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.

In Honor of VE Day 73 Years Later

Certainly an anniversary that needs to be honored every year. VE and VJ Day were two very significant days in world history. VE Day stands for Victory Europe when the war in Germany came to an end on May 5th 1945. WWII affected millions of lives and when the conflict ended life didn’t just resume as normal. It took time. Time to remember.

Three years ago I had the great fortune to be at the 70th Anniversary of VE Day as part of the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover in Washington DC. Over thirty thousand people attended the ceremony and over 800 veterans were present at the Reflection Pond. Every head was looking up as the 52 aircraft flew overhead in honor of the different services that participated throughout the war.

You can see what happened through the eyes of the Texas Flying Legends Museum and their fleet of aircraft as they flew over the memorial here.

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.

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.

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