Hebgen Lake is Big!

Technically this is just the inlet, the lake is way down yonder! I’ve been to this inlet a couple of times now and it just amazes me. You walk along the river, through the trees, and eventually, you come out at the inlet where it just opens up to this. The first time I made the trek there was nothing but sunshine, this time there was nothing but clouds. Both times were beautiful but this time was far more dramatic. Taken with the D5 and 24-70 AF-S, closed down to bring out more detail knowing that it would be converted to black and white in post.

Clouds like Fire

 

Low hanging clouds can make for some pretty amazing photo opportunities. In the Gallatin Valley the weather systems always come in from the West and hang in the valley before exiting out over the mountains to the east. Since the Gallatin valley only sits at 4200ft in elevation those storms often are too high overhead to do much of interest, but down towards West Yellowstone at the Hebgen Lake where the elevation is 6500ft, the storms that move through can be pretty impressive.

I looked behind me on Saturday to this massive cloud bank move through the Pines. It was a thermal hole that had opened up enough for a brief moment in the rainstorm to allow a little light to make those clouds sing. When I saw it, it was like a storm of flames dancing on the other side of the trees. With the D5 and 24-70 AF-S, I took a couple of clicks and finished in Silver Efex Pro.

 

The Bearcat makes it into Combat!

This was one powerful plane! The F8F Bearcat was Grumman’s answer to the climb to rate ratio that at the time was deficient. After the Battle of Midway, Grumman pilots in the field were demanding aircraft with better performance. At the time, Grumman was introducing the F6F Hellcat, which was a large step up from the F4F Wildcat but still didn’t meet the demands the pilots were looking for. This was 1942, with the release of the Hellcat in 1943. Grumman used the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine for the Hellcat, which was the most powerful American made engine at that time with 2,000 horsepower. Thus it also was used for the Bearcat.

Modifications to the fuselage length, wingspan, vertical stabilizer, amount of fuselage behind the pilot’s head, canopy, landing gear, prop, and many other factors helped bring the weight down to 7,650lbs when empty. The result of all these modifications was a max speed of over 400mph and a rate of climb of 4,465 ft/min. However; due to the length of time to design, test, and produce the Bearcat, it never saw combat in WWII. The Bearcat had operational status with Fighter Squadron (VF) 19 on this day seventy-five years ago but the Cat never was able to make its mark. That being said, the Bearcat was believed to be one of Grumman’s best planes as it has been used for years as a racing plane, breaking speed records for piston-powered aircraft and even was the plane of choice for the Blue Angels at one point.

Spring Bunnies

Spring is the time of the year for new life. Whether it’s birds, mammals, or little people, there are creatures being born into this amazing world. As we start to see the changing in the seasons with the wildflowers beginning to bloom and the trees beginning to leaf out, the new life is also starting to emerge. Each species works on its own time table which is variable upon the region. Right now we are starting to see little rabbits and ground squirrels all over the place. If you haven’t spent much time working with the little guys you’re not alone. The best way to practice is to find a local park that is next to some open area. Typically there will be something living there and being that it is a park, the critters will be a little more habituated. Now depending on which state you live in and that states current Covid-19 response you might be a more limited but you can be doing research or even practicing with a stuffed animal if all else fails. You’d be amazed at how many basics can be learned with a stuffed on the ground.

 

75th Anniversary of VE Day

Today is a very important day and I hope that it gets recognized this year with everything else that is going on. Today marks the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, Victory Europe when Germany surrounded in 1945 bringing to an end the ground war of WWII. WWII wasn’t officially over until Japan surrendered in August of 1945 but for many a large part of the destruction was over. Many brave soldiers lost their lives in this bloody conflict and many more civilians lost their lives needlessly.

Five years ago, a massive tribute was held over the national mall when 52 WWII planes flew over the State Capitol in honor of this tremendous day. Over seven hundred veterans and thirty thousand people showed up to view this once in a lifetime event.

 

When you’re a photographer you get to be a part of many great moments that most people don’t even know about. I’ve been fortunate in my young career as a photographer to have been a part of some of these moments. Of all the ones I have been a part of, none have been more impactful on me then this one. Seeing a B-29 fly is pretty amazing in todays world but seeing one fly over the National Mall is epic.

Content Aware Fill and Clone Stamp are your Friends

Every aviation enthusiast has probably seen the great photos of the lineups of airplanes parked along the ramp at an airport. There are a couple of things needed in order to make this a truly great photo. All the planes have to be lined up so the spacing is even, the foreground has to be clean, the background has to be clean, the first plane has to be interesting and most of all you need to have lots of planes in the lineup! Again this was one of the great things about the Planes of Fame Airshow and while it is a bummer that it was canceled, you can always prepare for next year.

The amazing ground crew and the event itself solves a number of the above problems. The other photo elements have to be solved by yourself. Background, foreground, and an interesting subject up front are easy enough to solve. However, what you see above is typical, a long rope keeping people away from the planes. This is where Photoshop comes in handy. Content-Aware Fill and Clone Stamp tool are your friends because you can easily deal with this clutter. By doing so you create a more visually pleasing and less busy photo. It may take some time but it’s worth it.

Cleaning up Planes of Fame Images

In past years this would be the week where I would be cleaning up and finishing the photographs that I took at the Planes of Fame Airshow. Unfortunately due to recent events, the Airshow was canceled this past weekend. While this was a major bummer for the aviation and especially warbird enthusiast, like previous events and other photographers, there are plenty of images in the files that can still be worked on.

One of the biggest issues when working with airplanes is the amount of dust that gets kicked up and inevitably lands on the camera sensor. This leads to those lovely little black dust spots on the photography which have to be removed. As you can see form a previous Planes of Fame Airshow, I’ve had to deal with that in the past. Adobe Camera Raw makes it really easy to deal with that with the spot remover tool. You can highlight a spot, change the size of the spot, the location where it pulls from, and even apply those settings onto other photographs that have the same issue. It’s a handy quick way to fix that troublesome issue.

Spring in the Rockies

I do love Spring in the Rockies! The weather starts to get a little warmer but there’s still a little nip in the air. The vegetation starts turning green as new life begins and the crystal clear air can be seen on the gorgeous rivers. The high alpine lakes are a great place to be as the runoff happens further below so the lakes stay clear. Photographically it’s a no brainer but the clarity you feel at that moment is hard to beat.

error: Content is protected !!