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.
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
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.
One of my favorite times to be in the Rockies is almost here, Spring. While I love Fall and Winter, Spring is hard to beat photographically speaking. The storm clouds and bright foreground colors are just amazing. You can make so much happen with just a single afternoon drive. Like this one, where the storm clouds dropped down lots of moisture but the hills were just alive. Part of the joy comes from seeing the dull browns and grays turn into the luxurious greens, yellows, and reds. Only a couple more weeks.
Image Captured with Nikon D4, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
I’ve really been enjoying fishing photography lately because it allows me to explore the relationship between subjects more thoroughly. You have this contrast between wanting to take a good photo of the person so that they have that memory and then you have the “really cool” fish photo of just that fish. If you were to ask the fisherman, they would say just photograph the fish, it’s more important. Both are key elements of the story, but the story isn’t complete without the other. Combine this with the urgency to take the photo fast for safety purposes and it makes for some interesting photography.
Images Captured with Nikon D750, 24-70 AF-S, SB-5000 on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
Seven years ago I had the privilege of meeting the last four remaining Doolittle Raiders and the aircraft that they flew on their dangerous mission over Japan on April 18th, 1942. Last week the last remaining Doolittle Raider, Lt. Colonel Dick Cole, passed away at 103 years in age. After many years, all the raiders are together again.
Today marks the 77th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid in which 16 planes took off from the carrier USS Hornet and bombed Japan. While it was not a mission out of revenge, it was designed to send a message that Japan was not untouchable. The planes would fly on to various countries in Asia where all but one crashed. The men had to find their own way home. While the history of the mission is important, it is the bravery, ingenuity, and determination of all involved that really matters.
Spring in Montana is never the same from one year to another and this spring is shaping up to be another one for the books. After the record cold temps in February and March, the ice packs and snowstorms haven’t melted away yet. As a result of this many rivers still, have shelf ice on them. Fishing them can be dangerous as a wrong step can lead to you plummeting down into the unknown but photographically they can be quite rewarding. It comes down to the contrast of having that cold element with a sport that is typically thought of as being warm. Not mention that having a three-foot-tall ice chunk by you is just impressive.
Image Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film
Columbian Ground Squirrels aren’t the only early visitors that show up to mark the start of Spring. While the American Robin normally doesn’t go away in the winter, they just become harder to see roosting in the trees, come the beginning of Spring they tend to be everywhere. The Robin has become the quintessential harbinger of Spring in most places. They can brood up to three clutches throughout the year and considered a favorite among local birds of prey.
If there are one species in the Rockies that let you know when Spring has come it’s the Columbian Ground Squirrel. While a native species to Canada and the northwest United States, they are considered vermin in most agriculture and ranching areas due to their ability to multiply quickly and the number of burrows they create. Still, for those that don’t worry about those things they are like most members of the ground squirrel family fun to observe.
It’s soooo close but we just aren’t quite into that spring landscape phase yet. I really look forward to this time of year because we are starting to get warm days which result in dramatic skies while still having snow on the mountain tops. It can lead to some beautiful afternoon landscape photo sessions. Most commonly these occur in April and even May depending on the snowpack and temps. Right now is a good time to be scouting those locales so you know where to go come this spring. This was up in the Crazy Mountains several years ago and I can’t wait to go back this year.