Time for Splashing!

The amazing Beaver captured by Z 9 / Z70-200f2.8

Starting with my first ride with Willie years ago, I’ve had the great fun of photographing him on launch and recovery (he’s my ride to the Kodiak Browns). The invites are coming in for the summers splash-ins, a great tradition we got involved with years ago. A splash-in is a flyin for float planes. You will find these mostly on inland lakes across the country, something you can do a search for on the internet to find those near you. Then all ya gotta do is, show up! It doesn’t take much lens nor shutter speed but lots of panning practice.

Planes tend to go “slower” as they get up on step and then once on step, they seem to leap of the water. To get that feeling of speed like you see above I shot at 1/40 to blur the water and background. This takes a little practice but the results are fun. Just be forewarned that once you go to a splashin, you get hooked!

Celebrate the Flight with Background

Stampe SV4C captured by D6 / 70-200f4

John’s fresh out of paint, fresh out of restoration Stampe SV4C is a gorgeous plane. The challenge is expressing in the photograph the accomplishment of first flight. As you can see, the Stampe has a pretty dramatic paint scheme. As you can also see, the time of day we were flying wasn’t the kindest of light. To bring it all together for John, I looked for backgrounds that would make the Stampe not only shine, but “fun” to fly. A very acrobatic aircraft, I use that by directing the flight of the Stampe around the sky to grab backgrounds as they appeared. The blue sky with wispy clouds was only in a certain part of the orbit. The blooming fields below were in only certain portions of The Palouse. It means you’re watching all around and not just your subject, looking ahead in the direction you’re flying for a background you can use in the next couple of minutes and heading for it. It’s a lot of fun this process, even more the results when you celebrate the flight with background!

Stampe SV4C captured by D6 / 70-200f4

The Backlit Airshow

FG-1D Corsair captured by D4s / 80-400VR

I had a marvelous time last night with the Huntington Camera Club (thanks folks!). Real nice folks and we talked about a favorite topic of mine, aviation photography. The Jones Beach Airshow is coming their way shortly and during the Q&A, a marvelous question was asked. It would seem the entire airshow is backlit, the sun is behind the aircraft. “How do you make photos in this scenario? “While this can from time to time create some great photos, hours and hours of backlit subjects would get old, fast. What I do in this scenario is leave show center and head to the end of the performance box (the end with the best background) and photograph the aircraft as they make their return turn to show center. During that turn they will have sun on them and that when, like you see in the Corsair above, you can get out of the shadows. This is the easiest solution I know for the backlit airshow.

Tell the Story with Shape, not Detail

Staggerwing 17D captured by Z 8 / Z24-70f2.8

It was a great evening at the ranch in ID! The skies were pretty solid overcast which scuttled any A2A opportunity which lead to the bourbon getting brought out early. Then the sun made a brief appearance and disappeared just as quickly. It was like it was giving us a warning shot of grand things to come so I grabbed my camera and headed out to the grass ramp to see who was parked I could make a shot with. I saw that the horizon had a slit of clearing so knew the sun would appear, be super bright and the range of light leaving only one real shot, silhouette. That’s when I headed to the Staggerwing. Now the F17D is not a common version and this one had an amazing painting scheme. But you weren’t going to see any of that detail with the light that was coming. But the shape of the fuselage and the wings, anyone in aviation would know it was a Staggering. That permits me to be more “artsy fartsy” which is fun and grabs perhaps non-aviation viewer imagination. It’s one of the advantages of to tell the story with shape, not detail.

A Little Thing Makes a Big Difference

F-35 & F-86F captured by D5 / 180-400VR

Background is everything in a photograph. When you’re at an airshow you have a great variety of aircraft, some that rarely if ever fly with each other like the Korean War F-86F Sabre and the modern F-35. It could be a splendid shot except for one big thing, that background. These could be models hanging from the ceiling since without a dynamic background, they are just hanging there in the frame. That’s why I’m so tight on them. I normally don’t like being this tight but by being this tight, I minimize the bla blue sky and zero in more on the pilots. You learn to work with what you’ve got keeping in mind a little thing makes a big difference.

Fun in the Sun is Around the Corner!

Thunderbirds captured by D5 / 180-400VR

Sun&Fun is a great gathering of planes, pilots, photographers and aviation fans! This annual event brings a boat load (should say plane load but just doesn’t have the same punch) of great photographic opportunities especially if you go prepared. One of the brilliant acts is the AF Thunderbirds. Knowing their routine which does change each year permits your to be prepared for those special moments. You can prepare by going one day, winging it (there’s a plane joke for ya) and then doing better on day two with that knowledge, or… Most aviation acts have their routine on YouTube which makes it easy to watch and learn their routine so you came make the most of every day of shooting. Knowing when they are doing any of their formations like you see here, prior to them on display helps knowing to shoot vertical or horizontal, at 200mm or 400mm. It’s really a simple thing you can do that pays huge dividends on the flight line. The weekend and airshows fun in the sun and around the corner!

Thunderbirds captured by D5 / 180-400VR

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