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.

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.


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