Winter Means Maintenance Time

AZ Ground Crew captured by D4 / 70-200f2.8

My dear friends over at AZ Ground Crew are helping to emphasize my point, winter means maintenance time for a majority of aircraft. This opens up all sorts of possibilities for your camera! Shoot with limited Depth of Focus, play with using just one or two lights being flash, LED or hangar shop lights, focus in on one mechanic or a group, the whole aircraft or one small part. Try going real wide, up close, and personal with narrow DoF or bringing a macro lens for the tiniest detail. And if you’re anything like me, put the camera down at times and get your hands dirty (remembering to clean the grease off prior to picking that camera back up again!). This simple participation in a “non-flying” activity goes a long way. You learn more about the aircraft, create a bond with the pilot / owner which more times than not, leads to time in the air with what you’ve worked on. The best part to me, it’s just simply fun!

Be Very Very Careful!

450 Stearmans captured by D5 / 70-200f4

Let’s cut right to the chase, air-to-air photography while bigtime fun is also bigtime dangerous. Adding to this shooting when snow is in the background just amps up those dangers. It’s not for everyone! It’s not for all planes, it’s to for all pilots and it’s not for all photographers. I am very very fortunate to work with some pilots who work at zero and as for me, well I like cold. I just want to encourage you to think about safety first, second and third before you even leave for the airport for a winter shoot.

I Hate Screwin Up!

C-130 captured by Z 6II / Z70/2002.8

The photography was a slam dunk! We’re at the ANC runway 15/33, 10,000 feet of shooting ecstasy photographing all the jets taking off. The skies were dramatic, the light piercing through them on aircraft and the surrounding mountains as they took off to the west. They have a rise behind where you can park so you easily shoot over the fence. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. The Z 6II / Z70-200f2.8 in AAAF in aperture priority couldn’t have made it simpler. I got some great shots simply having fun. Then this L-100 took the active and as it started its run, I saw the vapor trails being made by the props. Just as it rotated I realized I was in aperture priority with a way too fast shutter speed to blur the props. At that point of realization, it was even with me and by the time I closed down the aperture to get a slower shutter speed, it was gone. Oh, I could just shoot myself cause it would have been a real sweet photo with those props blurred. No, I didn’t delete the file only because it will make a could teaching photo of the image missed. I hate screwin up!

The Heritage Flight Opportunity

F-86e & F-35 on a Heritage Flight capture by D5 / 180-400VR

The Heritage Flights at airshows present us with unique opportunities to photograph flying aircraft that normally wouldn’t be flying together. Founded in 2010, the Foundation’s goal is to celebrate and honor our flying freedom heritage. It brings together some great aircraft presenting us some great photographs.

Many go for the shot of all four aircraft which includes WWII aircraft like the P-40, P-47 & P-51 along with a modern inventory jet like the A-10, F-22 & F-35. Like in this photograph, I tend to look at a historic grouping I might be able to take advantage of to do a historic retrospective so to speak. In this case, the F-86 & F-35 zooming out to 400mm to capture just the two aircraft. If you want to show fifty years of jet evolution in one click, this tells that story. It’s also a way of taking the uncommon of the common.

“It’s Always Better the Second Time!”

F4U-5N Corsair captured by D3x / 70-200f2.8

Long ago in a far-off land, I managed to delete all my Actions. I was on the road and I didn’t have a backup of them with me (that changed instantly) and I had to get images out to a client. I reached out to my dear friend Peter Bauer and asked if those actions might be anyplace else on my computer to which he said, “It’s always better the second time!” In other words, start recording because they are lost and I need to recreate them. Well as you might imagine knowing me, I took that simple statement to mean a whole lot more.

I finish my aviation photos in Photoshop permitting me to bring a bigger story to light, literally. As ACR & Photoshop evolve, in some cases so do my aviation photographs. Here’s a prime example. I literally finished this photo a decade ago which is what you see in the “before” image. I then revisited it today using today’s tool in ACR and Photoshop. Using ACR, I brought more life to the Corsair and in Photoshop I ran Nik Detail Extractor on the clouds in the background. It took seconds to do and it brought life to an old images.

You can do the same thing and if you need ideas, I have a few for you. You can head to KelbyOne to my class Aviation Photography: Post-Processing. The concepts are the same but the tools have vastly improved. You have nothing to loose and you might just find it’s always better the second time!

Flying in the Background

Lincoln Page & Command Aire captured by Z6II / Z70-200f2.8

Cropping into an aircraft is kinda like cropping big game, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Often when it doesn’t, I refer to that as an awkward crop. This is because when you cut into an airplane or big critter, you eliminate essential parts like tail or legs. In this particular shot taken last week at the WAAAM Fly-in, it works because of the smallest element in the frame, the biplane launching in the background. I saw it launching way to the left of the frame as I held the framing you see. A distance before it was where I wanted it in the frame, I started firing letting move further into the frame. I did this because it assured me of getting the shot I wanted. It’s a simple click celebrating old time flight.

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