Today marks the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion. One of the biggest allied operations or WWII which lead to the downfall of Germany’s Occupation of Europe. Thousands of men, aircraft, machines, supplies, and more went into making the operation a success. Today you can watch as a special memorial is taking place over the skies of France as over a dozen C-47’s are taking part in a flight over Normandy.
Whenever I go out looking for critters I always have my TC-17eII in my pocket or on the camera itself. This is especially true with birds. Often times when working with such small subjects that tend to be far away, so you tend to need that extra reach. The downside with a teleconverter is that you add a joint in between the camera and the lens. This makes it less stable and more prone to vibration from your hand leading up to potentially fuzzy images. Plus if the subject moves then it becomes really hard to get a tack sharp images. The TC-20eII is a 2x magnifier and is a really great tool for working with birds but for that stability reason I rarely use mine. Well this is the one case where I wish I had it.
This Pied Billed Grebe was a bloody rock. There was one spot where he liked to sit and outside from a little feeding he was always there. If there was a time where having a little bit more glass would’ve been nice it would’ve been here. While I don’t always like the portrait shot all the time, I go for them when the opportunity arises.
Image Captured with Nikon D5, 600f/4, TC-17eII on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
It may be a common duck on the west side of the Rocky Mountains, but for me it’s one that I’ve never been able to photograph. That changed this past weekend when I spent the afternoon down at one of the local ponds. I love working the ponds because there will always be those predictable birds to work with, in my case the Yellow Headed Blackbirds, and then there is the chance that you will be able to see something special.
Now I was shooting with the D5, 600f/4 with a TC-17E II and at times in High Speed Crop. This was as close as the male Teal came to me. He just wanted to feed, wasn’t interested in playing around. The female was more cooperative and came over for a little bit.
When it comes to working in a body of water, you really have to watch those foregrounds and backgrounds for pesky surface debris that when magnified are just really blurry dots. He liked this foliage for feeding purposes and I can’t say I minded all that much either.
I’m very pleased to be able to share this finally. Last August I had the privilege of meeting Jim Booth and his wonderful family. Over the next several months we did a series of photo shoots, including my first Montana air to air shoot with his PA-12 Faust last October. The story just came out in EAA Sport Aviation. If you’re already a member be on the lookout for it. If you’re not, well you might wanna consider it. EAA has three great publications for you photographers and aviation buffs.
Today is a very important day. Today we stop and give thanks to all those that served this country and fought for the freedom that we enjoy every day. It is not just a holiday that gets us out of work. It’s a day that truly deserves our gratitude even if it is just for a moment. Stop and say thanks.
I don’t know how many years I have been writing a blog post for this day, which probably means I’ve written it a few times. I know that each year it gets harder to write about the same anniversary because the facts haven’t changed. The same events have occurred, the same people made those events occur and for me personally is the obligation to tell that story. The real difference each year is the number of people who were there to tell us what happened gets fewer and fewer. That is the natural way of life and it is why we honor days like today. Today is May 8th and is the 74th anniversary of VE Day, Victory Europe. This is the day when Germany surrendered during WWII. Some people may not know this and that’s why I write this post.
I also write this post for these guys. These vets who were there to do those things that need remembering and who every year disappear on us. Veterans like Jerry Yellin, Edward Saylor, Dick Cole, and David Thatcher. I know I’m forgetting others but I said these names because I’ve been able to meet these folks and hear their stories. It’s sad to think that they’re all gone.
As a photographer, our job is always to document the world around us. We all see things in a different light but no matter how we look at things, we are all still recording a chunk of time. That’s how we pass on our stories and memories to others by sharing those photos. Today we are able to honor these fine folks and say thanks for what they did in part because their world was documented at the time. Stop today and say thanks, life would be very different without people like this and without the service they provided all those years ago.
I wasn’t kidding when I said the P-47’s were coming in a later post. It’s such an amazing fighter plane but sadly there aren’t enough out there anymore. I was very fortunate a few years back to see five of them at the Planes of Fame Airshow. I didn’t think they could do one better than the year with six P-38 Lightnings. Well, the Jug was a hit that weekend and the photos are still ones that I cherish. But not to keep you in suspense I’ll tell you how I got them.
There are two key spots at PoF that are great for flight shots. In the morning, the far west end of the runway has good light and background for the “going away shots,” where you see the tail of the aircraft. In the afternoon it’s best to be on the northeast corner by the static ramp fence where the planes come in from the north and do a banana pass by the crowd. Now if you have photo credentials then there is a pit for you but if you don’t just get to the fence early and you should be fine. It’s a cool place, a great show and I can honestly say I wish I was going this year.
Images captured with Nikon D5, 200-400 VR on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
This coming weekend is the Planes of Fame Airshow in Chino, CA. I have gone to this two-day event for many years and since I started going it was always the highlight of that year. They cram a lot of planes and a lot of flying into those two days. Each year has a different theme which generally entails different aircraft showing up. Two of my most favorite years was in honor of the P-38 and P-47 Thunderbolt. You’ll see more of the Thunderbolt in another post.
Now many of you might be wondering how to make the most of those two days and get the best shots that you can. Well for starters get the sunrise photo pass. Some of the best warbird statics that I’ve gotten have been from that early day pass. I know it’s another cost to justify but it is worth it! At PoF they have two static ramps that you can get some amazing down the line shots that you just can’t get at other places. You can get detail shots, plane portraits, group shots, you name it. As you can see there is a yellow rope that prevents you from walking around the plane but honestly, I’ve never found that to be a problem in the past. The Northeast static ramp is open early and throughout part of the day. It’s a great place to walk around and work with different planes. My preferred setup is the D5 with the 24-70 or 70-200 but that hasn’t stopped me in the past from using the 200-400 either.
One of my favorite times to be in the Rockies is almost here, Spring. While I love Fall and Winter, Spring is hard to beat photographically speaking. The storm clouds and bright foreground colors are just amazing. You can make so much happen with just a single afternoon drive. Like this one, where the storm clouds dropped down lots of moisture but the hills were just alive. Part of the joy comes from seeing the dull browns and grays turn into the luxurious greens, yellows, and reds. Only a couple more weeks.
Image Captured with Nikon D4, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
I’ve really been enjoying fishing photography lately because it allows me to explore the relationship between subjects more thoroughly. You have this contrast between wanting to take a good photo of the person so that they have that memory and then you have the “really cool” fish photo of just that fish. If you were to ask the fisherman, they would say just photograph the fish, it’s more important. Both are key elements of the story, but the story isn’t complete without the other. Combine this with the urgency to take the photo fast for safety purposes and it makes for some interesting photography.
Images Captured with Nikon D750, 24-70 AF-S, SB-5000 on Lexar UDMA Digital Film