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on Apr 18, 2020 in Aviation

Doolittle Raid 78th Anniversary

Seventy-eight years ago today, 80 airmen in 16 B-25Bs launched from the USS Hornet to attack mainland Japan. Pearl Harbor was fresh in everyone’s memory and even though the damage from the raid was thought to be a token at best, the boost to the US moral was immeasurable. In Dayton, OH in 2017, eleven B-25 flew over the USAF Museum to pay their respect and tribute to the Doolittle Raiders and thank them for their sacrifice for our freedoms on the 75th anniversary of this event. Lt Col Dick Cole, 102 years old then, was the last of the eighty Raiders and was present for the ceremonies (he passed 8 April 2019). We owe all our vets a tribute and I’m glad we are saying thanks to this very special...

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on Mar 23, 2020 in Aviation

No More Excuses!

OK, I’ve heard all the excuses on the planet why photographers don’t practice their handholding and panning, but with current events, they all have now evaporated! While all the near future airshows have been postponed, there is no reason not to be prime and in your best shape for when they resume shortly. You know what I’m talking about, I’ve mentioned it a few thousand times before. I almost thought about doing one of those “stuck at home silly videos” to drive my point home but decided better of it. Instead, you can watch Basic Handholding and Panning videos I already have posted. You might be saying, “That’s all well and good, but what do we practice on?” Yeah, I saw that coming but you won’t like my answer! This is perfect for those of you with kids at home, all you need are two kids and a tennis ball. Now, set your camera to the settings you prefer (I use Shutter Priority 1/60, AutoAreaAF), put your kids about...

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on Mar 12, 2020 in Aviation

Working Them Long Wings

Long-winged aircraft can be a visual challenge to photograph. That’s because to take in wing tip to wing tip, you have a helluva lot of space just doing nothing for you. That empty space can really take away from the photograph, and the visual size of the aircraft. The one tool I fall back on when confronted with a long wing aircraft like this B-17 is background control. The two ways I control the background on such a big subject is exposure and angle. Shooting just before sunrise so the round fuselage reflects the light on the horizon brings shape to “Sentimental Journey” and makes it pop against the dark background. Then by shooting off-angle from the nose a tad, I’m able to “tighten” up the frame and those long wings. I realize this is incredibly simple and now read, seems incredibly obvious but you’d be surprised. When standing in front of a piece of history like this B-17G, the awe effect can live you,...

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on Feb 28, 2020 in Aviation

Just Takes One for Magic!

Rotary aircraft like helicopters are a real photographic challenge! Unlike prop aircraft where the rotation is perpendicular to the film plane, rotary is not so blurring them requires a much, much slower shutter speed. As soon as one starts to lower the shutter speed, the sweat beads start to appear as fear of getting a sharp image sets in. Then when you combine that slower shutter speed with panning, well, you’ve seen those folks laying on the ground at airshows, why do you think they are there? You have to ask yourself this question, you want visual impact or an easy sharp image? I have two photos here of the same Blackhawk. The bottom one was a slam dung easy tack sharp image at 1/250. Because of the flex of the rotors, even with it being broadside to the camera, you can see those rotors are sharp. Compare the visual impact to the other photo where the shutter speed was 1/25. With most prop aircraft, 1/25 would capture a...

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on Feb 7, 2020 in Aviation

Airshow Season – Start Now

The first airshow of the season is already in the books with many, many more coming. With the posting of my new KelbyOne Airshow class, the questions are pouring in about getting a sharp image. The #1 reason folks are reporting to me their issues with getting sharp images is their autofocus not working. They say their AF is either not locking on or losing focus so I’m being asked what’s the best AF mode. Answering that question for my own aviation photography is real easy, Auto Area AF. Be it birds or planes in the sky, AAAF nails the focus but here’s the rub. Any AF mode will only work if, if your PANNING is spot on! All the focus issues I’m reading about in emails are not camera problems but operator issues. Folks panning skills are just not as sharp as they should be. You can figure this out for yourself by looking at your images, sharp or out of focus. Simply ask yourself, is the aircraft...

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on Jan 9, 2020 in Aviation

When the Background Needs to Goes Away

The background is everything! There are times though when you want it all to go away. But when it all goes away, so might your story. So what’s a photographer to do? In aviation and you’re shooting statics you could be done before you start. That’s when being better at weather predictions might just make your day! Ground fog happens quite often at airports where you have all that grass. After it rains, the dew point (you gotta learn that magical number) tells you the night before if ground fog will develop permitting you to make magical backgrounds where there are none. There is a romantic allure to WWII aircraft sitting on the ramp that ground fog conjures up. The fog is a great way to make any background disappear but not the storytelling. In this case, there is a sky zip line tower (two of them) and a larger hangar being hidden by this bank of fog. Rust-0range structures in the background would have completely dispelled any illusion...

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