Aluminum Looks Best Bright and Shiny

There are many ways to make the aluminum on aircraft to pop in a photograph. Pretty much anytime light hits bare metal it makes the metal turn a different color. The shadows and highlights can define every edge of a plane. With bare metal one of the amazing ways to show off the surface is too use a strong highlight in the background. It’s one of the times that a bright white background actually works well.

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

Beauty in the Crop Sprayers

Crop sprayers have their own beauty to them but they often get overlooked. Granted some beautiful light and great clouds never hurt to have but the lines of the planes are just as good either way. Each aircraft has its own story and the lines on each plane help to tell that story. With all photographs the background and foreground are important. With a crop sprayer having the plane parked on the grass makes for a stronger composition then if it was parked on the concrete.

Images captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Fast and Furious

The Hawker Sea Fury was developed too late to see combat in WWII but it saw plenty of action in the decades afterward. Powered by the Bristol Centaurus 18 Cylinder Radial Engine, the Sea Fury was an impressive fighter. With a maximum speed of 460 mph it could easily keep up with the other fighters of its day. Today you can see it flying around the pylons at the Reno Air Races.

It Pays to Get Up Early

This has been one weird weather year! Every time someone thinks they have it figured out something changes. We went from a cold winter to a cold and wet spring, to a blast of heat followed by a wet summer and now in August, the temps at night have been barely above 50. Only in Montana does it seem to change this much. I know everyone says that about where they live but it sure feels that way this year in the Rockies. The one major benefit of this unique summer is how it has affected the atmosphere. Thunderstorms during sunset and ground fog in the mornings. Over the last few years, I have been going to the Three Forks Flyin and this was the first year where there was ground fog at the beginning of August at sunrise. It was pretty darn cool!

Images captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film 

Montana Gems

You wouldn’t think of Montana has having a lot of aircraft activity but the state has always had a healthy history of privately owned aircraft going back to before WWII. Once part of the old US Mail route, Montana has seen its fair share of progress over the years. Still, to this day there is a healthy number of antique aircraft flying around to keep the legacies of the past alive.

This Stinson 10A is a great example of just that legacy. Built as a light utility aircraft by the Stinson Aircraft Company, the 10A was a later variant of the 10, which was a modified 105. The 10A sported a roomier cabin and a Franklin 4AC-199 engine. This particular aircraft is one of 7 flying examples of the 10A in the world and it was part of a 10-year restoration right here in Bozeman. It was pretty cool to see it once again fly over the hillsides.

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

75th D-Day Anniversary

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.

 

It Feels Good.

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.

Why We Remember VE Day

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.

How to Get Those Great Flight Shots

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

How to Get Great Static Shots This Weekend

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.

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