While I’ve only been shooting planes a short time, I have put in my time behind a camera. That time behind the camera counts for each and everyone of us. The trick is, to reflect on that time and apply those lessons we’ve learned to our current journey. That’s where so many fall down because they think wildlife or landscape or portraiture or sports or horse photography aren’t related. But they most certainly are related and by the one thing that haunts most photographers, light! So while I might be new to aviation, I’m certainly not new to light or how to use it to manipulate the viewer of my photographs. Here’s a classic example of what I’m talking about.
Here’s a little Bellanca 8KCAB putting on a great show at the Minden Aviation Roundup. The sun had darted behind the clouds (which were great) giving the total scene a “cool” cast. A color cast is a bluish cast which we mentally perceive as being cool (don’t understand this, read The Psychology of Color). Well, when you have that overall color cast, anything yellow the eye zeros right in on so no matter the subject size in the image, you can’t help but see it. I talked about that the other day. So with those basics in place, we build upon them.
I’m a huge Jay Maisel fan, he is all about color and uses it to communicate like few others. And the top three images start to get to where his famous mantra says so rightly where our photography should be. But they are missing what I think is Jay’s main manta thrust, the key ingredient in all great photographs, one that I strive to have especially in my aviation images. The one thing all these images have in common is, you don’t see the pilot. We know intuitively that there is one flying the plane, but we don’t see them. More importantly the top three photos don’t express what it must be like to be flying that plane in those gorgeous skies for all those spectators. That’s what I want to capture in my aviation images……
Gesture! Light, Color, Gesture…Jay’s mantra and it’s those ingredients that make the bottom image stand out from the rest. You can just feel the fun of this little aircraft easing over and enjoying the freedom of no gravity. It takes no words to express (photographs shouldn’t need a caption to tell the story), it just says free! No matter your subject, these basics apply and will, when incorporated make your photograph tells its story!