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on Mar 13, 2018 in Aviation

Aviations Dirty Little Secret to Cool Photos

Yep, there is a dirty little secret to those killer aviation photos you’re not going to learn in the hangar or hear on the flight line. Lean in close to your monitor as I whisper the secret because I don’t want to be the one blamed for letting out the secret. You ready, here is comes … LIGHT!!! Yep, that’s the dirty little secret you’re not supposed to know about, at least that seems to be the case with the photos that I’m often asked to critique. What’s missing is … light! And we’re not talking about any old light, oh no!!! We’re talking sexy, provocative, tasty, mysterious, sculpting light! It’s light we further tweak with exposure and white balance in the camera and in post, we lower the blue saturation in ACR to remove that color cast from the top flight surfaces. And most of all, there is BLACK! Now, this light does not only happen at sunrise or sunset, rather some of the best happen at midday...

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on Mar 5, 2018 in Aviation

Great Visual Stories are Ageless!

It was an incredible honor to shoot and produce Warbirds and the Men Who Flew Them four years ago! Working with the amazing pilots and planes of the Texas Flying Legends Museum, the crew from KelbyOne but especially, the WWII Vets will always be a highlight of my career! But what chokes me up is years later receiving a note like this that just reinforces the great visual stories are ageless! I have followed you for many years for your insightful, helpful lessons on photography. Today, I find it necessary to write and tell you how impressed I (USN retired, Vietnam vet) and my wife (USAF service) were by the subject video. More than the photography, you presented the sacrifices and heroism of the Greatest Generation that our fathers were a part of with honor and respect. You accomplished this with dignity and understanding of their sacrifices. Your video brought tears to our eyes as we listened to the stories. You are one heck of a photographer, but that...

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on Feb 9, 2018 in Aviation

Time for Airshow Review

Airshows have begun and the question are pouring in what tips I might have. I regret we won’t be there this year but want to pass along a couple of speed tips. So I thought I’d cap the most common ways I like to put the action in my stills. Now of course, buying a copy of Takeoff would be a great start! Realizing most learn best from watching rather than reading, you can head to my Kelby Class on Aviation Photography for more in depth explanations. But just because you see planes here, these techniques apply to ALL moving subjects! Start with understanding that shooting unrestricted is essential! The less you carry, the more mobile you are, the more mobile and limber you are, the sharper the photos and better composed they are (here is a complete listing of the gear that’s with me, most in the vehicle just in case). With that in mind, here are some tips that you can apply to any action photography and...

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on Feb 7, 2018 in Aviation

There is More Than One Angle

I am often asked if there is just one angle to shoot statics? The answer is a resounding, no! There are a number of variables with the biggest ones being the aircraft, the background, and lens you want to you. I personally start with the background, then the lens and finally the aircraft. It’s with the first two that I select where I’m going to shoot and the angle I’ll have for the last one. Now you can go about this many ways and might have only one option no matter what you’d like. But this is how I do it. There are three lenses I turn to, the 14-24AFS, 24-70VR and the 70-200f4. The difference in each of these lenses is how they render the symmetry of the aircraft and how they control the background. If I have lots of background to play with, all three lenses are in play. If there is minimal background, the 24-70VR and the 70-200f4. If there is no real background, the 70-200f4...

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on Dec 22, 2017 in Aviation

Will They Ever Leave?

It must be winter with its long nights as finishing questions are floating in. The most common question this week has to do with backgrounds, in particular, aviation photos with people in them. The email usually goes something like, “How do you have static photographs with nobody in the background?” The first part of my answer is, I wait just a few minutes because folks never stay in one place for long. You don’t have to say a thing, no dirty looks or throw anything, just wait. Folks attention span just isn’t very long so just wait. Now there are times when something might be happening so you don’t have a minute, in that case, we have this amazing tool, Photoshop! Case in point, while in the UK this past August during our workshop, we had the amazing opportunity offered us to photograph the entire HAC squadron outside. They don’t get pulled out often so the public was all over them. In this case though the clock was not...

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on Nov 21, 2017 in Aviation

Giving the Ghosts a Good Shakin

The excitement in the cockpit overflowed as the first taxi run of our C-47 came to an end yesterday. It’s been a long time since the mighty engines moved this old lady down a runway but she did it on the first attempt easily taking a big stride towards her flight to Normandy in 2019 for the 75th anniversary. I’ve always been project oriented, working with a subject/story for years and this project is no different. Brent & I have made a number of trips this year to the project and we’re by no means done with a dozen already scheduled for 2018. Each and every trip we learn something new, try something new while improving on what we did last time. The D850 is a big part of the project now, depending on its small size but giant video quality. I’ve also gone back to a favorite old lens from the locker. Working in physically tight spaces is a challenge. I need a very wide, very sharp and...

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