#2 Tip – Smile

The Blue Angels captured by D3x / 200-400VR

This tip I pass along actually comes from Sharon. We were at the Reno Air Races and I had followed my #1 Tip, Just Show Up and was on the line before sunrise admiring those blue beauties. The airman responsible for the F-18 right in front of me was preflighting the plane. There was a rope between me and the planes. I wanted to get past that rope and to the east to get the shot you see here. Sharon said, “Smile!” When the airman looked at me, I smiled broadly and that started a conversation and that let to being asked if I want to get closer. Every since my #2 tip in aviation photography is a big, sincere smile! Because every since this event, the smile has gotten me into place and meeting people so I can get the photograph I envision.

Looking Forward to Some 1 on 1 Time!

MANG C-130 captured by Z 9 / Z70-200f2.8

I’ll come clean, I’ve been very neglectful when it comes to my library of modern military statics. I decided that I was going to rectify that issue in 2023 so I’ve been doing my homework. The homework is to go though my own files and find the images I like and those I don’t and figure out those reasons. My goal is to populate my library with uncommon images of these “common” aircraft you can see and photograph most weekends during the summer. One common thread I found looking through the images I like was they were taken with a 70-200f2.8 lens. I used that lens to do two things, isolate the subject and background. At the same time, the longer focal length keeps the lines of the aircraft true, no distorted angles.

F-22 Raptor captured by D3 / 70-200f2.8

The other commonality was the light. Starting with these two benchmarks is a challenge in itself then comes the additional challenge of “improving.” Making this come together means working the connections, obtaining access and the most important element, time, to make it all come together. I wrap that all up in a favorite phrase of mine, planned luck. If I do it right and the stars align, I’ll be looking forward to some one on one time!

Women of Aviation Worldwide Week

Tammie Helo pilot captured by D5 / 14-24f2.8

It’s Women of aviation worldwide week bringing much deserved attention to this dedicated, talented and very skilled group of pilots. They include today’s pilot making a huge difference like Tammie flying a Medevac. It all started in 1910 with Blanche “Betty” Stuart Scott inspiring all who would come after her. Many know of Amela Earhart but what about Bessie Coleman or Katherin Stinson? You probably have heard of the WASPs but what about the 99 Club? This doesn’t even dust off the tip of the spear, there are thousands and thousands out there. This includes those protecting our freedoms! We thank you all for your passion, skill and talent this week and everyday!!!

You Gotta Give Them Some Love!

AZ Ground Crew napping under B-17 “Sentimental Journey” captured by D750 / 24-70f2.8

WWII reenactors are a special bunch like my dear friends, the AZ Ground Crew gang. They put so much time, money and passion into what it is they do, it is impressive and inspiring! They really know their history and planes! And they are a great photographic opportunity and resource at airshows! Some events like Oshkosh have massive encampments reenacting a time gone by. And they are just waiting for a little love to go into action. I have learned to talk with them, chat them up and normally within seconds they ask, “want to take our photograph?” And more then once in the process they introduce me to a plane and plane owner I didn’t know. This process opens the doors to so many possibilities but you’ve got knock and walk through to make something happen. Have those business cards handy and willingness to give away your photos and you’d be surprised what comes from the simple, “hello!” Access to aircraft can come in many directions and this one is one of the funniest. It all starts with the reeanctors, you gotta give them some love!

It Just takes Time

Kermit Week’s A-26B Invader 12.27.12 captured by D4 / 24-70f2.8

I was working on another project at AeroTrader, Chino, CA airport the same time doing some shooting with Kermit & Paul at Fantasy of Flight, FL. This back in 2010-12. Kermit asked since I was in the hangar to look at and photograph his A-26B that was in the back of the hangar. The A-26B Invader had taken a big hit in the hurricane and had to be brought back to life. Jake & I had a great morning crawling through and photographing this amazing time machine as are all of Kermit’s aircraft. The interior is just like it came out of the factory which included the turret gun in the back. I sent Kermit the images and that was the end of it. There were no immediate schedule to get back to work on the A-26B. I love getting involved in restoration projects and have come to learn that there is no short term project, not even close. Because of that I’ve had to make the painful call too many times that I simply can’t devote the time to a project and do the job right.

Well the A-26B Invader just made its 30 minute shake down flight two weeks ago. That’s eleven years from when the photograph above was taken. The video of the test flight is below which is very cool to watch. The amazing Steve Hinton is at the controls. When you get the hunger for working on a project, there are lots out there that could use your skill and passion. Just remember though, it just take time.

Didn’t See That Coming!

Coast Guard (thank you for your service!) C-130 captured by Z 9 / 800AFS

Seriously I didn’t! I heard it though, those throaty engines you can hear from a long way off. I was literally lying in the sand having a great time photographing shorebirds like the Sanderling and Black-belied Plover below. Planes weren’t even on my mind, just birds. But then I heard the C-130 which we had seen a couple of days prior flying really low as we ate breakfast. With the sound, I took my eye from the viewfinder and saw it was coming right down the beach in our direction. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stand up fast enough to make the shot and I wanted the shot so, I went into aviation photographer mode for a moment. I had to get my shutter speed down and fast to get prop blur. I needed to change AF mode. I cranked the aperture down to f/40 giving me 1/30 and I hit the i button and switched to AAAF. I then put the BIG bird in the viewfinder and until my chin was a couple inches in the sand panning with it, I shot. It’s a fun, simple shot I like and afterward, went right back to the little birds. The moral, gotta be prepared because often in photography, we didn’t see that coming!

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