Another Year has past since the Doolittle Raid

It kind of amazes me that another year has past and here I am again writing about the Doolittle Raid that happened seventy six years ago. We recognize today in honor of those brave men of the crews of the sixteen B-25 Mitchell Bombers that took off on a bombing run for Tokyo, Japan and there inability due to a lack of fuel to make a safe landing in China. Many made it home some were not so lucky. It was a mission of high risk and high reward if it were successful. It was.

I was fortunate many years ago to attend the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle Reunion when there was twenty B-25’s present and more importantly four of the original Raiders still with us. Today only one, Dick Cole, is left to carry-on the memory of the others. Thankfully with the help of many volunteers and passionate aviation enthusiasts, these planes, these veterans, these stories will always have a home and be recognized.

Photography Friends

 

Photography has a lot of different meanings that come with the camera. It’s never just as simple as taking a pretty picture. There are times when that might be the result but that probably wasn’t where that photo started nor where you wanted it to end. For me it started with wanting to explore Montana and over the course of a decade it has expanded. The one thing I wasn’t expecting was the friends that I would make along the journey.

That’s the part of photography that most don’t tell you about. It’s not just about getting clients and getting the job done. Because of the advancements in technology today, it’s easy to keep all those photos that we take and we share with us at all times. So those clients that you work with can look at your photos as often as you do and that’s how they remember you. Then over time they become friends. Photography is like no other business in this regard. The ability to look at those photographs everyday and be reminded of all those good times.

Spring Sunsets

I have spent many years chasing sunsets partly because I’m too darn lazy to get up for sunrises. I always tell myself to but I never seem to manage it. Over the years I have managed to come up with a few good spots to go for sunset to make up for these lack of early mornings. One of the things that I have learned is that Spring sunsets can be amazing here in Bozeman.

They aren’t what you would expect. The way the weather moves through the valley often only a sliver of light is left on the mountains to the east as the clouds cover everything else in the sky. This narrow opening out west lets in just enough light to make some magic happen. It’s like that single ray of light on a dreary day to make everything better.

Sun N Fun Shooting

Yesterday kicked off Sun N Fun International Fly-in & Expo in Lakeland, Fl which happens to be one of the largest gatherings in the airshow circuit. Each Spring is marked by the event and while each year thousands of spectators attend the event, I personally never have. After all of these years working with aircraft, Sun N Fun is still one of those venues I haven’t been to. But that doesn’t mean I can’t pass on some useful trivia from other events.

One of the biggest things I hear from other photographers is how do you get that shot with so many other people around? Well often times I try and include the people because they are as much apart of the event as the planes are. But to get those shots that aren’t as busy you have to spend a bit of time watching the flow of people around the aircraft. There are times throughout the day that are busier and slower and finding the slower ones will help with those shots. Another useful tool is quite honestly post processing. If you really want that clean static shot then going a step further in your post processing will help you get it.

Now whether it’s Sun N Fun or any other aviation event always remember to be looking for those shots that are different from everyone else’s. Go at different times, try different angles, use a different approach to make something unique happen. Why? Because planes travel a lot and are seen at a lot of places throughout the years. To make your images stand above the rest you got think a little outside of the box.

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, with Passover tomorrow and Easter on Sunday. For some this is a very important holiday with time being spent with friends, family and church. While it is not a federal holiday some states do recognize it and shut down certain functions and facilities accordingly. You might be wondering why I bring this up?

Well as a photographer churches are very interesting subjects to photograph. The lines, the geometry, the stories and of course the light make cathedrals very fascinating. Since some of you will probably be spending some time this weekend in such a place you might consider how you can take a photograph while still being respectful to the church and your fellow congregation.

This photograph of Kings College Chapel I took with the Nikon 1 V3. It’s quiet, small and is non disruptive to everyone else around me. It makes for a perfect camera for these kind of moments. Now everyone has another method for taking these kind of photos called their phones but as I’m sure some of you have experienced phones can be considered rude.

If you don’t have a small personnel camera like the V3 then your best bet is to take your photos during the times before and after services where no one will mind and if someone does say something, just be polite. Kindness goes a long way.

Light in the Darkest of Places

The more I fish the more I use flash. This has become a mainstay with my work now because it adds so much more drama and character to my images. Over the past couple of years I have had the great fortune to be able to go fishing with my friends on the Olympic Peninsula for Steelhead. Not only is it a ton of fun but a totally different experience being in that region. Each time has been different but each time one element remained the same, the need for light. I get a lot of weird looks when I pull the flash out especially when it’s raining but man does it work well. It doesn’t just add light but it also brings out color and as you can see that’s important. Here’s the thing though, like everything else you have to practice.

Lessons can only be learned through practice. With dark skies like these you’re naturally going to have a slower shutter speed. The natural response is to dial in exposure compensation or raise the ISO. However, thanks to E4 in Nikon camera bodies which makes the exposure compensation in the camera body separate from the flash compensation, you don’t have to worry about the affects of the two combined. Whereas if you dial in a higher ISO while using flash you can have shutter speed issues at certain f stops. You see this by looking through the viewfinder and seeing the shutter speed blinking at you. That’s not good.

Experimenting with different lighting scenarios and solving these problems that come up is how you become better. Most importantly it helps you not miss important moments with friends and family. With Easter coming up it might be worthwhile to go out and practice.

Image Captured with the Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, SB-5000, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Spring Birding is Here!

Well as I said earlier this month Spring birding is around the corner. Now that we are in the final week of March most coastal areas should be picking up with activity. The only way to know for sure is to go out and spend some time with the binos and the camera. The migration should keep up all the way through May depending upon where you are in the US. If you’re down in Florida or Texas then you might want to head to those beaches.

 

 

Remember when it comes to shorebirds there are many variables to watch for. Make sure the background and foreground aren’t too busy, watch the angle of the light, try to be level with the subject not looking down at it, watch the birds gesture and most important don’t chase the birds. Shorebirds have a habit of walking away and towards you as the tide brings in food. Work your way up to them but don’t chase them.

As for your equipment go minimal, don’t carry a lot with you. It doesn’t help you or the subject you are trying to work with if you have a lot of gear moving around. Don’t put your hands in the sand because then it will get on your camera gear. Use your forearms as much as possible. Bring a towel with you to brush off dry sand. Never brush off wet sand because that could get lodged into places you don’t want it to.

Lastly be smart. Don’t go to a really busy beach for birds. Try and find somewhere more private so you get less interruptions from people and less potential for problems. Going out early will also help with this and it will give you better light.

These are just a couple of tips that I’ve picked up over the years. The best advice is always to just keep shooting and to learn from your past mistakes and accomplishments.

Image captured with Nikon D5, 600f/4 on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Bones?

If you’ve spent much time hiking around outdoors then you’ve probably seen one or two sets of remains laying around. It’s pretty common and yet every time I see them I think about what was once there and no longer is. But here’s the thing, I never photograph them. If you think about Wildlife photography, in general we tend to skip over those scenes that would seem gruesome, gross or sad. It’s not how we like to picture critters and it’s not how we like to think about our own mortality in the animal kingdom. But it is important to document this stage in a tasteful way because it is part of the life cycle and that’s really what wildlife photographers do. We document the life cycle.

 

Which Image is More Important?

I’ve come across this a lot over the years especially when it comes to aviation. Which image is more important? There are many ways to make an image happen. Different angles, lights, backgrounds, foregrounds, etc. There is no one solution but many questions. This question refers to people and capturing the moment that means the most to them while also making the images that can be used for multiple purposes.

I’m going to use by buddy Dan as an example because this was a happy day for him. I don’t really need to say why. In the editorial world the above image is considered the trophy shot or the “fin and grin” shot. It’s very common and while it means a lot to the person in the image, it doesn’t communicate that much outside of Dan being happy.

A close up puts more emphasis on the fish which is important to capture. The fish is just as important to the story as the fisherman is. With aviation the pilot often gets overlooked and it’s just the plane that gets photographed. The plane has the history, it’s really sleek and cool looking, it goes fast, it gets all the glory. The pilot doesn’t. The reverse of this is with biologists. Often times it’s the subject being studied and not the people that are doing all the work that are getting photographed. The point is to really look at all sides of the equation and see what is being photographed and what’s being forgotten.

Images Captured with Nikon D750, AF-S 24-70, SB-5000, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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