Time For the Three Forks Flyin!

It’s that time of the year again for the annual Three Forks Flyin sponsored by the Montana Antique Aircraft Association. This will be the 41st Flyin and each sees a variety of aircraft from all over the west. Some pilots travel as California and Washington to be a part of the Flyin and this year Addison Pemberton and his Goose will be attending the Flyin. It’s one sweet plane! I’ve been going to the flyin for the past couple of years and it’s always been a blast. It’s this Friday and Saturday so if you’re in the area stop by for some fun.

If you need more inspiration, head over to the MAAA’s website and click on the gallery where you can see a bunch of photos of mine from last years event.

Images Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Don’t Forget the People

This one is pretty self explanatory, take photos of the people. The whole point of events like EAA Airventure is to bring people together who enjoy Aviation. They celebrate the culture, the heritage, the adrenaline, the camaraderie and of course the stories. Without these people the Fly-in wouldn’t happen. How do you capture this?

There is no one method. You walk and talk and watch the people. Watch the pilots, the crews, the reenactors and of course the audience. Let their enthusiasm be the story but remember to be respectful and polite. It’s a public event so you can photograph everyone that comes in but be nice about it, especially those that keep the planes going. Talk to those guys and share YOUR enthusiasm with them. As for gear, I’ve taken people shots with everything from an 18-35 f3.5-4.5 to the 200-400 VR. It all depends on what kind of story you are trying to tell.

Something is Always in the Air

 

Continuing on with Airventure advice, many of you will probably recognize the Martin JRM Mars water dumper that was at Oshkosh two years ago. It’s the largest flying boat still flying today and was one of the main attractions in 2016. It’s easy to see why. Airventure always has aircraft in the skies. Whether it’s planes flying in or out or the actual airshow routine, there is always something going on. This is why it’s really important to keep an eye on the show guide which usually there is a hard copy available for those in attendance, the app or their website.

When it comes to flying aircraft I instantly go to the long lens which in my case is the 200-400 VR, along with the Nikon D5, which combined with the ability to go to High Speed Crop in the camera, provides a good focal range. For those that aren’t familiar with High Speed Crop, it’s a simple function in Nikon cameras that allows you to go from the image area of FX to DX which changes the aspect ratio but increases magnification. Sometimes that is a good thing.

With flying aircraft the other areas that you need to focus on is having a slower shutter speed if the aircraft has props, such as under 250th a second and proper hand holding technique. Elbows in, twist at the trunk and hands resting under the lens barrel. All of these elements will help you get cleaner, sharper images.

Oshkosh Has Started!

There is no event on the planet that is quite like EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, WI. Hosted every year by EAA at Wittman Regional Airport, Airventure is the world’s largest Fly-in with over 10,000 aircraft usually in participation throughout the week. Hundreds of thousands of people attend every year and for the true aviation enthusiast there is nothing better. For a photographer, it’s paradise because there is more photograph then you have time for. With so much available how do you not get overloaded?

Unfortunately this year I will not be able to attend Osh, but having gone multiple times over the years I have plenty to talk about and advice to give. The big thing to start with is to not get overwhelmed. There is a lot to see at Oshkosh and it’s really easy to feel like you have to see and photograph everything. The simple truth is you can’t. There is just too much. Your best bet is to research the different areas and setup a basic schedule for where you want to be and when. For instance, down at warbird alley, getting there early in the morning is a great way to get static shots of just the planes and not the crowds. Or like the image above, staying late to avoid people in your photos. Remember to go tight and to go wide. Something like the Nikon D5 with the 18-35 f/3.5-4.5 or 70-200VRII to give multiple options with the static planes. Oshkosh is great because you can get close and get those detail shots so take advantage of that.

Sixteen Years of Service

One of the most iconic bombers of WWII, the B-29 Superfortress helped bring an end to the war by dropping thousands of pounds of bombs on the Pacific held Japanese bases. The most famous missions were the dropping of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The B-29 went on to serve as a platform for the advancement of high altitude aircraft as well as sixteen years of service with the USAF. It was retired on June 21st 1960. Today, two airworthy examples can be seen in the sky and both are worth seeing.

When not to Bring the Camera Out

Well when it rains it pours and lately it sure has been pouring. This past weekend was the AOPA’s first flyin for the season in Missoula, MT and it was a great turn out. Despite the rain on Saturday there was a good crowd and a lot of great planes showed up. However, it was photographically a challenge and it brings up the question that we must always ask ourselves, “when do we pull the camera out?”

When you start thinking about the time and money investment you put into some of your trips, even a small one like this, you go expecting to come back with some results. The reality is you don’t always come back with a worthy photograph. Even if you work a scene like this through all the rain, what’s the story going to be? Where’s the drama? What makes this appealing to an audience? Is it worth the hardrive space? These are really important questions to think about before going click and frankly in this case it was better to use the iPhone and talk with the pilots then go searching for that photo. It was still a good weekend.

Got to Have That Big Project

There is no one way to make it in photography. If you’ve ever heard the saying there’s more then one way to skin a cat, well that’s how photography kind of is. There are many avenues that can bring you money and the more of it you have the more time you’ll be able to spend behind the camera. In theory of course. But what about big projects? How important is it to have a photo project that lasts longer then a week, a month, a year?

I’ve been fortunate to have had a couple of these over the short time I’ve been a photographer and I can say that while the results have always varied, the stories that come from these big projects are the ones I tell the most often. From working with African Artisans, to traveling the country with a flying museum, those big projects have made a bigger impact on my life then many of the day shoots I’ve been on.

From a business stand point do they pay off and are they worth investing in? When you have a big project you have to spend a lot more time prepping for it. That’s the big difference I’ve noticed. The benefit is all that prep work can help your photography in all the other little projects you have going on. Whether it’s learning more on the computer, getting better with flash, learning new camera techniques, or working more with people. Whatever it is, odds are it will be beneficial later on.

So yes I am a believer in big projects but like all aspects of life you need a balance between the big and the small. The satisfaction of completing even the simplest of tasks helps make everyday life better. In photography you really really need that feeling of completion to help stay on track because it’s easy to loose sight of why you’re doing all of this.

How Valuable is it To Finish an Old Image?

It’s quite common to get so wrapped up in current shoots that you only finish the images needed for whatever purposes you have and then leave the rest for another time. I’m guilty of this myself. In past years I would finish images for blog posts and articles and then leave the rest for later. Problem is the more you shoot the more images tend to stack up so you never really find that time to finish the images. The other downside is it is easy to forget not only what you photographed but the conditions in which you took the image to begin with. This makes it harder to finish the images at a later point. So what do you do?

The images have to get finished one way or another but if the argument is if there is value to finishing them later after you’re out of the moment of capture, then is it worth the time, time being money after all or hardrive space? Well personally I hate leaving images unfinished. Even if they are old there was value in them to start with or you wouldn’t have taken the image to begin with. Leaving them to be forgotten is not only a waste but isn’t a good business practice. Part of the answer comes back to proper time management. Taking less images but still good quality images means less computer work which is a better business practice. There’s another potential answer to the question.

So yes there can be value in old images but it comes from recognizing that value and applying it to your business.

Enter the Bearcat

One big engine in a small plane. The F8F Bearcat never saw combat in WWII but one could imagine what would’ve happened had this 455mph fighter/interceptor entered service. Powered by the Pratt & Whitney R-2800, the Bearcat was designed to be operated off of escort carriers, which were smaller and lighter, with a high rate of climb, maneuverability and speed. The first operational squadron was ready May 21st 1945 but with the war over in Europe, production orders were vastly reduced and eventually only 1265 were built. The Bearcat first saw combat in the French/Indochina war and then again in Vietnam.

The Bearcat’s true fame came from the Navy’s choice for the famed Blue Angels squadron, then being raced for decades at the Reno Championship Air Races and for setting the 3km World Speed Record as well a the time to climb record. The speed record was of course broken later on.

Still this marvelous aircraft graces the skies of North America at various airshows throughout the season. It’s short wings, short fuselage and high profile make it hard to miss among the other aircraft on the ramp. In the skies, the sound of that R-2800 is unmistakable as it thunders overhead.

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