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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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on Dec 26, 2019 in Aviation

Your History, Someone Else’s Memories

January 26, 2013, I along with my good friend Ed were blessed with a rare moment in history! We were present when this gorgeous Morane-Saulnier MS.230 was going to have its first flight after a seven-year restoration. It was a gorgeous plane and we were very fortunate to have an open grass field to operate and photography it from. The Morane-Saulnier MS.230 was the main primary trainer for the French Armée de l’Air throughout the 1930s so when WWII broke out, most of the French pilots had been trained in this unique aircraft. The MS.230 is a parasol wing monoplane which unlike other trainers of the time, were mostly biplanes. Notice how the fuselage “hangs” from the wing which is where parasol comes from. Its metal tubular framing with fabric covering throughout, except the forward area of the fuselage, which was metal. The instructor and pupil occupied two tandem cockpits. It had a wide fixed landing gear that made it very stable in takeoff and landing but difficult flight...

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on Dec 6, 2019 in Aviation

Dec 7th, “a date which will live in infamy”

They were high school juniors and seniors when they heard on the radio the attack on Pearl Harbor. Without hesitation, they enlisted to serve their country. The “Greatest Generation” came together making the USA a life priority with many making the ultimate sacrifice. We owe all who served and paid the ultimate price for our freedoms, especially that day in Dec 1941. They shall never be forgotten! Years back we wanted to understand that Sunday morning so we traveled to Pearl Harbor to fly the routes of that morning. This is the story of that flight. We’d been planning it for months, paperwork filed with official channels asking for permission, route and mission decided on, all was good to go! The time had come to put the flight in the air. It was a beautiful clear morning 15 March as we meet the team at the gate of the airport. The day before we’d all meet in Rob’s hangar and went over the flight we’d been planning for months....

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