Being There is Everything!

Waco UPF-7 captured by D5 / 200-400VR2

Having all the gear, all the techniques, and all the experience doesn’t do you any good if you don’t show up. It’s not until you’re on the firing line giving it your best can any of the magic in photography begins to unfold. In aviation photography, I have a number of saying I like to pass along in becoming successful. Just Show Up I saw when it comes to getting up in aircraft to do an air-to-air photo mission. But before that comes a lot and that comes down to being there is everything. Being there is when you put those tools, techniques, and experiences into action. This weekend, find an airshow, a fly-in, and make some images. Being there is everything!

MT Splash-in ’21!

Super Goose captured by D6 / 180-400VR

You might have heard of a fly-in, well a splash-in is the same thing except there’s water rather than land. You basically have a gathering of like-minded folks with a float or amphibian aircraft who gather to celebrate life and flying. There are tons of splash-ins occurring but you don’t normally hear about them as they are typically limited to those who arrive in the aircraft. Where the planes land is on water and typically, where there are no roads. That’s kinda what makes them so unique.

We had a splash-in this past weekend with Goose, Super Goose, Mallards, and Super Cub in Montana and it was one heck of a ton of fun. I’d love to share all the images with you but can’t until the article runs. I can tell you though that floating out in a lake in a raft with the D6 / 180-400VR as these great aircraft launched and recovered beside us was more fun than I can put into words. Got wet a few times from spray but nothing went overboard. If you hear of a splash-in, can’t recommend strongly enough to get involved. They are bigtime fun!

Three Forks Fly-in!

Cessna L-19 captured by Z 6II / Z14-24f2.8

Fly-ins are not airshows even though there is plenty of aircraft in the skies. They are often not advertised to the general public, only to the aviation community so go under the radar for most though there are lots of them every weekend around the country during the flying season. The big difference is at fly-ins there is no schedule of acts taking to the skies just things like the floor drop, there are a whole lot fewer people, often more unique and rare aircraft and they are free (still have the great food though). Fly-ins can be just a morning for a pancake breakfast or a whole weekend with folks camping under their wings. What they are is a whole lot of socializing talking about planes with access to some very cool and often rare aircraft. This was the 44th Three Forks Fly-in put on by the Montana Antique Aircraft Association. Jake’s been going there for years and finally we got to take part in the fun and wow, what a great weekend!

PT-17 Stearman captured by Z 6II / Z14-24f2.8

Jake had already worked his magic attending the fly-in for years and knew most of the folks so it was pretty darn easy to meet people. The first morning though we were on our own so Sharon & I did what we normally do at such events, came hours before it started, sat and watched the activity, and when a helping hand was needed, we lent it. Before we knew it, we were invited to the hangar dinner that night for volunteers and volunteered to documents and supply photos for the day. That lead to introductions so when Jake came, we knew some folks but he knew them all, and then was the best part. “Oh, you’re Jake’s parents!” With that, all the doors opened up. There are some great aircraft tucked away in the hangars in Three Forks and neighboring Bozeman. Heck, I got access to the MiG 29 that is now flying out of Bozeman! Yeah, at a small town fly-in in Three Forks I gained access to that amazing aircraft and that’s the point. Yes, there were some good moments for some great aircraft photography at the fly-in. But it’s getting to know the folks and the opportunities that presents and leads to presenting the promise of even grander aviation photography in the future.

I handed out a dozen or so business cards. I sent out about twenty or so images from the event to a number of plane owners. And started to lay the plans for air-to-air events in the near future. The best part, made some new friends of MT neighbors. All in all a great weekend in a small town with big heart and gorgeous aircraft.

mtc

“Rain is In the Forecast … “

PT-19 Fairchild captured by Z 6II / Z24-70f2.8

That’s the text I received Saturday night before our shoot at the Spirit of Tulsa Squadron the next morning. My dear friend Joe who was helping to get aircraft out of the hangar wanted to know what I wanted to do. I did what I always do, simply said back, “The worst wx can make the best photography!” We left the plans as is, meeting long before sun up to get planes in position for the shoot.

Aviation is such a wonderful and small world! In planning my shoot for my Aviation Seminar I reached to my friends at CAF. Even though I’d never meet any of the good folks at Spirit at Tulsa Squadron, I knew they’d do all in their power to make it a great morning (and now good friends!). And it truly was a great morning. The skies were angry but they slowly started to break just prior to sunrise and for the next four hours provided the most gorgeous saturated light in which to photograph the PT-19 you see above and a great T-6. It was a fabulous morning with great planes and friends!

The shot above was such an easy slam dunk, it’s a prime example of just show up. We pushed the PT-19 to the edge of the ramp. It’s what’s reflecting the light up into the bottom of the left-wing. The right side is over the grass. I love the contrast in light that creates and is an old trick of mine. I just took the RRS Ground Pod, put it flat on the grass, and shot. And that’s how the whole morning went, great shots easily accomplished. And the rain … I did feel three drops as we pushed the PT-19 back into the hangar.

The Challenge of Stars

C-47 captured by Z 6 / Z24-70

Dark skies, yeah that’s what airports are not known for but that’s what you need when going after heavenly bodies. Or, is that really the subject you’re going after in a photo like this? In this case, yes and know. When you read about the crews who flew the C-47, you often hear of 03:00 revelry with a 05:00 launch. To us civilians that’s o’dark thirty. There is a short period before the sun comes up that there is just enough glow in the east to suggest sunrise yet the brightest stars can also register in the frame. That’s how I made this shot to tell the story of those flight crews. You might think the light/stars is the challenge but actually, it’s getting a sharp subject. The exposure time was just four seconds but if there is the slightest breeze, the plane will move, wiggle back and forth, even one as big as a C-47. So you click, click, click, click hoping that one of the shots is the right exposure for the sunrise and the stars when the wind is no moving about (and yes, the plane was light painted). With all that said, it’s just a great way to start the day, out on the ramp with aircraft and the sun!

Moose Peterson's

Aviation Seminar

Presented Live in the Classroom or Your Computer Simultaneously!

I'm bringing to you all I have learned romancing the skies with those gorgeous flying machines. We're talking hours of live presentations with images, charts, gear, and live demonstrations that you can take to the airfield and use to bring back those great images. To learn more and to get your Boarding Pass, simply click on this banner and then put up your trays and fasten your seatbelts, we're taking off!

Watch and rewatch it for 6 months afterwards!

You Start on the Ground

T6 Texan captured by D750 / 24-70f2.8

OK, it was just shy of 200 times. The question did fly (get the pun :-) though in when I announced our Aviation Seminar “how do you get in the air to photograph an aircraft?” My answer as I was told when I started out and what I pass along now is, on the ground! This answer though many take as a dismissal of them, their talents, and their question is the gosh darn truth I say with all sincerity! The reasoning behind the answer it very intense.

The number one concern when you’re doing an air-to-air is safety. Then comes a number of other important factors until finally, we get to the actual photograph. The “presentation” of the subject aircraft is discussed at the brief before the flight and then after that, you start the brief all over again with safety, flying stuff, and then the actual shoot covered one more time. What’s the “presentation” of the aircraft all about? Well, that’s what you learn and master while you’re on the ground shooting statics.

Statics (parked aircraft) is where you practice with your camera what angle you want to be to the aircraft, when, how, what light that you learn on the ground. You then later translate that knowledge into that gorgeous air-to-air photograph. It’s that knowledge you gain with the static that you often show in photographic form with the pilot to get in the air. It’s not only can be dangerous but it is expensive to put two planes up and it’s not the time to start learning the basics. Pilot needs to have confidence in your abilities. You do that before you leave the ground. So how do you get in the air with an aircraft, you start on the ground.

That’s why we have a special aviation dayshoot coming up! I have two aircraft for the shoot, a T6 like you see above and a Fairchild PT-19. I have never photographed a PT-19 so I selected it intentionally so you are able to see exactly how I go about photographing an aircraft for the first time. You’ll learn it all first hand so you can employ the same techniques. Come, join my on the ground so you can get into the skies!

Moose Peterson's

Aviation Seminar

Presented Live in the Classroom or Your Computer Simultaneously!

I'm bringing to you all I have learned romancing the skies with those gorgeous flying machines. We're talking hours of live presentations with images, charts, gear, and live demonstrations that you can take to the airfield and use to bring back those great images. To learn more and to get your Boarding Pass, simply click on this banner and then put up your trays and fasten your seatbelts, we're taking off!

Watch and rewatch it for 6 months afterwards!

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