bring the subject to the attention of the viewers of the photograph? The first answer to that question is light so you plan on that. Next answer is focal length. I had my normal ThinkTank Airport packed with the usual so that was covered. Lastly there is simply making the images and that’s like falling off a log for me at this point, working with biologists for 30yrs prepared me for that. The only difference is with aviation when you get your hands dirty getting involved, you really get dirty. There’s a lot of oil and grease! And just like biologists at the end of the day when you count your blessings and reflect on the good work done, the beer comes out. And that was the best part you can never be prepared for, the sitting around afterwards and the telling of stories and celebrating. We celebrated until well after midnight. And that my friends was how it was done.
Oh yeah, I forgot to answer one question (thanks for the reminder Mike). I also shot video during the run up, 14GB worth. I was on the ramp with the 24-120 on the D3x, 200-400VR2 on the D3s and D7000 with 14-24AFS on a tripod during the trials. I was running three cameras at once. And at one point, I took some iPhone video and sent that home and to a couple of friends. It is history brought to life so wanted it covered and shared. And yes, files, prints and video go to Odegaard Aviation for their archives and PR needs. No charge, just as a simple thank you.
I was talking with my old bud Dave Black at PSW and batteries came up. We both use flash a lot an not wanting to add anymore to landfills, I’ve been using rechargeable batteries since 1983. I’ve been using PowerEx for a while now but of late, not been happy with their performance. Dave told me about what he’s been using and loving, Eneloop AA. I ordered a set before leaving PSW so they were waiting for me at home. One thing you’ll notice as soon as you get a set is right on the packaging, it says “Pre-Charged, Long Storage Life.” Dave told me that’s what he had found from his use, a huge complaint I have with PowerEx of late (almost dead a few days after charging). So, I took a set right from the packaging, put them in a SB-900 and blasted away. I got bored with the test before the recycle time got down to 10sec. That’s without my charging them! To say I’m impressed is an understatement (and ordered a whole bunch more!). But then, consider the source because when it comes to portable light, flash or 2mil flashlight, Dave knows what he’s talking about! There is a new, XX Eneloop 2500mAh which I have on order but if they are like the 2000mAh I have, I’ll be a happy camper!