It Only Takes One

This is the best part about Aviation Photography and the fun that can be had at a simple Flyin. No matter which way you look there is always something to photograph. The best part is it only takes one airplane to make something happen. This 1939 Taylorcraft was taking off early Saturday morning to head over to Butte for the annual flyin breakfast. I got there in the nick of time for the taxi and takeoff. With the D5 and 70-200 VRII, I got close physically, kneeled down and got some clicks. Now getting close isn’t always an option but at small flyins like this one it was and I knew that beforehand. That morning was a gorgeous one at that as the cold front moving in pushed all the ugly smoke out of the way which you can see in the background.

The best part of photographing this plane was later that evening out of sheer happen chance I met the couple that owns the aircraft and we talked for quite a bit. Bev told me about her father and how he flew mustangs in the Pacific doing bombing and straffing runs. He flew 113 missions which is an insane amount! It was great hearing her stories and then being able to share my photos with her of their Taylorcraft. But it all comes back to having that one subject and making some clicks happen with that one plane.

Getting Low While Panning

Panning can be very difficult to master. It comes down to muscle memory and practice. After a while it becomes second nature and then it’s easy. Now one would think that if you get used to a heavier lens, like the 200-400 then a lighter lens like a 24-70 would be easier, but it’s not. It’s just as hard because of that muscle memory. Then there comes the angle. If you think you have it down pat try shooting at a different height, for instance crouching down. Not only does this make for a unique vantage point between the foreground and the background it also will really challenge your skills.

One Flyin, A Heck of a Lot of Photos

The Three Forks Flyin was a blast this year and sadly it’s already over. With roughly 50 GA, Antique and Warbirds in attendance, the flyin was a huge success as people came from all over to enjoy this yearly event. I spent Friday evening and Saturday at the Flyin and in those short hours managed to shoot roughly 6K images. Not bad for less then a day. Addison Pemberton and his Grumman Goose were certainly a big hit at this years event having flown over from Felts Field, Spokane, WA. Addison being himself opened up all the panels on the plane and happily stood under the wing talking about everything that made this plane so unique. There are more great stories to come and more images but I wanted to get something up as I’m still going through images.

 

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

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.

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