There is an old adage in wildlife photography that I tend to hold to. Don’t photograph birds in flight against gray skies. When it comes to aircraft, I make some exceptions based on the density of the gray and the “gray” of the aircraft. Modern military are overall gray but some aircraft like the F-22 is anything but one shade of gray. At Osh a number of years ago there was a flight of two F-4 Phantom II that I had not seen since I was a kid and had never photographed. Being a plane I have always really liked, I wanted to the photograph. Though there were really “no shooting” gray skies, I knew that I just needed one photo to be happy.
F-4 Phantom II captured by D5 / 200-400f4
I got on the flight line and watched the flight form up through the D5 / 200-400f4. I figured the only descent photo opp would be when they were a breast of me. I tracked them coming down in the viewfinder and started to shoot when there were nearly abreast. I shot about twelve images as they passed. I watched as they took the pattern to make another pass. The first pass was kinda high, the gray in the background was a wall of yuck. I knew I had no photo. The second pass they came down and in front of them was a F-100, a jet that lays down a bit of smoke. I hoped for better this pass. I did the same thing and this time, the gray wall had a few densities. When I got back to the computer, I found two shots I like. You just never know, just show up!