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on Nov 12, 2019 in Aviation

Thunderbirds – Home Court Advantage

This weekend the Thunderbirds will be at Aviation Nation Airshow which is at their home base, Nellis AFB. I think it’s where they have the best show all year with their home court advantage which is why I’ll be there with the KelbyOne crew filming my next aviation class. You might think that for me, this is a slam dunk but it will only be so if I do my homework this week. While I have photographed the Thunderbirds previously, their show has evolved. That means this week I’m watching the video of their performance this week to have it in the back of my mind while photographing them. Jets move kinda fast and even though I’m shooting in Aperture Priority (no prop to blur) with a fast shutter speed, if I am trying to “catch up” to them in my panning, I won’t have the symmetry in my viewfinder when I go click. You also run the risk of capturing what is called, “tips and tails.” This is...

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on Oct 23, 2019 in Aviation

The A2A Portrait is a Challenge!

It looks like they are cheesing it up for the camera, but nothing could be further from the truth. When flying in formation, the pilot of the subject aircraft is staring not down the camera lens but rather at the aircraft where the camera resides. Flying off the wing is the most common formation and it’s the responsibility of the pilot flying off the wing to not run into that wing. The lead aircraft, and in this case that is the photo platform, guides the flight through the skies. The subject aircraft makes sure three is no collision. This means they must watch that aircraft and in doing so, they appear to be staring down that lens barrel. And even with that, getting the A2A portrait is a challenge! Before you take to the skies, you brief the flight. The brief covers everything from flight frequencies to the actual photographic goals of the flight. While you would love to do all the communication in the air via the radio,...

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on Oct 17, 2019 in Aviation

Oct, Last of the Years Airshows. Here are Some Tips

There are many airshows paying tribute to our heroes who fought for our freedoms, the last this year are coming up! I want to give you some thoughts, tricks, and tips so you can make the most of your airshow shooting. Now of course, buying a copy of Takeoff would be a great start! Realizing most learn best from watching rather than reading, you can head to my Kelby Class on Aviation Photography for more in-depth explanations. I want to talk about putting movement into your stills right now so just because you see planes here, these techniques apply to ALL moving subjects! Start with the understanding that shooting unrestricted is essential! The less you carry, the more mobile you are, the more mobile and limber you are, the sharper the photos and better composed they will be. My main gear for an airshow is the D5 / 180-400VR for ground to air and Z7 / Z24-70f2.8 for statics. With that in mind, here are some tips that you...

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on Sep 25, 2019 in Aviation

A2A Starts on the Ground

Staring out an open door upon an aircraft on your wing is a thrill and excitement I wish for everyone! Air-to-air photography gets your adrenalin pumping the moment the prop turns and it doesn’t stop until you’re safely back on the ground again. In between, you see your subject, that aircraft in your viewfinder where you must arrange the elements, select the light, use the color and find the gesture to make that one photograph a story of your subject. The time to learn all those pieces you need to bring together to make that successful click is not in the air where safety and cost are part of every heartbeat. You learn those things on the safety of the ground. And you prove and refine your ability to do so on the ground which is where and how you get the attention of the plane owner. I was very fortunate to be associated with both (at the time) flying Super Corsairs. Starting in the hangar before they were...

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on Sep 13, 2019 in Aviation

Gotta Love the Biplane Class!

It might be the nostalgia, could be the colors, is most definitely the pilots, but I love the Biplane Class of racers at Reno! Photographically, they are the easiest to photograph. Them props are turning sooooo fast, you can get a full prop circle shooting at 1/125! The key is remembering that the plane HAS TO be flyng into the sun. These are simple clicks taken with the D5 / 200-400 with a pit pass at 1/125. Head to the races and try it...

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on Sep 12, 2019 in Aviation

The Mighty Texan

The Mighty Texan (AT-6) has been part of the Reno Air Races from the beginning. While they go only half the speed of the Unlimited Class, the distinctive sound of their round engines just scream the races! Those who know their WWII aircraft recognize the T6 as the advance trainer nearly all pilots flew prior to being assigned their final aircraft. Coming up on eighty years old, as you can see, they still fly just fine! These photos were taken back in 2007, my first Reno Air Race. The D3 was the body new kid on the block back then and attached to it I had the 500f4AFS. While Panning is essential in getting a sharp photo, the clouds are what make the photos work. Without those clouds so bald skies, there would be no sense of speed and little movement in the still image. The long lens permits not only a good image size but the incorporation of clouds off in the distance. Blue horizons to all the...

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